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What is Change Management in Education?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Jan 23, 2024
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Change management in education typically refers to not only the process of making changes in education, but specifically how those changes will take effect and be managed. While this can refer to many different things, and will likely continue to mean different things as education changes in the future, it often refers to technological changes or changes in teaching practices. These changes typically cannot happen overnight, and so some direction must usually be established to facilitate this change and ensure it happens in the smoothest way possible. Change management in education describes this effort to make sure that as change occurs it does not disrupt the process of education for students or teachers.

One of the easiest ways to understand change management in education is to first consider change management as a concept. In general, change management is the process of overseeing any major change in a system to ensure the process occurs as easily and quickly as possible. This can include managing human resources to ensure people understand how the change is occurring, establishing how the change will occur and creating criteria for evaluating the change, and ultimately putting these concepts into practice. As a term, it can typically refer to any process of change. Change management in education simply refers to this process as it applies to any system of education.

In public education, change management usually refers to implementing and evaluating changing policies established by governments or other supervisory educational institutions. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program established in the US in the early years of the 21st century is one process in which this type of work can be seen. Proper change management was necessary to ensure that teachers and staff were able to properly understand the changes made by NCLB and implement those changes. By utilizing change management in education, this process was able to occur fairly smoothly and various methods for analysis of these changes were put into place to later judge the merits of the changes.

Change management in education can also be utilized for higher education, and often deals with changes in technology or teaching methods. For example, if a college or university were to focus more heavily on “E-learning” and eliminate most of its classrooms, then this process would need to be properly managed. This would not only include the actual execution of such a change, but ensuring that teachers understood how to work within the changing system and helping students learn with the assistance of new technology. Similar change management would likely be necessary if a university decided to encourage teachers to become more passive in education and serve primarily as facilitators, rather than a traditional method that had been utilized at the school.

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