Please note: This blog post is a course related assessment for the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program at Royal Roads University.
Taking the LRNT 525 – Leading Change in Digital Learning course could not have come at a more appropriate time in my professional career. In early March, I started in a new role at eCampusOntario where I will be a project manager to lead a significant digital change within the province of Ontario. The project is title Open at Scale – Business Open Educational Resources (OER) and will focus on nine highly enrolled post-secondary business courses within Ontario adopting OER to remove the cost of students having to pay for expensive textbooks.
The Leading Change in Digital Learning course has challenged my thoughts on what it takes to be a leader and expanded my knowledge of critical areas that will help me in my new position. Sheninger (2014) helped me reflect on the importance of two-way communication, branding and professional growth, which encouraged me to be active on social media at the onset of the project and has helped build my network for this project rapidly. Sheninger (2014) went on to discuss re-envisioning the learning environment, which aligns closely with OER as it moves away from the traditional paid textbook method and to a new approach of the faculty member having the ability to adapt the content to their learning environment. As this project will have several stakeholders, including Ontario post-secondary business faculty, students and administration, it will be important to explain the benefits of OER to the stakeholders, as not everyone will be familiar with this approach to resources within the classroom. Large projects have a greater chance of success when stakeholders value the change being implemented within the organization (Weiner, 2009). By explaining the benefits, stakeholders have the ability to understand the value the suggested changes being implemented and can support the initiative moving forward within their respective roles.
Developing nine OER within a year will be a daunting task, and a specific project management approach was needed to ensure success within the project. The Open at Scale – Business OER project will be using an agile project management approach. Agile project management is defined as
“an approach based on delivering requirements iteratively and incrementally throughout the project life cycle. At the core of agile is the requirement to exhibit central values and behaviours of trust, flexibility, empowerment and collaboration” (Association for Project Management, n.d.).
The agile project management approach aligned closely with the leadership approaches outlined in adaptive leadership. Yukl and Mashud (as cited in Khan, 2017, p. 179) state
“flexible and adaptive leadership involves changing behavior in appropriate ways as the situation changes”.
With recent changes in provincial government and the ever-changing landscape of higher education, an adaptive approach to leadership will be needed to ensure the project delivers results and adjusts accordingly when appropriate.
Without the Leading Change in Digital Learning course, I would not have the depth of knowledge needed to understand the complexity that the Open at Scale – Business OER brings to the post-secondary institutions. I now feel prepared for the project and change management requirements of the project and look forward to gathering data throughout the one-year project to demonstrate the overall project success.
Association for Project Management. (n.d.). Agile project management. Retrieved March 28, 2019, from https://www.apm.org.uk/resources/find-a-resource/agile-project-management/
Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or Transactional Leadership in Current Higher Education: A Brief Comparison. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3).
Sheninger, E. (2014). Pillars of digital leadership. International Centre for Leadership in Education.
Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67).