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Resisting Change: If it's futile, why do so many people do it?




Kim Eke, Manager, Teaching and Learning Interactive, UNC-Chapel Hill
Megan Perrone, Marketing Manager, rSmart


June 14, 2011


11 AM - 12 PM


Beaudry B


It is human nature to resist something unfamiliar and outside one's comfort zone. Unfortunately, fear, anxiety, and angry opposition can trump rational arguments, data, and openness to change. This is exactly how many faculty (and students) feel when they are told they have to switch to a new LMS.

This interactive presentation will begin with a discussion of why faculty resist change, followed by a few examples of change models from the research literature and small group brainstorming by session participants, and will conclude with concrete examples, tactics and strategies that have been used successfully to overcome faculty resistance. 

If you are considering a Sakai pilot or if your institution is conducting a pilot, or if you are in the midst of a full-fledged migration from a legacy LMS to Sakai, this session is for you!

Interactive Session Questions: 

We split into 3 groups based on whether one is Evaluating, Migrating, or Using Sakai as sole LMS. Below are some of the notes from our session.

What are your biggest challenges?

    • Low faculty buy-in because they're happy with their current LMS
    • Lack of support
    • Project sponsors not taking evaluation seriously
    • Bad experience during last LMS transition; fear of new transition
    • Fear of change; don't want to
    • Migration
    • End-user comfort levels
    • Executive level support
    • "Tool shock!" (note: someone needs to draw a cartoon for this)
    • Procrastination
    • Moving "laggards"
    • Using Sakai in innovative and transformative ways (beyond the doc repository
    • Wide variety of sites with tools renamed creates confusion for students
    • Historical issues continue to resurface; political implications
    • Keeping upgrades as close to the core Sakai as possible (avoid urge to customize Sakai too much)

What strategies have you used that have been successful (or not so successful)?

    • Interviews - how are you using it and and what is important?
    • Surveys & demonstrations
    • Identify faculty advocates to push it up to leaders on campus
    • Define the need that Sakai can address/improve/help them*
    • Contract with vendors 
    • Run pilots
    • Develop marketing; spread the word
    • Form a committee to conduct an evaluation
    • Get community involvement and use peers to help spread the word
    • "White Glove Service" - move content for faculty and set up their sites for them
    • Make things easy for faculty (create non-$$ incentives for them to use)
    • Establish and use governance structures
    • Encourage user-to-user communications
    • Provide on-sit, drop-in support during business hours
    • Don't rest and become complacent because there's a lot of work to do

What are you thinking of doing but haven't done yet?

    • Create prototypes of classes & get feedback
    • Show features beyond courses
    • Community involvement to gain top-down support
    • Early adoption/adopters
    • Encourage faculty to evaluate their current workflows
    • Offer more options for support
    • Create exemplars
    • Incorporate widgets & developments from the community
    • Participate more fully in the community

There are many theoretical models that can guide you as you try to spread innovations and new ideas on your campus. In this presentation we discuss two:

  1. Diffusion of Innovations model (Rodgers)
  2. Concerns-based Adoption model (Hall & Hord)
  3. Kim's super-short notes on both

Note: A lot of the notes and ideas here complement the notes generated during the Birds of a Feather (BoF) we had the next day entitled, "How to Support Sakai with No New Staff or Money."