03 May 2010

Reviewing steps towards a change proposal

As the months and events pass by, a lot can happen in the context in which I am attempting to make change proposals at UC. Inevitably, I neglect to keep someone in the picture, or someone is added to the conversation who is fresh and does not comprehend the history and full scope of what I am proposing. Over that time, some elements of what I am proposing fall out of the conversation, causing an inevitable gap in the proposal for some people.This problem can be gleaned from some of the comments and discussions I am finding myself in. "But how does this benefit learning?" is a question I was confronted with recently.. I've taken it for granted that the benefits are a given and don't need making explicit, forgetting that for many open, networked learning and the educational services that might surround that are an entirely new discussion thread.

This is in part why I document things on this blog. A small part of me hopes that some of those people will wade back through it and get a bigger picture, but more realistically, its a resource from which I can grab a few links and respond to emails that contain such questions.

Recently I learned that I had been leaving someone quite critical out of the loop. Luckily that person contacted me about it, leaving enough space for me to respond with a quick overview containing such links. Here's how I think my proposal is panning out linearly:
  1. The beginning was a presentation I made to Health, where I laid out the sort of educational development work I have done elsewhere, and that I intend to do here. many of the points in that general plan require engagement on all fronts of UC policy and management.
  2. Not long after that presentation, I attempted to engage in the review of UC's IP Policy. This policy is quite central to the work I am trying to do with Sport and the wider UC context in which Sport operates. It links to eventual work I hope to be involved in with Research Policy and the Performance Review process, where we might use the notion of "Community Engagement" to reward academic use of the popular internet and social media in teaching and research. Without addressing the IP Policies and the systems of recognition and reward at UC, it will be arguably too difficult to get staff engaged in using the popular internet in their work.
  3. More recently I have prepared a list of things in the UC computing infrastructure that are frustrating staff going early in their attempts to engage popular Internet. There are many things on the UC network that just don't work - and they should. There are other things that are more subtle barriers to engaging. This list resulted in a meeting with ICTS reps, in which we attempted to discuss ways of addressing all concerns. The Chief Information Officer, David Formica suggested I write a "vision" document that aligns with the Strategic Plan, and that it come to him through the Associate Deans of Education. He also advised that he is about to release a "5 Year Road Map" for staff review, and has money to fund projects that are in consultation to that document. To my knowledge, David has not announced that process - but he knows I am wanting to engage in that as well.
  4. At the same time James and I have been attempting to engage the Teaching and Learning Centre on the proposal of 'Open Academia'. We have so far run 2 workshops for TLC, but the response from TLC has been small. It seems they are bound to remaining within the scope of existing Service Level Agreements with Faculties, leaving the development of new approaches to Faculty and their ADEs.
  5. Just last week, I asked key people in Marketing to hear my proposals and indicate where their concerns might be. All supported the idea in principle, and said they would need direction on it from the Deputy Vice Chancellor. They seemed happy to wait for the "Vision" document that would also come to the DVC through my ADE. My post on Marketing's Role in Educational Development comes from that meeting.
  6. So, now I am preparing my mind for that "Vision" document. I want it to properly understand the spirit of the Strategic Plan - in particular Step 40. I want to anticipate any concerns that the relevant people might have regarding its key points, so that it is an effective and persuasive document. The use of Marketing in Educational Development is one of about 3 key areas in the vision. Others being open academic practices and policies, and recognised and rewarded work in popularising and making accessible and reusable our academic and educational work.
  7. All of this action is feeding into my PhD, which is looking at both formal and informal change in an Australian University. Those steps above are almost exactly the same steps I took in an ad-hoc way with Otago Polytechnic, so if they yield results - I might be able to say it is a model for proposing and perhaps implementing a complex and fundamentally challenging change in tertiary education. I am pretty sure however that a more processed approach for this proposal would be more effective at changing the proposal, than actually creating the space for a real change proposal. Live and learn...


Leonard said...

Hi Leigh,

It's great to be able to share in your reflections on your time so far at UC. In one of my previous positions, I was employed as a Quality Manager, and my job was to facilitate swift organisational change. I found two books particularly useful from both philosophical and practical perspectives: "Principle Centered Leadership" by Stephen R. Covey, and "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. Both books significantly helped my later work in influencing and innovating in educational organisations - check them out if you want some interesting perspectives on organisational change and the behaviours of effective change agents (even subversive, rather than authoritative, ones).

Leigh Blackall said...

Thanks Leonard.. off to the library I go. Interesting reviews on Amazon.