Change Curves & CAVE’s

Come on own up………………….we’ve all been situations where we resist change. It is, in fact, a natural instinctive thing to do.

“Resistance to change is the action taken by people when they perceive the change to be a threat to their usual activities of daily living.”

— Leedham (2013)

However, as you may well know, change is about the only constant that we do have in our lives. Over the last 4 to 5 years I have been exploring, in practical ways, how to support colleagues in the challenges associated with change (especially with regards to digital scholarship and the broader e-learning agenda).

Through my reading I became particularly interested in the work of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and in particular her model of the Five Stages of Grief. Her model was expanded in the 1980’s to encompass more than bereavement and was referred to as the “Change Curve”.

I began to apply the 5 stages to aspects of my own work in supporting colleagues to use technology in learning and teaching to enhance the student (and staff) experience. In using the model I mapped the 5 stages against the typical journey’s I saw staff undertaking with regards to Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL)

5 Stages of Grief (with TEL comments in brackets)

  • Denial – This isn’t happening to me. (Oh no not something else to learn).
  • Anger – Who’s to blame for this? Why me? (Who made the decision to get this?)
  • Bargaining – If I can live till my daughter’s wedding …. (Why can’t we just stick with………..)
  • Depression – I am too sad to do anything.  (I’m too busy to even think about it.)
  • Acceptance – I’m at peace with what is coming. (Actually it looks ok, might give it a go.)

I particularly like this (image below) expanded version based on the Kübler-Ross model which brings in terms such as “resistance” and “self doubt” which are particular emotions I have witnessed (and personally felt) when approaching new technology.

A highly experienced mentor once told me that there are 3 main groups of staff with regards to influencing change around technology use. These are the evangelists, those who will naturally be inquisitive and try new technology; the resistors, those to whom the change model applies (there is a sliding scale for resistors as some will resist for longer than others) and finally the naysayers, those who just don’t want to change and are excessive complainers. (This final group I have renamed as C.A.V.E.s – Colleagues Against Virtually Everything.)

My mentor also suggested that it’s a waste of time and effort to focus attention on the “naysayers” as they very rarely change their minds. It’s also not worth focussing attention on the evangelists as they will likely pick it up and run with it anyway, so the focus should be on the resistors, those who can be persuaded to change.

So what’s all this got to do with the 4E Framework?

I began to realise that as part of the change process staff had to take ownership for the rationale behind the use of technology. It wasn’t always enough for them to see others using it, they had to believe it was right for them. I am also not in favour of the “you MUST do it” approach as this can result in poor experiences for both staff & students.

I came across the 3E Framework developed at Edinburgh Napier University and was immediately struck by it’s practical approach to supporting and guiding staff in the use of TEL.

“To make active use of technology to meaningfully enhance the learning, teaching and
assessment experience across all modules.”

— 3E Framework Introduction: Edinburgh Napier University 2011

I was also enthused by the fact that it was released on an open license and so something which could be built upon and adapted for use. The Napier 3E’s are Enhance, Extend and Empower and are intended to be hierarchical, moving from Enhance activities through to Empower. I wonder sometimes if hierarchical models are sometimes in themselves a barrier and so you should note that my 4E Framework is not hierarchical. (I only have anecdotal evidence for this so if you are reading this and have more robust research to suggest models with hierarchy can be a barrier to adoption I would be grateful).

I began to get feedback on the 3E Framework within my own institution and through this was able to identify some potential changes to meet our own needs. I identified that we have 3 main uses for technology in learning & teaching.

  1. Staff use it as an enabler – to allow us to do things that we couldn’t do if the technology wasn’t available.
  2. Particularly related to TEL was the use of technology to add to or improve a currently established learning experience (e.g. using polling software in lectures.) I eventually categorised this as enhancement.
  3. Using technology to broaden a students understanding of a subject, not just with regards to the subject content but also perhaps culturally, ethically, morally etc. This I eventually categorised as enrichment.

I had initially intended to run with these alternative 3E’s but our work internally on our Digital Literacy graduate attribute and the work of the Napier framework convinced me to include “Empower” as the fourth “E”, with a particular emphasis on moving technology choice and decision making from teacher to student. (This was partly influenced by my reading around some of the student as co-producer work being led by University of Lincoln).

The final influence was drawn from my exploration of Diana Laurillard’s “Conversational Framework“, although more complex than I wanted for my own framework, it’s ethos of decision making through communication, conversation and critical narrative was of particular interest.

4E Framework Graphic

4E Framework Graphic

And so the 4E Framework was born. It is very early in it’s life, it will grow into a practical framework, extending the conversation into supporting the practical application of the ideas which are generated through the conversations.

You may also wonder about the 4E Graphic development – that is explained in this blog post.

Please take a look at the framework, give feedback and of course feel free to use it, after-all it’s openly licensed.