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Digital Literacies for Organisational Development in Higher Education


The ODHE brings together HE practitioners with responsibilities for supporting organisational-level development within their institutions. Senior members are involved with strategic-level decision making on organisational initiatives such as restructuring the institution or introducing new policies. Other OD staff are then involved with planning and supporting implementation of these changes Members of the ODHE are well placed to understand and support change processes within institutions. They engage at all levels, act on Senior Management’s instructions, and can promote useful information flows up, down and across the organisation. These dialogues help deal with the complex and multi-layered nature of change.

DLs are becoming increasingly embedded within organisational processes. Few, if any, organisational changes do not have DL aspects. HE Staff cannot escape engagement. As the Times Higher Education comments, current hierarchical modes of working are outmoded.  For many this is a positive, democratic change, for others, an unwelcome shift. Change management is a core aspect of Organisational Development (OD) and practitioners are therefore central to embedding a more digitally literate culture.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many OD practitioners are not comfortable with DLs. Opportunities for the effective use of DLs can easily be missed or not enthusiastically promoted. This bid is about helping organisational developers to gain confidence with DLs through building better understanding of best practice. ODs would then be able to contribute much more effectively to organisational take-up of DL initiatives.
The University of Winchester has worked with the ODHE as part of the JISC funded Embed-IT project, on a project ‘Bringing Organisational Development Guidance into IT’ (BODGIT). Findings demonstrated the need to share experiences to reduce ‘silo’ cultures (although most academics have strong affinity to their disciplines) and to demonstrate clear benefits to staff: the arguments that count are likely to relate to saving time and improving the student experience. The project framework was especially useful in highlighting the importance of change management and encouraging us to apply general change concepts to IT, recognising the huge pressures colleagues are experiencing; and their differing levels of interest. The partnership worked well, and Winchester is keen to run as a test-bed for the project, exchanging knowledge and practices. 


Through increasing their own digital literacy, ODHE members will be able to influence the embedding of DLs within their own institutions. A particular impact that we can envisage is on those leading IT and information change. Just as OD staff are often unfamiliar with DL, so DL staff are unfamiliar with OD. ODHE will be able to feed its understanding of change processes into its exchanges with other sector bodies and professional associations and – via the JISC critical friends – into the main projects.

Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes

The ODHE will affect the practice of its own members: by engaging with a reference group of interested colleagues; by sharing the lessons from this and earlier projects; by keeping the topic on the agenda of meetings; by gathering examples of effective practice to cascade through institutions; by running DL sessions to build capacity, and by making more regular use of online methods such as web-conferencing, and the creation of an ODHE blog.

Whilst creating this material, and drawing upon work that Dr Bex Lewis is undertaking on FASTECH, a ‘toolbox’ of digital tools, aligned with the ‘problems’ that they solve.

Project Staff

Project Manager

Meriel Box
Head of Staff Development
Liverpool John Moores University

Project Team

Dr Bex Lewis
Technology Enhanced Learning Fellow
University of Winchester

Jean Harrison
Assistant HR Director (HRD)

Start date
1 November 2011
End date
31 December 2013
Funding programme
e-Learning programme
Developing digital literacies
Project website
Lead institutions
Organisational Development in HE Group