The Kaleidoscope of Voices: An Action Research Approach to Informing Institutional e-Learning Policy
This paper describes a two-spiral action research approach (AR) in its analysis of the experience of a British University endeavouring to change and reposition itself in the context of fast pace external change in terms of innovation. Taking the European Union (EU) 2020 digital competence framework (Ferrari 2013), with its drive to address the huge EU digital skills gap as technological adaptation and use speed up and the call from the UK Government, employers, and students themselves to produce digitally competent graduates Higher Institutions need to consider their proposition. An action research approach, with its reflective stance, is relevant for complex and policy based studies, we argue, as the framework can encompass mixed methods techniques. Informed in conjunction with a ‘Panel of Experts’, thought-leaders drawn from industry and academia, and incorporating a strong student voice, we believe the AR approach is key to offering insights and transparency in the quest for change. The transition from an initial top-down management approach to a kaleidoscopic middle-out partnership of the executive team with key internal stakeholders, including students, academic staff, librarians, learning technologists and IT specialists offers a new and inclusive approach offering the agility and the synergy that traditional models lack. Results indicate that strong research and technological leadership, building internal alliances with key stakeholders, focusing on the ‘middle out’ and a partnership approach to working with the Students Union all contribute to a transformational and shared approach to institution-wide change at a time of complexity and contestation in Higher Education policy.