In my analyses of successful (and unsuccessful) transformation processes, four system characteristics stand out as being key elements in promoting (or inhibiting) change.
Perhaps the most important element is Leadership. Each successful institution has
demonstrated a track record of “courageous leadership” during their transformation. Best systems do not emerge from consensus, but they are created by consensus. Consensus is created by informed and courageous leadership; leadership that is willing to make the investment in time, resources, and care necessary to overcome challenges that are both concrete as well as psychological.
Leadership Issue Questions
1. Describe the culture of leadership on this campus.
2. Describe how you have influenced campus leaders through the innovative use of
3. What efforts are you aware of on our campus to support new forms of teaching
and learning and who is leading those efforts?
4. Is funding necessary to support new forms of teaching and learning, and, if so,
who has it?
5. What rewards exist to recognize achievements and efforts in new forms of
teaching and learning? Is it enough, or are there other rewards we can seek?
6. Is the current leadership model working? Is change due to systemic
considerations or due to the individual advocacy of specific leaders? Is there a
belief in the stability of the support infrastructure regardless of the identity of the
A second element that appears to be vital to successful transformation is a process that produces, on the part of the faculty, a sense of inclusion. Systemic change necessitates
the involvement and, most importantly, the cooperation of all elements of that system. This includes administrative staff and students as well as faculty. The earlier and the more publicly this inclusion occurs, the greater the payoff in the later stages of implementation. While campuses vary in this regard, faculty tend to have a much stronger organized presence on campus than either the student body or staff. . Successful efforts are both sensitive to this question and use faculty participation to help develop the parameters of the process. The more public this inclusion is during the beginning of the process the better. During the implementation stage, care must be taken to avoid faculty feeling that the change was somehow imposed on them.
1. Critical systems at the UW – are these designed in a way to eliminate barriers
between faculty and technology? Why or why not?
2. Within the campus community, who plays a role with transformation efforts?
3. Who/what are the policy-making bodies that influence change? To what degree
do theses groups represent the identified constituencies?
4. How are new support initiatives and policies generated on your campus?
5. Do faculty have a significant influence on setting criteria for the rewards process?
6. How are staff represented in the development of faculty-related issues and
The third fact to emerge from this overview, and one that is strongly related to the concept of inclusion, is that communication is vital to successful institutional
transformation. Support centers must be able to publicize their services to the academic community and, perhaps more important, faculty exchanges regarding transformation must be shared.
1. Look around the room and review this campus community of IT
support/instruction staff. As we consider new forums to share and communicate,
highlight reasons why new connections would benefit your work or benefit your
2. Does the 2003 campus computing survey match our perceptions of the campus
computing environment and climate?
3. How does the hierarchical structure of your College/Institution impede or
expedite transformative change?
4. How are support services/innovations publicized? Is the way that we
communicate effective? Are we reaching the audience we intend to reach?
Are there other ways we should be reaching out?
5. How are faculty innovations publicized, and does publicity cross unit or
department boundaries on our campus?
6. Are there systematic ways by which innovations/techniques developed in the
broader academic community are identified and imported into your own academic
Change is a difficult process because its success is heavily dependent on shared perceptions. There has to be agreement both on the question of the need that the change targets as well as on whether the proposed change is the most appropriate way to answer that need. Many, especially in academic environments, see change as a threat. We need to reflect on the ways in which the campus climate influences: identifying the need for change; the pace of change; overcoming resistance to change; and making predictions about the future.
1. How do you personally react to change? How does this influence the way you
make decisions to respond to change?
2. Describe the climate for change in which you work. Does your environment
support or discourage change?
3. How widely shared are your perceptions of campus needs?
4. Make a prediction. How quickly will change and adoption of new tools come
about at UW Madison? Describe your basis for making this prediction. 5. Reflect on why change happens slowly on the UW campus. What are the barriers
that prevent change from happening in terms of teaching and learning in the
6. Highlight success stories: share ways in which IT support/instructional staff have
worked with faculty to bring change to teaching and learning.
7. Recognize the role that TA and instructional staff play in the classroom. How can
instructional IT staff help create a bridge between TAs and faculty to help educate
faculty on the adoption of technology in the classroom?