IMPLEMENTING LARGE-SCALE CHANGE IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS; ONE INSTITUTIONS’ RESPONSE TO FILL THE SKILLS GAP OF 21ST CENTURY INDUSTRIES
Educational institutions confront the challenge of preparing students with the competencies desired by employers and with the skills and abilities needed to fill the skills gap identified by industries of the 21st century. To respond to the changing nature of business, institutions exist within a continuous state of flexibility and innovation to change, thereby exhibiting a readiness and eagerness to enhance course curriculum.
At the start of the 2017 calendar year, DeVry University began a large-scale institutional curriculum change. The national deans, approximately 20 local campus administrators, and more than 80 full-time faculty from across the United States began working on an ambitious project with the goal of enhancing the curriculum of more than 200 courses across the university. The national deans began by identifying core courses from general education and the various colleges that could help support the development of communication, collaboration, and technology-based skills to help lessen the skill gap with industry. From there, deans worked to coordinate pairs of local campus administrators and assigning these individuals to guide 10-member faculty teams. Each team was assigned approximately 30 courses and given the freedom to make course enhancements that focused on:
(1) raising the level of student-to-student collaboration,
(2) creating innovate learning activities that were enriched with cloud-based technology and web-conferencing,
(3) enabling students to engage in the content of the course from multiple devices, and
(4) excitement around change and the need to maintain flexibility.
The basis for the change and directing course enhancements within the given parameters was in response to the industry need for job candidates who are prepared for careers in the digitized, interdependent, and dynamic work environment of the 21st century.
Using this curriculum enhancement project as a case study, this paper explores the theory of change readiness and the process of change in higher education. Change readiness is a state of an organization such as an educational institution that reflects its preparedness to embrace new ways of operating. Following a brief discussion of change readiness, the paper introduces a framework for understanding the process of change in educational institutions. Finally, using the curriculum enhancement project to exemplify the theoretical principles introduced, this paper concludes by underscoring the lessons learned from implementing and guiding institutional curriculum changes that can be useful to educational institutions considering large-scale change.