Help! I'm Stuck! When Your Big Initiative Stalls

Pre-conference Workshop Session 4
Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Help! I’m Stuck! When Your Big Initiative Stalls brings together peers, collaborators, and friends from the IELOL network and beyond. Optimizing the use of personal learning networks, the workshop introduces proven change management and problem-solving frameworks and assists participants in planning thoughtful, strategic solutions when a leadership project/initiative stalls. 


Amanda Major, Ed.D., CPLP, PMP enjoys contributing to instructional design initiatives and leading projects to enhance online higher education. Dr. Major has experience delivering results in a variety of learner-focused and client-oriented environments. Prior to arriving at UCF as an instructional designer Amanda taught online courses, oversaw online program management, participated in strategic planning efforts, developed policies, offered instructional design assistance, and improved business processes to contribute to quality online programs at a large, public, research-intensive University. Actively contributing to the field of online learning, she has presented at national and international conferences and has peer-reviewed publications about organizational development, as well as e-learning operations and projects in higher education. Dr. Major holds a Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institution (PMI) and a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance certification from the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Additionally, she has earned certifications from the Online Learning Consortium and Quality Matters focused specifically on online learning in higher education. Her academic credentials include an Ed.D. in educational leadership, policy and law; an M.A. in industrial organizational psychology; and a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in social psychological issues.
Dr. Bouchey is Associate Professor and Dean of Online Education at National Louis University where she is responsible for standards of quality and service for online programming across the institution. Dr. Bouchey has had the opportunity to lead all aspects of an online campus and programming in her career and spends time each week in deep dialog with an engaged personal learning network discussing the evolving nature of online education. Dr. Bouchey holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University at Albany, an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University. She is a co-founder of the CORAL Research collaborative focused on online leadership and scholarship; her personal research interests include the nature and future of organizational structures of online units in institutions of higher education, as well as inventive and high-impact pedagogical practice in online teaching. Dr. Bouchey writes and is widely quoted in the academic and popular press; her articles and curriculum vitae can be accessed here:
Megan Kohler is a Learning Designer with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. She has presented at international conferences, such as Open Ed 2010 in Barcelona, Spain, the International Conference on Arts and Humanities in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Online Learning Consortium in Orlando, Florida. Megan relies on her training and experience as a professional actor to create a fun and engaging experience within her presentations and design work. Among her professional accomplishments, she is recognized for her work as the lead instructional designer and project manager on Penn State’s highly-rated Epidemics MOOC. She conceptualized the MOOCs by Design Webinar series and served as the pedagogical lead for the Penn State Digital Badges Initiative. She continues to explore interesting opportunities focused on improving the online learning experience for higher education.
Dr. Moore is currently the Director of the Research Academy for Integrated Learning (RAIL) at University of DC. He also serves as an adjunct Assistant Professor Temple University’s Teaching in Higher Education Certificate program in the College of Education. He has a Doctorate of Education in Urban Education from Temple University and a Masters of Arts from The Ohio State University in Higher Education Administration. His dissertation investigated how exemplary college faculty employ Universal Design for Learning principles in their teaching practices. Carl has been teaching for over 12 years and has created and instructed a variety of courses in education at Temple, Cabrini College, and Arcadia University in both face-to-face and online formats. He also frequently an invited speaker and consultant on inclusion, leadership, and teaching and learning related topics. Prior to his current role, Carl was the Assistant Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at Temple University. He also served in a number of student services roles that focused on providing individual and institutional support to retain and advance learner success. These roles include: at the Community College of Philadelphia, Director of Student Success Initiatives; at Temple, Associate Director of Fox Advising, Assistant Director of Multicultural Education; at Kutztown University, Upward Bound TRIO Program Director. As a self-described social justice advocate and "techie," the sum Carl’s passion lies in the development of programs on teaching with technology and inclusion in higher education."

Additional Authors

Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Ciabocchi currently serves as associate provost for academic affairs at Adelphi University. In this role, she oversees all curricular offerings, working closely with each of the University’s deans, faculty and administrative offices to implement, manage and revise the curriculum, including interdisciplinary offerings. She also serves as the primary Adelphi University liaison with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the New York State Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education. With more than 25 years of experience in higher education, Liz most recently served as vice provost for digital learning and executive director of online learning and services at St. John’s University, where she led academic initiatives to develop digital learning strategies for programs offered in fully online and hybrid formats. Prior to her time at St. John’s, she served in various roles at Long Island University, such as associate vice president for online learning, and also in areas including instructional technology, academic planning and academic affairs. She previously worked at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and the New York College of Health Professions. Author of two book chapters, Liz has published peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented her research on leadership and e-learning in higher education and other topics at dozens of conferences. Her teaching experience includes graduate-level courses in St. John’s University’s School of Education and undergraduate courses and graduate thesis supervision at the New York College of Health Professions. She has been extensively involved in committees and evaluation teams for Middle States reaccreditation and has held board and committee positions with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), which named her a fellow in 2015. Liz earned her EdD in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from New York Chiropractic College; and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Scranton. She holds certifications from the OLC in Online Teaching and Leadership in Online Learning.
J. Garvey Pyke, Ed.D., is the Director of the the Center for Teaching at UNC Charlotte. His work involves fueling the enrollment growth at the university through online course development, creating high impact student success programs using personalized and adaptive learning, promoting faculty success and scholarly teaching through innovative faculty development programs, and overseeing the provision and support of enterprise academic technologies. Garvey is also an alumnus of OLC's IELOL program (2010) and has remained an active member of this professional community of practice and served as co-director of IELOL 2018 and as a faculty member of IELOL from 2019 - 2021. He has served on various conference committees for OLC Accelerate and has served on the Steering Committee for OLC Innovate.
Jason Rhode, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Instructional Technology and Executive Director of Extended Learning at Northern Illinois University (NIU). In his role he serves as chief online learning officer, oversees NIU's Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center, and provides strategic leadership and long-range vision for development and delivery of academic credit-bearing online and off-campus courses and programs.

Extended Abstract

Whether standing up an initiative, guiding an organizational change, retooling, launching an online program, or creating a digital learning project of any type, those charged with guiding projects face an ever-complex organizational landscape requiring them to work with leaders at all levels in their institutions. This type of highly complex working environment calls for careful and conscious leadership. Alumni from OLC’s Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) are among the leaders in our higher education institutions paving the way to the maturity and ever-innovative nature of online education, and as such can benefit from maintaining their built-in personal learning network they cultivated during their program experience, and are perhaps too busy to cultivate throughout the year. Other emerging, mid-career, or seasoned leaders, too, have impetus to transform their online education environment in a meaningful, impactful method. 

Participants will have an opportunity to identify a challenge or possible innovation they are currently embarking upon at their institutions, map it to the Managing Change Model framework to identify areas of focus, and then work directly with peers on solution engineering or innovating. Considerations for instituting a project or change will involve choosing an approach based on context, climate, and culture of the set of activities to be implemented in a strategic, successful, integrated method. Audience members will leave this highly interactive workshop with a reinvigorated plan for project success, as well as a renewed sense of belonging to a large and helpful personal learning network that can be leveraged throughout the year as project success ebbs and flows. 

This session utilizes the Managing Complex Change Model developed by Dr. Mary Lippett (1987).  This helpful framework provides a platform for problem ideation and helps to pinpoint gaps in successful change projects for solution creation by focusing on five key focus areas:

  1. Vision

  2. Skills

  3. Incentives

  4. Resources

  5. Action Plan

This framework allows us to assess multiple dimensions in project management through a powerful and easy-to-grasp diagnostic tool.  By selecting a project and focusing on its current or desired outcomes through this change model framework, participants will continue to discover creative ways to facilitate valuable impact for their institutions. 

To fine-tune change strategies through project implementation, integrating key expertise will need consideration. Considerations should include focusing on the people side of the project to source those willing to contribute to the activities and to build a guiding coalition for the efforts (Kotter, 2012), partly achieved by participants’ opportunity to build informal professional learning networks external to their higher education institution to shape their own professional journeys during this workshop. Additionally, considerations of how the people side of any change effort integrates with managing communications, ensuring quality, and adjusting the set of activities planned are key to managing a defined set of activities (PMI, 2017). This should result in creating champions (Rogers, 2003) and success stories to intentionally showcase short term wins (Kotter, 2012). To maintain the momentum of success for achieving the larger vision, continued dedication is necessary to initiate the next set of activities within a change effort (Kotter, 2012). Exploring and honing in on the gaps and next steps to achieve the vision for a strategic, successful, sustainable solutions or innovations through a network of peers would serve to strengthen transformative, conscious leadership capacities.

For continuing to strengthen leadership capacities, participants may be interested in other opportunities to stay connected to the IELOL community. Perhaps a series of problem-solving and fellowship workshops in-person at OLC Conferences, for example, or sessions hosted quarterly through Zoom would enable formal methods to network and engage with other leaders. Participants could also determine other ways to continue their efforts from this session with their group members to further give and receive professional advice and support. Leveraging leaders’ experiences, recent research, or optimizing the utility of personal learning networks, these opportunities for the IELOL community to stay connected, could serve as a platform for a much larger change initiative in online education through creating nationwide networks facing similar challenges, solving them communally, and in doing so, raising the profile and potential transformative impact of online education in the process. 

The Help! I’m Stuck! When Your Big Initiative Stalls is a workshop facilitating a fast-paced think-tank of peers, collaborators, and friends from the extensive IELOL program and beyond. This workshop aligns proven change management and problem solving frameworks with practice as well as a network of leaders assisting each other in planning a thoughtful and strategic path forward when challenges or opportunities arise in their higher education workplaces.   

Participants will: 

  1. Explore a problem or challenge they are currently experiencing, 

  2. Utilize the Managing Complex Change model to pinpoint areas of focus, 

  3. Solicit ideas from peers and devise a strategic or tactical plan to overcome the problem or challenge, 

  4. Walk away with different perspectives to solving their project dilemmas or innovate.

  5. Gain a renewed sense of purpose for their project success.

  6. Create, cultivate, and sustain a personal learning network to remain in contact throughout the year for productive conversations and ongoing problem-solving.  


  • Participants will work through a quick assessment to identify affinity groups.

  • Participants will reflect on and document a challenge or problem they are currently facing in their institution

  • Participants will map the challenge or problem to the Managing Complex Change matrix to quickly identify the gaps that need focus

  • Presenters will frame up the challenges to act as prompts to activate thinking around the leadership challenges each attendee may be facing; participants will then be put into affinity groups by project topic area, institution type, or other criteria (small groups of 6-8 each).  

  • Time allotment: 

    • 10 minutes of completing the opening assessment 

    • 5 minutes of framing of the issues and the task demand(s) (e.g., table conversations) that will follow

    • 55 minutes of semi-structured conversation with multiple pivot points/prompts (breakdown:)

      • 20 mins to describe projects at table 

      • 5 mins to review Managing Complex Change grid handout

      • 30 minutes to describe small case studies as prompts to refocus and drive the conversations around solutions 

    • 15 minutes for share out with prompts to further push analysis on problem/project management

    • 5-min wrap up to exchange contact info if desired and suggest possibilities to continue your new PLN 


Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading change. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review Press.

Lippitt, M., (1987).The managing complex change model.

Project Management Institute (2017). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK, 6th ed.).

Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). Simon and Schuster.