We’re living during a time of major change in education, with next-generation digital environments transforming the way educators teach and students learn. Some say this is the Fourth Industrial Revolution—the connecting of the physical, digital, and biological worlds in ways that are more significant than anything we’ve seen before.

Experiencing change of this size and scope can be exciting, invigorating, challenging, and terrifying all at once, yet applying the principles of organizational change management (OCM) can help us plan and execute in a way that will ensure a successful convergence of technology and pedagogy.

Consider these five OCM strategies as you work to drive change at your school, college, or university. (You can get more detail in this new white paper, where thought leaders and change agents from education and industry provide insight in applying these and other organizational change management principles to create next-generation learning environments.)

1. Establish a vision. Your vision is your rallying cry, a key theme around which all stakeholders can coalesce. It is clear, succinct, and easy to remember and articulate: a view of that point on the horizon where you would like your institution to be in the next three to five years.

2. Identify key people, processes, things, and data. From leaders and change champions, to the procedures that enable your institution to function, to the insights that allow informed decision making, understanding and monitoring these critical elements of any change management initiative will help you stay on track.

3. Define intended outcomes. Start any change initiative with the end in mind so that you know where to focus. These outcomes will be your leading indicators of success, and may span areas such as instructional quality, student achievement, student learning productivity and confidence, and teacher competence and confidence.

Many institutions begin with existing strategic plans and related information about programs, enrollment, financials, etc. They complement this with stakeholder interviews or survey results: Where are we today, and where would we like to be? What is currently working well at our institution? What do you like most about what we do? What do you like least? If you could change anything, what would you change? How do you think technology could improve our school? Where are we making, saving, or wasting money? How are we preparing students for the future? The results can be synthesized into clear, specific, measurable outcomes.

4. Measure, measure, measure. If the outcomes you defined are measurable, you should be able to evaluate your progress—and ultimate success—throughout your initiative. Knowing where you are allows you to stay on track and refine your efforts as needed to achieve your intended outcomes.

5. Foster a digital culture. Any change initiative must be supported by the culture in which it’s taking place. In the case of digital transformation, it’s essential to develop a culture where educators and staff use technology on a day-to-day basis, building their own expertise and modeling the use of technology for peers and students.

Regular and persistent use of technology by educators and staff is the best way to create and propagate the creation and growth of a digital culture, and thus, to create a new digital learning environment. Of course, no cultural shift is easy, and providing opportunities for training, best-practice sharing, progress monitoring, and flexibility are all part of the recipe for success.

While change is difficult, knowing what you want to accomplish and understanding and preparing for the process of change can help ensure a successful result. To learn more about organizational change management and education technology, explore our new white paper, written in partnership with education and technology leaders across the U.S.


Renee Patton

Former Global Director of Education and Healthcare

Global Industry Solutions Group