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Staff Development for eLearning: Innovation, cultural and organisational change - Part Three

Cultural Change

The cultural change within an organisation has had its effects at three levels:

Environmental level – the external factors: Political factors (Turnbull Report (1999)), Social expectation: Fulkerth (1998) suggests that the student experience now should include not only high quality classroom experience, but also a fully integrated institutional presentation of services and activities into the academic delivery environment.

Organisational level – this can be radical affecting how the whole organisation operates and also invoking personal emotions. Where we are now and where we want to be” Bolman and Deal (1999) report that at least two thirds of planned HE change efforts fail. Why? They believe that, in order to implement any major change, plans, people, processes and culture must move from the old paradigms to the new. Northumbria’s Management review of the situation in 1998/99 which drew upon the messiness of innovation across Northumbria called for vision and clear objectives with participation at all levels. This decision to bring innovation together and identify against where Northumbria hoped to be - the first step of change.

Personal Level – inducing emotions and responses that are not necessarily rational to the change suggested – inducing a messy situation. Somekh et al (1998) identified this as one of the key concepts. Innovation in elearning had been in small pockets across the university with a feeling of personal ownership. The power of individuals to make a positive contribution to bring about the change, of owning the change encourages success.

Northumbria ’s approach of a multidisciplinary team (academic, administrative, technical), where vested interest at all levels could be identified across the organisation not only supported and mentored the change, but encouraged participation. At an organisational level it was recognised that the impact upon all university systems would need to be supported centrally.

Taking on the role of a “learning organisation” learning has been encouraged at all levels, to all staff supporting students. Learning about innovation has become core to its operation. Staff development therefore has been across the board.

Northumbria took Tuckman’s approach as a the university being “whole team” to undertake innovation – this has proven successful. It could be argued that the senior management has viewed the entire organisation as a “whole team” to drive forward change.

Author: Malcolm Bell, Wendy Bell

08 October 2004

VLE: Blackboard



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