In keeping with international trends of introducing online collaboration and networked learning, South Africa too has joined the race. For this blog I draw extensively from my research on teacher collaboration conducted for the completion of my Doctoral studies. I believe that the literature is equally relevant to facilitators in higher education. The lesson learnt from that study is to be cautious as we put structures into place without consideration of the culture of the very people we expect to be impacted by the implementation.

The literature on educational change suggests that attempts at restructuring are unsuccessful due to features associated with the nature of the change. Change theorists profess that the most successful way to begin implementation is to consider the relevance (interaction between need, clarity, and utility) and readiness (capacity and need); otherwise it will only be partially successful or not successful at all.

There are also many perspectives of change including the technical, political and cultural. The technological perspective assumes that all people share a common interest in promoting the move from face to face to online interaction. What is required is for facilitators to believe that first working online and second working collaboratively will yield better output. The political perspective emphasises issues of power, authority, and competing interests that influence the veracity and appeal of the change process as well as the impact the change has on those they affect, such as teachers. The cultural perspective assumes that group norms, rather than political or economic interests, determine the process of change unlike the political perspective which assumes a common set of values, presupposes a fragmented society, and assumes there is basic agreement on values within organisations and groups and less agreement between groups. The cultural perspective is useful in explaining how different cultures affect the process of change.

3. Restructure-Reculture: Separate or Simultaneous