In the first piece of our change management series, we discussed how to overcome factors that may be causing resistance in your institution during the transition to digital. One of the key underlying takeaways of which was maintaining strong lines of communication.
This is a concept further echoed by Ben McCammick-Copley, media production manager at University College of Estate Management (UCEM), in his interview with VitalSource® in 2018. He stated that you need strong communications to support the time you invest in getting people on board.
The first of Prosci’s 5 Tips for Better Communication Around Change is to structure your efforts. Prosci notes that “when communication occurs in the context of a change, it is not effective to simply tell people facts.” This is even more strikingly true when it comes to the change from print to digital provision at a university. Along with email and paper updates, McCammick-Copley also recommends providing staff the opportunity for hands-on experience with the digital platform and an implementation of a champion scheme.
Email and paper updates
Whilst seemingly basic, it is important to have a communication plan from the beginning of the project that keeps staff and students who are not at the centre of the change in the know. This is an element that is so often overlooked or not sufficiently planned from the start and can take a lot more effort than first anticipated. VitalSource can provide email templates, one-page flyers, and PowerPoint presentations to help ensure messaging is as cohesive and informative as possible. If you hit a bump in the road and the project is delayed, communicate it; if things are hitting target or doing better than expected, communicate it!
Along with regular updates regarding the progress of the implementation itself, “you need to get people in rooms using and experiencing the platform and the resource you are trying to get them on board with.” Whether your institution’s project team deliver workshops or a member of the VitalSource team comes to campus to run them, establishing a base knowledge of the systems—and how they can be integrated into teaching and learning methods—will set you up for success.
Having eBook champions situated on campus can really open up lines of communication between staff and the project team. According to Ben McCammick-Copley, “creating champions can help really build an opportunity where people can play and learn with the resource themself and feel comfortable and confident talking about it and then passing that onto others.”
It’s important to remember that communication extends further than emails, paper documents, and brief conversations with academics. It needs to be all encompassing for both students and staff, and something that doesn’t end as soon as the project has gone live, but rather a living and forever expanding plan of action. Open lines of communication should also not be limited to those amongst internal entities at your institution, but also between your digital project team and your e-learning provider. No matter what vendor you use, insist on understanding the resources they can make available to you to support all stages of your implementation.