Sunday, August 1, 2010

Creating Awareness for Using Technology Effectively to Transform Learning

I wrote previously in a blog post about the ADKAR (“ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community”, Hiatt) model of change management. The first step of the model is “Awareness”. In this stage, stakeholders need to have awareness for the need for change and have the following questions answered. To illustrate the general point, I will give a brief example from our school’s project of “using technology effectively to transform learning”. Our school is in the initial phases of this project, look for project updates regularly!

1. What is the nature of the change and how does the change align with the vision for the organization?

a. How will we transform learning and how will it reflect the outcomes and indicators, skills, attitudes and behaviours contained in our curriculum?

2. Why is the change being made and what are the risks of not changing?

a. Why would we need to transform learning and what happens if we don’t?

3. How will the change impact our organization or our community?

a. How will transforming learning impact our students, teachers, paraprofessionals and community?

4. What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?

a. What are the benefits for me in my classroom?

"Awareness for change is easier to create in the presence of external and observable drivers such as market forces, financial pressure and curricular mandates. Changes that are driven internally (ex. by an individual) or by reasons that are debatable face greater challenges to building awareness". Many factors influence the process of building awareness within individuals during a change. The main obstacles to building awareness are:

1. Acceptance of awareness messages is greatly influenced by a person’s view of the current state. Those strongly invested in the current state may discredit or deny the reasons for change.
a. Teachers who believe they are successful in their classrooms may discredit or deny the need for change.

2. An individual’s cognitive style impacts how they perceive the need for change and how they solve problems. Some may already see the need for change, whereas others may be caught off-guard.

a. Each stakeholder will need to come through the awareness stage for transforming learning in their own way. Many would have preferred to have come to this stage on their own, not everyone will be convinced of the need to use technology effectively to transform learning in the same way and in the same time.

3. The credibility of the sender of awareness messages and the organization’s history with change will weigh heavily on whether or not the awareness message is believed and accepted.

a. Change leaders for transforming learning need to be passionate, knowledgeable, sincere, hard working, compassionate, problem solvers and determined. Most of all, they must gain the trust of the stakeholders. Teachers in particular have been witness to many change initiatives, many of which seem to be the “change de jour”. Stakeholders need to be convinced that redefining learning is a long-term priority and will positively change the way students learn in our classrooms.

4. The presence of misinformation or propaganda in the background conversation can stall efforts to create awareness of the need for change; in some cases, overcoming misinformation presents a major barrier for change.

a. transforming learning may be lost in a sea of other system/school priorities. Misinformation and diluting of the priority must be dealt with openly and directly at the source if possible.

Building awareness is the first and perhaps most important stage of change within an organization.

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