Digital literacy development requires a range of approaches to change which both respond to and help shape organisational culture. Culture is complex but is essentially about ‘the way we do things around here’.
Each institution will have its own culture and a web of sub-cultures across subject disciplines, departments, teams, role groups etc. Working with these is important but changing the culture itself is an opportunity which requires skilled leadership.
A key finding from the Institute of Education project in relation to change management is that:
the classic opposition of “top down” and “bottom up” change failed to explain how the project could achieve institutional change. Instead, opportunistic “middle out” change proved most effective: spotting institutional developments and either weaving them through our analysis work, or supporting particular initiatives by providing them with the evidence base they needed to secure institutional support and resourcing.
The project team presented on their model of organisational change to the Jisc online conference in session called projects, policy and digital literacies: from student experience to organisational change.
The change management detailed guide looks at culture and approaches to change in detail but here are some key messages from the existing digital literacy initiatives:
- Invest in partnership approaches which engage staff, students and other stakeholders across the institution – students as change agents are particularly effective
- Create opportunities for conversation and development through workshops, events and other development opportunities
- Work digital literacies into other change agendas is more effective than pursuing a consensus through more isolated initiatives
- Understand what influences and motivates different groups ie forms of communication, reward and recognition etc
- Know your audience and always talk about digital literacy in context ie what it means to different subject disciplines, professional roles etc
- Enable communities of practice or peer networks to develop and encourage links across departments and roles while maintaining a strategic overview
- Provide seed funding for mini projects
Students as change agents
Institutions are engaging students in digital literacy projects through a range of roles such as co-researchers, mentors, and technical support. The advantages are that students are generally more digitally confident and fluent than staff in the use of personal and social media. Although students need support in applying this digital know-how successfully to academic study, they are often more willing to explore the possibilities that technology can bring to their learning.
These practices can be developed effectively by working in partnership with staff and other students. Students can also feel empowered by their involvement in change, benefiting from new personal and work-related skills as initiatives at Oxford Brookes University and the University of Greenwich show.
Evaluating the impact of digital literacy initiatives will provide evidence of change, identify successful and unsuccessful approaches and build a case for continuing development activities. The review section will look at tools and approaches to help understand the current ‘as is’ situation and evaluate progress against objectives.
- Change management detailed guide
- Organisational development resources
- Change Agents Network effective practice resources
- Students as digital pioneers - outcomes and lessons from the developing digital literacies programme
- Students as change agents - resources from across Jisc programmes
- Planning a participatory workshop