Tech Change Project Leveraging the Power of social media for real-time collaboration

Change can be hard.

While it can ultimately lead to positive innovations, often the road to true positive change is bumpy and rough. In an excerpt from the Johns Hopkins School of Education publication, Creating the Future, Campbell (1991) outlines a series of guidelines for strategic change in the educational setting.

Through this site, I will propose an operational change to be implemented in my current role as a Content Specialist in a large publishing company. We will examine this proposal in the context of Campbell's guidelines for change.

This quote, which we will revisit, succinctly summarizes the beauty of a collaborative communication tool to support ongoing pilots.

In my role, I support many ongoing pilots in which districts utilize our products in the classroom for an extended period of time to determine whether or not the resources are a good fit for their district and their students.

Often, these pilots begin with a one day in-service implementation session in which teachers learn about the products. It's a crash course introduction to the resources.

Yet, we know that the real learning happens when teachers have an opportunity to discuss, implement, reflect, and iterate on their practice.

In larger pilots, we often come back to the school several times to visit with teachers on planning periods, answer questions, and provide feedback.

In smaller, more rural areas, that's not always feasible.

The question becomes: how do we provide teachers in the pilot setting with ongoing support and the opportunity to collaborate and connect without having to be on site multiple times over the course of a pilot?

The use of social media platforms can help us to provide real-time support and the opportunity for collaboration and connection over the course of an extended pilot.

Seeking support for educational change means finding your allies. Not everyone will be on board, and that's okay. Campbell suggests that consensus and majority are not necessary to initiate change, but that it is important to seek out people who will advocate for the innovation. In this case, there are two main groups from which I will need to seek out advocates - both internal and external stakeholders.

This video provides a model of the change effort and articulates the rationale for utilizing a Google Plus community over other potential platforms.

In this situation, the only real resource needed is time and pre-made content to be used as posts in the community.

Additional time is needed for two parties: the owner and the participants in the Google+ community.

To provide teachers with the time needed to learn the tool, we will utilize it as the primary platform for communication in the initial in-service and special "Google+ Tips" will be woven into the in-service.

Don Kelley and Darryl Connor outlined the emotional cycle of change that change agents can anticipate experiencing in the wake of innovation and change. Those steps are outlined below:

  1. Uninformed Optimism
  2. Informed Pessimism
  3. Hopeful Realism
  4. Informed Optimism
  5. A Sense of Rewarding Completion

As discussed before, there are really two stakeholders or affected groups in this change initiative. The first group are the company employees. Honestly, I anticipate that they'll be the ones who experience the emotional cycle of change more acutely as it more directly impacts their day-to-day operations. Simply being aware of this structure will be helpful in addressing employee concerns and frustrations.

The second group, the classroom teachers, really have the option to engage in the process (or not!) so it adds a unique element. They're not quite as invested in the process nor does it dramatically impact their day-to-day workflow.

Campbell's sixth guideline states that we must anticipate restructuring problems and identify problem-solving skills. In the text, she cites Matthew Miles' work with proactive and productive problem solving strategies. One point that he makes is that leaders must always be "monitoring progress and revising plans accordingly."

In terms of this project, this is probably the most utilitarian take-away from this guideline. Each pilot is a new opportunity to start fresh and iterate. With that in mind, the use of polling and surveys will be vital to ensure that teachers are having their needs met.

To that end, I will deploy a mid-pilot poll within the Google+ Community to get a sense as to how things are going and include a few questions about the use of the community generally. At the end of the pilot, I will ask for feedback from participants on that piece as well, so that we can integrate the feedback into the next round.

Image captured from sample Google+ Community.

Options for shared ownership and moderation make the diffusion and sharing of leadership incredibly easy. In the early stage model I shared, you can see that there are two owners: myself and Shelby.

For every pilot account, there are generally a few people supporting the teachers. First, there's the Account Executive or sales rep who is responsible for providing the materials and cost proposals. In this case, that's Shelby.

There are also Content Specialists (that's me!) who work specifically with the content and support the teachers.

The ownership of the Google Communities must be shared by all stakeholders to ensure that teachers get what they need, when they need it. It's also imperative from a relational standpoint.

Again, there will be two stakeholder groups to address. For classroom teachers, there's a really easy connection to classroom instruction - tons of other GREAT Google+ communities to explore. Also, as the content-provider for the pilot community group, it will be up to me to ensure that the content and resources shared are helpful enough to warrant ongoing engagement.

To address the needs of my coworkers, it needs to be EASY. Company stakeholders need to see that moderation is easy on the go using the Google+ app, the static content folders can be reused each time so there's no need to recreate the wheel each time, and there are some great extensions available that allow you to schedule "engagement" posts in advance so that it's easy to manage the group.

Options for Scaling

To me, Guideline 9 is all about scaling. Is this model or change effort sustainable?

In the context of this project, the effort could easily be operationalized so that anyone could create and moderate a Google+ community to run their pilot. As I created my own resources, I simply kept a running checklist of "to-dos" that another person could easily replicate. It's just a matter of actually USING the tool and making that a norm.

Credits:

Created with images by COD Newsroom - "College of DuPage STEM Professional Development Workshop Teaches the Art of Escape Games 2017 101" • Barrett Web Coordinator - "Professional Development SIOP" • COD Newsroom - "College of DuPage STEM Professional Development Workshop Teaches the Art of Escape Games 2017 28" • COD Newsroom - "College of DuPage STEM Professional Development Workshop Teaches the Art of Escape Games 2017 83" • FirmBee - "apple imac ipad" • FredCintra - "Control is an Option to Command"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.