Friday, October 01, 2004

Cultural change in e-learning

It is normal for us to find change challenging. Most of us are prepared to accept incremental, or first order change as a normal part of our lives--we don't always like it, but we accept it.
However, every now and then we are asked to make major or second order change and many of us actively object to this. This objection can constitute anything from ignoring the issues, all the way through to active sabotage and undermining.

Successful e-learning presents us with second order change and although many learning institutions espouse the paradigm shift required, they often fail to convince their teachers to come along for the ride.
Last year I presented a paper at AUSWEB03 that looked at these issues in my organisation. My paper presented a blueprint for facilitating change through effective change management.

We are now a year down the track and many of our academic staff still see teaching and learning as an administrative task. As with all busy staff, they prioritise their commitments and unfortunately still see staff development in teaching and learning as a low priority when compared with their other duties.

So how do we change this perception? Well I believe that the change required is linked to rewards--promotion, $$, prestige, release time, acknowledgement. Our current rewards system provides these for research and consultancy, but not for T&L. A staff member told me last week that being innovative in his teaching took substantial time and that there were no rewards--there was nothing in it for him! Some of our teachers are very innovative and their rewards are intrinsic rather than the extrinsic ones mentioned above.

Producing the required cultural change is surprisingly simple. Introduce additional rewards for T&L; publicise and support them. While this is the first step there is another one that is equally important--change from a culture of blame to one of support for risk-taking.
Without the confidence to take risks, few of your teachers will be prepared to innovate and think outside of the traditional box.

Stay tuned--more next Monday

Scot.

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