“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end” – Robin Sharma
Although change can be scary, it’s often necessary and can lead to great outcomes if given the attention it deserves. When it comes to organizational change, such as the migration from one learning management system (LMS) to another, an institution must build a change strategy to have the greatest chance of success. An effective change strategy must include a clear communication plan, support from faculty, and stakeholder buy-in right from the beginning.
From a practical standpoint, here are a four tips of the trade for managing change when migrating to a new LMS:
1. Communicate a Clear Strategy & Message
Align the reason for the change with the institutional strategic plan and ensure all stakeholders spread the same message. People need to understand the reasons behind a change in order to feel engaged. Once they understand the “why,” everyone is more likely to contribute to making the transition an easy process.
- Next steps: Review Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” It’s a great example of how initiatives should be constructed and communicated. Strategic plan alignment will assure that everything is coherent and respects the nature of the organization.
2. Engage Key Stakeholders Early
It’s important to engage with all stakeholders. This could include groups such as union executives, the student association, student support services, faculty development/human resources, corporate services, etc. They are the enablers of the project. Get them on-board quickly.
- Next steps: Be inclusive in who you invite to the different meetings regarding the LMS migration. Often times, people who feel excluded from decisions become disengaged. Do the opposite; get them engaged as early as possible. A permanent committee on change management can evolve from these discussions.
3. Identify a Valuable LMS Feature for Faculty
It’s not necessary to seek usage of all tools in the platform at once. Develop a gradual plan, which will give time for adjustment. It’s also important to eventually close doors to other systems in order to direct everyone to one point of access. This adds clarity and coherence for users.
- Next steps: Think of a feature that could be universal and easy to implement as a first step. For example, a class list tool is a good place to start. Through integration, why not add pictures of students in the tool to incite faculty members to use it frequently? We’ve seen this approach trigger some very strong adoption numbers for clients.
4. Develop a Faculty Support Model
The move from one LMS to another is a great opportunity to remodel faculty support. Typically, group training sessions are not enough. Try offering a “just-in-time” service where faculty can access support when they need it. For the more autonomous learners, tutorials are very valuable.
- Next step: Think outside the box. Why not “flip” faculty support like we encourage teachers to do with students? We should be offering more content online and focus on hands-on activities while onsite. Think about creating a space where connections are at the heart of operations and human interactions are celebrated.