Communication and Change Management in Educational Institutions During COVID-19
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud services have been integral in enabling remote work and access to content among all industries- and higher education institutions are certainly no exception. Right now universities have an obscure future; during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unclear what tomorrow’s physical campus will look like. Consequently, change management in educational institutions is even more uncertain.
Higher Education Cloud Collaboration Benefits During a Pandemic
Higher education institutions that have migrated to the cloud can take full advantage of what cloud collaboration has to offer and be prepared for the unexpected.
In one case, while the University of Miami wanted more collaboration to enable remote work anytime, they also wanted to future-proof the campus in case of emergencies, such as a hurricane. This desire was particularly helpful in 2020. “Especially right now during COVID-19, this has been helpful to have all of these different collaboration tools,” said UM’s Sr. IT Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services.
In another scenario, Harvey Mudd College leveraged its migration tool’s platform flexibility by always being able to accommodate the needs of its staff and students. Ultimately, HMC’s students and staff have much more convenience with their content, and can even access it on mobile devices. In the end, their file permissions are now much easier to manage than before. Plus, HMC has a tool flexible enough for any future changes – including those sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Has Higher Education Changed Over The Years?
It’s no secret that cloud-based environments have helped universities reduce IT costs, simplify access to information, increase their geographical reach of education, and, of course, help manage content. But change never stops, and for higher education, that means constantly adapting. Adapting to the new means for students to learn, new technologies to enable remote learning or any other plethora of factors.
Changes can be good, but they can also be a tough pill to swallow. So, as always with changes, comes change management.
“…candid communication has been really helpful moving forward with this unpopular decision.”
Higher Education Change Management Case Study
Indiana University’s Communications Manager had placed a lot of importance and effort into how they would communicate all of the upcoming changes from their multi-cloud migration to the users. Before they officially began the project, they sent out a survey to find out exactly which features from their current storage provider would be most important to maintain during their switch. More specifically, this survey helped to understand what they were going to need to focus on in their communications, and what features they would need to promote or replace.
Ultimately IU allowed students and staff to choose their destination, whether it be one cloud storage platform or the other.
“It’s been a challenge to communicate this message during the pandemic,” said the communications manager.
It’s no doubt Indiana University had a lot of new information to communicate. Unfortunately, their migration announcement happened around the same time that the institution announced that the spring semester would only last two more weeks to prepare for remote learning due to the COVID-19 lock-down. As a result, many users naturally overlooked the message about the changes in cloud storage.
To make up for lost efforts, the team continuously sent emails, posted on social media, shared e-newsletters, and even tracked how often these emails were actually being read through Salesforce. Information generally included a detailed description of what users can expect, and what they need to do for the migration. Additionally, the university offered IT training webinars, an information page on its website, and knowledge-based documents. For example, one particularly useful document essentially translated the technical language of the migration to everyday language. The communications manager also noted that “candid communication has been really helpful moving forward with this unpopular decision.”
Read the whole case study here.
What Are the Five Steps of Change Management in Educational Institutions?
5 Steps of Effective Change Management Infographic
Regardless of the size of the educational institution, or the destination platform, every business should create a change management strategy for how they plan to deploy the new system and drive adoption to ensure a smooth transition and maximize the return on their new technology investment.
- Gather Information: Collect some general metrics and data on your current content landscape and user behaviors
- Prioritize Needs: Find out which features and changes will need to be maintained or not based on data
- Set Objectives: Share clear expectations with users so they can prepare for the upcoming transition
- Communicate Constantly: Convey what changes will be happening when as specifically as possible. Use emails, training sessions, newsletters, etc.
- Continuous Evaluation: Track your metrics and progress – how do you know your change management plan is working? Make sure people are getting the messages and adapting according to any objectives set in step 3.
As the fall semester draws near, virtual or not, higher education institutions have a difficult route to navigate. No one knows what the COVID-19 pandemic will look like when fall does arrive, but universities can takes notes on how these education institutions handled change management to point themselves in the right direction.
What Are The Three Types of Strategic Change Management?
In order to realize the full potential of any new technology, user adoption is key. However, it can be incredibly hard to ensure that users will like and adopt the new platform without a solid change management strategy. While every educational institution, every user base, and every implementation is unique, the key pillars of user adoption are not.
We’ve compiled all of our tips and tricks on how you can (and should) use strategic change management in educational institutions to improve user adoption and ROI of new technologies: