Argyris (1991), whose work has influenced thinking about the relationship of people and organizations, organizational learning, and action research, may help us understand why longtime highly successful face-to-face trainers and teachers may have a hard time adapting to new technology for teaching and learning. Argyris conveys,
“…success in the marketplace increasingly depends on learning, yet most people don’t know how to learn. What’s more, those members of the organization that many assume to be the best at learning are, in fact, not very good at it. I am talking about the well-educated, high-powered, high-commitment professionals who occupy key leadership positions in the modern corporation.” Argyris continues, “Most companies not only have tremendous difficulty addressing this learning dilemma; they aren’t even aware that it exists.”
In short Argyris indicates it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks, especially highly successful ones.
The change process or paradigm shift of adapting to new teaching and learning methods induced by rapid technology changes provides one of the hardest most complex aspects that students, trainers, and teachers must overcome. Kotter(1995) posits a change process goes through a series of phases that take considerable time. Leaders skipping steps in the process create an illusion of speed but rarely create sustainable results. The research will use the model to describe leading the change effort and perhaps avoid transformation failure.
In every successful change effort I have been involved in, top leaders had a sense of urgency to change. This is the first step. An instructional designer can play a pivotal role to support leaders in the change effort by helping others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately. The second step is to create a guiding coalition. Designers can play an active role in an active enthusiastic group with enough power to influence people and encourage the group to work as a team. However, many times the leadership group and trainers do not have a clear vision of what online and blended learning is. Perhaps they may have a negative image of online training. Designers will need to help leaders develop a clear positive vision by coaching people through the process, helping leaders clarify the current state of online training and developing a positive vision of the future of what online and blended training will look like. The vision will help direct the change effort.
Instructional designers can play a key role in bridging the gap between current and improved future states by developing action plans for achieving the vision. Not only will the instructional designer help create vision, they will need to help communicate the vision to generate buy-in from others. Designers using communication and design skills help to make sure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
One of the best things leaders can do is remove obstacles to change. Influential leaders can make things happen by freeing up resources, and change and modify systems that seriously undermine the vision. They can help create an environment that is safe, that encourages risk-taking and new ideas, activities, and actions.
In many instances, many will not believe in the changes that need to be made, until they see proof. Generating short-term wins can help convince those that need proof. Visiting an organization that is already successful in implementing a similar change provides a powerful tool that kaizen teams use to help people envision the future. Improvement teams follow up benchmark visits with visible team successes and follow-through with the successes by recognizing employees who were involved.
Short-term successes are not enough to sustain changes. Organizations and individuals often slip back into old comfortable patterns. It takes perseverance, a tenacity to implement and maintain improvements. Leaders use increased credibility as levers to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision. Teams increase the size of their coalition of leaders who can implement the vision keeping the change momentum going with new projects, themes, and change agents.
Implementation teams succeeding with the first seven steps of Kotter’s change model are well on their way to creating a new blended learning culture. A team of trainers and students will be able to connect new eLearning methods to improved outcomes, behaviors, and organizational success, making the culture stick, developing new leaders and advocates of the lessons lea