The Change Communication Model: Movement of Change in Education

“Wherever we are, it is but a stage on the way to somewhere else, and whatever we do, however well we do it, it is only a preparation to do something else that shall be different. Such is change in life.”- Robert Louis Stevenson

After reading Ellsworth’s perception of the Change Communication Model, the word that resonated the most was “environment”. The reason is because the educational system is an environment of change. The environment is constantly changing and so are the educational theories. The theories that have been effective have been made better and the theories that were not effective were discarded. The theories mentioned in “Approaches to Change” highlight several models that are directly and indirectly represented in the Change Communication Model.

The Change Communication Model consists of five areas. These areas represent the movement of change. The first stop is referred to as the “sender”. This sender is the catalyst of change. This person is an agent of change. This person is responsible for starting the flame to ignite the fire to get others to move in the same direction. The goal of the sender is to generate ideas and to have the courage to form a message that he/she believes will enhance the environment.

The next step for the sender is to generate a message. This message is meant to represent pure innovation. It is a hypothesis, an idea, and/or a suggestion. A message is the process of being heard. It is the process by which you have a thought and wish to share the thought in hopes it will foster change.

Once the message has been established the sender finds a medium. A medium is someone who is the “go-between” the sender and the receiver. The medium has a responsibility to form a clear channel for the message. In many ways the medium is the person to process the change. He/she must make sure the message is consistent and accurate in its delivery. The purpose of the medium is only to make ends meet.

\Before the message can reach the receiver, it may encounter interference. The purpose of interference is to undermine the medium. The interference is intended to corrupt the message from the sender before it reaches the receiver. Interference is equivalent to anyone who is unwilling to change or who is resistance to change.

Once the message has passed through initial interference, it reaches the receiver. The medium has delivered the message from the sender to the receiver. The purpose of the receiver is to adopt the innovation. He/she must determine the sender’s intention and make the appropriate steps to managing change. Each step is a part of the environment of change.

In the article “Approaches to Change”, it discusses the three generations of approaches to change. The three generations are represented by Chin & Benne (1969), House (1981), and Sashkin & Egermeier (1992).

Chin & Benne begin by discussing the empirical-rational model. This model is correlated with the first step in the Change Communication Model. The empirical model suggests that individuals are rational and typically are self-serving in their goals and aspirations. As an agent of change you must be willing to overlook the possibility that school systems inheritedly possess overly passive faculty members who may not have the time or education to adopt or apply the message of the sender. A sender who believes in ones self and is hoping to reap the benefits of self-interest will use an empirical-rational model to achieve the rewards of change.

Chin & Benne’s power-coercive model is finding change through changing laws. Protest and demonstrations have power. There has always been strength in numbers. In many ways protesting can create a medium by which a channel can be established to make a point through non-violence. It is also a way for politicians (during election years) to establish support by assuming the role of medium. The legislators hope to deliver the message to the appropriate receiver. The politician is seen as the hero and thus gains support from the masses and the masses see their message reach the next level.

Chin & Benne’s normative-re-educate model is similar to empirical-rational model mentioned previously because both are about satisfying needs and interests of the individual. The difference is that in the normative-re-educate model, the values and habits are more personal. The idea behind this model is that most people are creative and capable of great things once the interference is removed. The focus is to improve the problem solving abilities of the current system and encourage growth in the people who are part of the system. This model is equivalent to the receiver having a message that he/she knows will work. It is the important steps hereafter that foster change. The receiver must sell the innovation to the masses. The sender knows that once the resistance to change is defeated, the receiver will have better results.

In House’s technological approach to change, the model recognizes the task at hand. House’s model is about using the present knowledge and incorporating that into a message where the tasks are clearly outlined in a mechanical fashion.
House’s second model is a political approach. This approach is focused on the need for power. Through negotiation tactics, the “powers that be” can use their authority and competing interests to create change.

House’s third model is about community. The purpose of this model is to stress the importance of working together. This is similar to facing interference because it stresses the ability for a message to reach its receiver by using strength in numbers. Communities have the ability to create innovation through support of one another.

There is one thing that all of Sashkin & Egermeir have in their models. Each model has the word “fix” associated with its approach. In their first model (fixing the parts), they focus on innovations that have proven track records. Like House, they also recognize the importance of seeking the aid of political and cultural factors to improve the chance for success.
Sashkin & Egermeir’s second model is about fixing the people. This model is about training and developing skills. This training and development should be directed from the top officials and should have a “trickle-down” motion.

Sashkin & Egermeir’s third model is about fixing the school. This model is about each school system addressing their own needs and fixing their own problems.

It would seem that although all three different generational approaches are similar in many ways, the one that closely resembles the Change Communication Model is Chin & Benne’s written in 1969. The key to any successful change is communication. The environment is everything. The environment is everything mentioned in all of these models. The important factor is for the sender to have his/her message reach the receiver. The person that is the medium has a lot of power. This person can move the message or he/she can allow it to be disrupted. Resistance to change will always be a factor. It was a factor 30 years ago and it will be a factor 30 years from now. To approach change is to be willing to present innovation and to use the resources in the environment to help. In order to be an agent of change, you must be willing to face interference and be willing to find the right medium for your message.

“Everything changes but change itself”- John F. Kennedy

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