Implementing a learning technology strategy: top–down strategy meets bottom–up culture
Using interview-based ‘insider case study’ research, this paper outlines why the University of Salford has adopted a Learning Technologies Strategy and examines the factors which are likely to lead to its successful implementation. External reasons for the adoption focused on the need to: respond to ‘increased Higher Education (HE) competition’, meet student expectations of learning technology use, provide more flexibility and access to the curriculum, address the possible determining effect of technology and establish a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) presence in this ‘particular area of the HE landscape’. Internal drivers centred on the need to: continue a ‘bottom– up’ e-learning pilot project initiative, particularly given that a VLE is a ‘complex tool’ which requires effective strategic implementation, and promote the idea that learning technology will play an important role in determining the type of HE institution that the University of Salford wishes to become. Likely success factors highlighted the need to: create ‘time and space’ for innovation, maintain effective communication and consultation at all levels of the organization, emphasize the operational aspects of the strategy, establish a variety of staff development processes and recognize the negotiatory processes involved in understanding the term ‘web presence’ in local teaching cultures. Fundamentally, the paper argues that policy makers should acknowledge the correct ‘cultural configuration’ of HE institutions when seeking to manage and achieve organizational change. Thus, it is not just a question of establishing ‘success factors’ per se but also whether they are contextualized appropriately within a ‘correct’ characterization of the organizational culture.