This week I participated in the workshop “Influencing Strategy and Change Processes to enable the embedding of Digital literacies“, part of the Changing the Learning Landscape (CLL)¹ series.
The main aim of the event was to:
to focus on how those in development roles (formal or informal) can play a instrumental part in strategy formulation and implementation through working with managers and change agents… through the exploration of the factors that need to be considered, the evidence base, including the ‘right’ people in the process and enabling change to happen.
My expectations were in line with the above, but I also endeavoured to learn with others and network with like-minded, interdisciplinary professionals that came together to talk about influencing change in the Higher Education setting.
My main takeaways are summarised in the following points:
Less Strategy more tactics: Shân Wareing‘s point made me think a bit about the etymology of the words and the difference between long documents and the actual steps to achieve the strategy. What influences change is the small, positive, incremental steps rather than the strategic document.
Running towards; not running away: What does the Higher Education horizon hold for the future? Do we observe the challenges posed by technology and opt for running away or do we seize the opportunity to innovate and become part of the evolution?
Susannah Quinsee engaged us in a series of reflective activities to think about our personal style in managing change by employing colourful papers with messages, stickers, and postcards;
We need to learn to live with paradoxes, for example building cross-institutional partnerships while we are still competitors.
Risk-averse OR Risk-taker ???
We all agree that this is a very common disclaimer (picture) mostly found on …. Twitter!
The Questions are:
- Why does such a disclaimer become so important in a personal social space?
- What if a tweet communicates a scientific breakthrough, an innovative solution to a problem, etc?
- Does this cultivate a learning culture?
- Does it help the Institutional digital transformation?
- Do Institutions support individuals who engage with technologies?
Listen to the students’ voice
What do students really say about their experiences with technology and digital literacy?
I tend to ask my students at the beginning of the Information Literacy sessions how they start their research although I know that their answer is always “Google”. The follow-up question is how many pages of results they tend to explore and again the overwhelming answer points to the first page of results with the top ones becoming the most valuable and reliable, since Google rates them at the top.
This is a well-known attitude among Librarians that validates the notion that students are not necessarily Information or Digital Literate just because they carry many devices.
There are ways to know our students better, for instance the IT Departments can tell us what devices students use to access our services.
Work with students
An important question raised was how we make the student involvement sustainable; Some suggestions include:
- Change the Institutional culture of how we listen to students:
Students want opportunities and dialogue where they can make a positive contribution – not just a place to give negative feedback! #cll1213
— Liz Shrives (@Lizzipops) May 21, 2013
- Partner with the Student Union instead of with individual class Representatives
Partnership between SU and library over VLE/ TEL important for change management at Surrey #cll1213
— Neil Ford (@neiljohnford) May 21, 2013
- The more student-led the projects are, the more sustainable the students’ involvement.
- Act upon students’ feedback and let them know about your actions.
- Utilise time outside exam periods.
Collaborate with Librarians
librarians key in embedding digital literacy skills #cll1213
— Ella Mitchell (@meatyloafy) May 21, 2013
Librarians are already teaching Information Literacy skills and they are good at it!
— Eleni Zazani (@EleniZazani) May 21, 2013
Engage Senior staff
— Susannah Quinsee (@squinsee) May 21, 2013
- Cultivate Communities of Practice rather than communities of resistance.
Change management should happen through creating Communities of Practice (CoPs) where learning by-doing and by-making (Experiential learning) is encouraged. There was a consensus in our working team that provision of training opportunities for staff can influence change and empower staff.
I liked Lawrie’s suggestion about Involving the Human Resources Department in the provision of training on Digital Literacies. I would add that Librarians are, in many cases, competent with new technologies and they can be a valuable source of providing training.
Support for staff: barriers are direction, time fear. Enablers: quick wins, heroes (modelling best prac), staff groups and hr & CPD #cll1213
— Neil Ford (@neiljohnford) May 21, 2013
Keeping the momentum
— sue thompson (@susiestraw) May 21, 2013
I tend to believe that the learning experience becomes rich and exciting when it moves beyond what is anticipated to be learnt and provides space for unanticipated learning outcomes; for surprises.
So here are some of my surprises:
I need to admit that I enjoyed Susannah Quinsee’s activities and the whole process of trying to translate my personal attitudes in stickers and fluorescent papers. I would be hesitant to estimate the average age of the participants but it seems that my argument about adults playing with nursery materials is at stake. Susannah asked us to return our cards to her with our address on it so that she can send them back to us in a 6-month period. Obviously, I found it difficult to let go of my card so I took it with me! 🙂
The outcome of the game itself was quite a surprise!
Taking a risk with a smile, playing along with the unexpected and continuing to iterate, staying positive and singing against the odds.
1. CLL is a unique partnership between the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, JISC, the National Union of Students, the Association for Learning Technology and the Higher Education Academy (HEA). This professional development element of CLL is being led by the HEA in association with the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA).
Phipps, Lawrie. (2013). Changing Learning Landscape: Strategy and Change #CLL1213 (21 May) In Lawrie Phipps: Organisational Development & Transformations Programme. [Blog] Available at http://lawrie.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2013/05/21/cll21may/ [accessed 24 May 2013]
Prensky, M. (2012). From digital natives to digital wisdom: Introduction In From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: hopeful essays for 21st century learning. Corwin.
“Strategy vs Tactic”. Diffen contributors. Diffen LLC, 2013.
http://www.diffen.com/difference/Strategy_vs_Tactic [accessed 25 May 2013]
All the presentations will be available at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/cll
“Changing the learning Landscape” logo is linked from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/2013/03/digitalliteracies.aspx (Many thanks to Lawrie Phipps for giving permission to use it).
“Managing Risk in social Media” was created with the Einstein Image generator www.hetemeel.com, the written message belongs to Lawrie Phipps http://www.jisc.ac.uk/contactus/staff/lawriephipps.
“Change management reflective activities” by Eleni Zazani available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/elenizazani/8824936460/ shared under CC BY-ND
“How much do we know about our students?” photo taken by Eleni Zazani from Lawrie’s presentation.