Leading Change in Online Learning

Game Changers in Online Learning for the State of Iowa

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University of Northern Iowa Graduate Program for Instructional Technology

Through the University of Northern Iowa, we are gaining our graduate degree via online learning. This semester we are taking a class called "Leading Change Through Instructional Technology" with Dr. Leigh Zeitz. The course was designed to prepare us to be "change agents" in our schools. To develop insight into the change process and learn how to facilitate the process of change, our semester project was to interview two people who are change agents for innovation and technology in Iowa classrooms and to report our findings. Because we believe in the power of online learning, we wanted to choose people to interview who are also passionate about online education. We chose to focus on Iowa's own AEA PD Online program and two employees who believe in the change that online education can bring to Iowa.

Leading up to this project, we studied and discussed a variety of literature on the change process. Many of the readings are listed below. These helped us develop knowledge of the change process, and by comparing and contrasting some of the readings we were able to create our own categories of an effective change process. These lead to our interview, as they became the basis for our questions, as well the standards by which we evaluated the change process of the AEA PD Online program.

The Readings, Our Connections, and the Interview Questions

The following videos discuss seven characteristics of the change process that we uncovered by comparing and contrasting three of the main readings from class: Fullan, Ely, and Levin and Schrum. The videos include our connections between the readings and how those helped us to form our interview questions to examine an organization in the midst of a change process.
Focus and Vision 2
Learning and Support
Funding and Resource Acquisition

Zoom Room

Through the use of Zoom.us online conferencing, we were able to interview Evan and Denise completely online. The Zoom platform allowed us to view each other while asking and answering questions. Screen sharing was also utilized. Although Zoom allows you to record your online meetings, one challenge was that we were unable to get recordings of either interview due to technical difficulties. We will be summarizing our interviews below.

Meet Our "Change Agent" Interviewees

Iowa AEA PD Online


The AEA PD Online site is run by a team of dedicated professionals, from the Iowa Area Education Agency, who are instructional designers. The program is funded through the different Iowa regional area education agencies. They are a small team of 7, led by Evan Abbey, who is the program manager. This team creates online courses, modules, and professional development opportunities. If you are an Iowa teacher and have taken a class for mandatory reporting or blood borne pathogens through the AEA, this team of individuals made that possible.

Not only are they a strong presence for online professional development for teachers, they are now helping schools launch online education opportunities. The team designs courses and works with school districts design courses as well through the Moodle learning management system. They are connecting more and more schools so that students have broader opportunities for learning.

For this interview we chose Evan and Denise, an instructional designer. Both are passionate online educators and advocates for online teaching and learning. Below is their information and a summary of our interviews.

Evan Abbey

Program Manager of AEA PD Online.

Denise Krefting

Instructional Designer for AEA PD Online

The Conversations

Our interviewing format was very informal. Although we had a list of specific questions we wanted to ask, the interviews were more conversational in style. Both Evan and Denise had a lot to offer unaided by our questions. A strength of this interview project is that we chose people who are very talented and dedicated in their field, who are also willing to share their passion of online learning. Click on each button below to reveal the summary of our conversations, organized by category.
Focus and Vision

Learning should be the constant. Time, place, pace should be the variable. Right now, it's the opposite.

Learning and Support

Online learning provides students with voice, choice and opportunities to engage in rigorous learning.


Change is difficult. Online learning meets resistance from traditionalists.


Excitement is contagious. If you aren’t excited, no one else will be.


A leader sparks change and has to keep it going to inspire the most people possible.


Schools should really think through their funding for technology and curriculum first and foremost.


Nothing is non essential at this point. All work is something a district needs.

Concluding Remarks

What we learned about Evan, Denise, and Iowa AEA PD Online is that change is not something that happens overnight. You have to have a need, passionate people willing to change the status quo, and persistence to keep the change moving.

It can be frustrating when change doesn't happen as fast as we'd like. However, small victories should be celebrated and used to ignite further change. Leadership that provides continued motivation and excitement for the possibilities is essential to success.

Passionate, driven people are required in order to achieve change.