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Driving change

The secret to a successful LMS implementation

Implementing a new learning management system (LMS) is kind of like learning to drive a car…except if you had 3,000 passengers eagerly watching over your shoulder. It’s a unique mix of excitement, intimidation, exhilaration and utter, white-knuckle terror.

And much like driving a car, the implementation process should circle back to the singular, and often overlooked question, ‘where are you trying to get to?’

It’s common for schools to become so blinded by the technical capabilities and operation of their LMS platform, they lose sight of what they’re actually trying to achieve. Before they know it, they’re adrift in a labyrinth of confusing functionality which – in a cruel twist of irony – can amplify the very problems it was brought in to address.

This is the central issue that Kim Edwards – SEQTA trainer, IB consultant and former Deputy Principal – tackles in her two-day change management workshop, Leading SEQTA.

“Many schools I meet have a good idea of what they want to achieve, but haven’t adequately set themselves up to achieve it,” she explains.

“And truth be told, that’s more of an indictment on the LMS provider’s implementation standards than it is on the school itself.”

As far as commentary about implementation goes, Kim’s opinions are as meaningful as anyone’s.

“I couldn’t tell you how many implementations I’ve been involved with,” she laughs, reflecting on more than 22-years of change management experience as both a Deputy Principal and school consultant.

“…But what I can tell you is that implementation is far more than just getting the software operational and teaching people how to use it.”

“It’s the total full-circle process involved with getting everybody on the same page and aware of their role and responsibilities within the context of the change.”

“It’s the cultural shift that needs to occur to encourage users to adopt new processes.”

“And perhaps most importantly, it’s about understanding and defining the actual steps schools need to take to achieve what they want to achieve.”

This, at its core, is what Leading SEQTA is all about.

A 2017 study, based on over ten years of research, supports the value of change programmes like Leading SEQTA; declaring that initiatives with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet objectives than those with poor change management.

Michael Martin, Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning at Saint Ignatius’ College Adelaide, is one of the many educators to experience Leading SEQTA first-hand and admits he and his team were impressed with what they saw.

Leading SEQTA answered quite a few questions I had in my mind at the start of those two days,” he begins.

“I think we’ve come away with a really good idea of what our goals should be and also a plan I think we can run with.”

“It gave me greater clarity around where our journey might take us and the timeframes around that.”

Phil Donato, Head of Senior School at Saint Ignatius’, builds on his colleague’s point, stating that the content, paired with Kim’s unique, down-to-earth delivery, has helped his school develop a detailed implementation plan tailored to their specific needs.

“It was fantastic, it was really, worth it,” he said of the workshop.

“By the end of it we understood, ‘well, this is what the product can actually do,’ and – as Kim added her comments along the way – she really guided a plan that is totally achievable.”

“Credit to the company for bringing Kim on board!”

Just 20-minutes down the road, the staff at Gleeson College are at a similar point in their implementation journey, with the project team recently completing their uniquely tailored version of the Leading SEQTA workshop.

Numeracy Coordinator, Tim Bond, laughed nervously when recounting the mountain of work his team tackled during the intensive two-day programme.

“Have a good dinner the night before” he joked, before advising that future participants should be prepared to think deeply and strategically for long periods of time.

“I really appreciate how the workshop was actually a workshop, rather just a presentation for two days,” he said.

“We were working for that whole time. We were very much involved in the process of determining how SEQTA is going to look here.”

“[SEQTA] could have very easily just come to us and said ‘here’s the things you need to do’ – and that would have been OK – but the fact they got us to actually think about it and engage from our own end of things, I though was really valuable.”

Kim believes the majority of LMS providers don’t do enough to help schools achieve long-term success, but argues SEQTA is an exception.

“We want schools to succeed,” Kim tells me, after returning from three weeks of Leading SEQTA workshops across Adelaide, Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“In my experience, many LMS providers seem to withdraw the bulk of their support once the technical implementation has been signed off, leaving schools to navigate the complexities of change management, largely by themselves.”

“But SEQTA is different. The personalised support that clients get – from the solutions team, the implementation team, the change management workshops, the school relationship managers and the helpdesk team – is ongoing and honestly, it’s second-to-none.”

“This customer-centric focus is what attracted me to SEQTA in the first place, and I’m really proud to be able to play a role in helping schools achieve their unique goals.”

If you’d like to learn more about Leading SEQTA or driving change at your school, contact Kim Edwards at 08 9301 2277.

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