My approach to transforming learning (Learning Transformation) is a combination of three elements;
- Change Management
- Project Management
First, though, we have to establish why learning transformation is important. The current capital build programmes are placing a lot of ICT and technical resources into schools;
- if those resources are unused, we will have failed,
- if those resources are only used in the ways such resources are currently used, we will have failed,
- if those resources are used by learners, staff and the community in innovative ways, we will have been partially successful,
- will we have been successful only if those resources are used by learners, staff and the community in innovative ways that lead to improved achievement, experiences and opportunities.
I believe that training is fundamental to learning transformation. If we want the resources to be utilised in new and engaging ways then users need to be both trained in using the resources and allowed to explore the potential of those resources. The training, however, needs to go beyond operating the hardware or software and focus on the usage with different learners. After all, why have expensive face-to-face ‘instruction manual’ sessions when we can read the instruction manual?
I feel that the CPD needs to be balanced between ensuring that all software and hardware are effectively covered or explored and that each trainee is able to draw up and follow their own ‘learning path’. We have to remember that not all users will be starting from the same point and that not all we be able to adapt or adopt the new ways of working with technology. Each one, however, is a valued member and should be allowed to proceed at their own pace and toward their own defined goals.
For me, the focus of learning transformation is about the learner using the technology. So the training is not so much focused upon getting the staff to use the technology as much as on getting the staff to allow and facilitate the learners to make use of technology. We are moving away from the learner being a consumer or passive recipient of technology and moving toward the learner becoming the active and creative user of that technology.
There is obviously a lot of change going on around the whole capital build programmes in education; new construction, new resources, new facilities and new ways of working. All these changes need to be managed in order to avoid them getting out of hand or failing to materialise. What I am concerned with in change management, though is slightly different. I am not principally concerned with changing systems, changing services, changing specifications etc.; these aspects are more usually covered by protocols such as ITIL
, FITS or project management procedures.
What I am much more concerned with is change management of people. Staff in a school are the most important and the most expensive resource available. They need to be valued and treasured. If we are going to involve them in a lot of change, they need to feel part of that change and to understand that change. Few people really like change and welcome it, most of us like to be able to control the change in our life or to feel that the change is going to be of benefit to us. If people do not understand the change and its benefits, then they can become resentful and entrenched in existing ways. If that is allowed to happen then we are only creating a barrier to learning transformation.
So my approach to change management involves skills taken from counselling and coaching, which allows people to express their concerns or fears while empowering them to move forward and benefit from the changes around them.
It occurred to me that soon after becoming a consultant, that a lot of my work involved project management and working with project managers. This is why I studied for my project management qualification, so that I could better work in such environments.
Learning transformation, along with building design, ICT specification etc., does not exist in isolation from the rest of the capital build programme. It is a project that is part of a much bigger set of projects or programmes. As such, it needs to be carried out in alignment with these other projects or programmes, some of which may be on-going, some completed and some yet to start. In order for it to be successfully implemented, learning transformation, needs to follow the project management procedures in place across the rest of the programme. It is important, therefore, that those in charge of the learning transformation are also skilled in the ways of project management.