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Posts Tagged ‘buy-in

Mention systemic or organisational change in schools and you will invariably hear a few phrases like taking baby steps, involving stakeholders, and creating buy-in.

These and other practices are critical to making change that is actually worthwhile and effective. However, the change processes often have unspoken assumptions. For example, I unpacked what is wrong with taking baby steps.

Today, I focus on buy-in.

Creating buy-in among stakeholders of change is important because if they are not aware of the need or do not believe in the change, the effort is doomed from the start.

However, it is not enough to simply create buy-in. Buy-in is a state of mind. It is about understanding what the change is, projecting possibilities, and deciding to be associated with it.

The message to buy into can sometimes remain someone else’s property. Stakeholders may understand the rationale for change, but still think “This is not really our problem or that is your solution!”

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being.

What is missing is ownership. Ownership is a state of being. It is a sense of belonging.

Creating this type of ownership is less traditionally top-down and more socially bottom-up. Depending on the structure of organisation, ownership can also be generated middle-up-and-down by an empowered group that deeply understands both ends.

Creating buy-in tends to be associated with the process of communicating change. It typically involves engaging stakeholders at the early phase of change efforts.

However, ownership is about articulating change. It is not only about connecting with stakeholders, but also moving them and empowering them to take action. Creating ownership is a continuous, multi-phase process.

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being. It is far more important and effective to create ownership of change.

Thanks to a tweet from tucksoon, I read the provocatively titled Why schools don’t need ICT.

What the article meant to say was that it was pointless to buy ICT if you got “nothing obvious in return”. To put it simply, don’t buy ICT if it is not going to make teaching and learning more efficient or effective. Don’t buy ICT if it is going to take up time, money, space and other resources just to maintain the status quo.

Why do schools invest in so many laptops only to lock them administratively so that teachers cannot even install more useful software? (You can probably think of several reasons, most of them administrative, none of them about learning.) The teachers and students might as well use their own.

What could schools promote instead? At least two things: Ownership and buy in.

The ICTs with which we can teach and students can learn are already in the hands, pockets and bags of the people walking in and out of schools. These include mobile computing devices like smartphones or even iPad-like devices.

Users could be encouraged to use what they already own for learning instead of being told to switch them off. All the school needs to do is provide and maintain a robust and wide-ranging wireless network. Have students who don’t own these devices? Help them own them. Might there be misuse or even abuse of these devices? That’s life, deal with it.

Don’t buy ICT. Create buy in to these ideas instead. Administrators and teachers need to see the point of using the powerful devices that they and their students already have at their disposal. Students already use them, almost religiously in their social lives. Teachers too. What they need is to see how to use these same devices in educational contexts. Then only do you get buy in.

That’s short for powerful learning practice and doing what works.

At the end of 2009, Will Richardson asked what had changed in schools and suggested it was time for PLP. If you head over to the PLP site, two headers stand out: 1) our students are changing and 2) schools are not.

So how does one realign schools to relevant and critical changes? Rather than push technologies blindly, PLP seems to sell ideas to educators by first providing the experiences and underlying rationale and pedagogies of more current technologies.

I’ve highlighted this part in the YouTube video below. Get to the critical portion (1min 08sec – 2min 00sec mark) directly by clicking on the video source link or watch the video in its entirety below.

Video source

So, that is certainly one way of getting teachers to buy in and change.

But they will need continued support and a constant stream of ideas. They can do this by establishing personal learning networks via PLP, Twitter lists, Facebook groups, etc.

They can also get support from the US Department of Education’s Doing What Works site whose mission is to “translate research-based practices into practical tools to improve classroom instruction”.

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