Innovative digital learning is the “new norm”: reassessing the relationship between organisational learning and the learning organisation


Guest Editors

Dr Gavin Baxter

University of the West of Scotland

School of Computing, Engineering & Physical Sciences

High Street

Paisley, UK


[email protected]

Dr Thomas Hainey

University of the West of Scotland

School of Computing, Engineering & Physical Sciences

High Street

Paisley, UK


[email protected]

Dr Shih-wei Hsu

Nottingham University Business School China,

199 Taikang East Road,

University of Nottingham

Nignbo, China

[email protected]

Background to Special Issue

The onset of Covid-19 has redefined the way in which organisations function and how employees have had to modify their working practices. One organisational sector that has had to reassess its working routines is the area of education. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, pedagogical buzzwords such as blended learning, synchronous and asynchronous online provision as well as hybrid delivery have become predominant.

The sudden shift to remote teaching and learning initially caught some educational institutions off balance (Daniel, 2020). Challenges currently facing educators and academic institutions is the dilemma of providing student-centred, innovative, and flexible remote learning in tandem with maintaining the student experience (Dhawan, 2020). Online delivery via communication mediums such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams has meant that academic institutions have almost become virtual organisations. Advances in technology such as smart phones, tablets and laptops has enhanced the ubiquitous and varied methods in which organisations and their members communicate.

For many organisations, learning and adapting from the experiences of Covid-19 has meant that the concepts of organisational learning, the learning organisation and organisational behaviour have become even more prominent. Organisations have had to reassess their business models during Covid-19, reflect upon their successes and failures and undergo a period of experimentation with a view to enhancing their organisational procedures. Remote working for many employees has meant that they have had to embrace the functionalistic and interpretivist perceptions of organisational learning. The functionalistic outlook posits that learning commences with the organisational member who learns as a representative for the organisation (Simon, 1991). The interpretivist perspective of organisational learning, the view that learning in organisations is a social process, has also taken on an added new emphasis via the digitisation of working, learning, and sharing knowledge remotely.

Furthermore, it can be argued that the aspects of knowledge sharing, converting tacit knowledge into explicit, has also gained greater prominence through increased digital knowledge sharing (Tonnessen et al., 2021) because of the pandemic. Organisations, such as academic institutions, through the utilisation of digital technology such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams has become digital “networks of conversation” (Isaacs, 1993). Academic institutions have had to interchange between both perspectives of organisational learning, whilst sharing aspects of new learning and knowledge via the shift from traditional to remote online learning. Shared knowledge and repertoire digitally between colleagues and their organisations can be achieved through collective communities of practice (Wenger, 1999).

Shifting and adapting to new models of educational delivery (e.g., the hybrid model) means that many academic institutions have had to culturally adapt. Through the process of organisational memory (Walsh and Ungson, 1991) academic institutions have had to ensure that they continue to learn and modify their organisational practices to respond to emergency scenarios.

Special issue aims and scope

The aim of this special issue is to provide an empirical insight into how educational institutions, during the context of Covid-19, have through the adjustment of their organisational behaviour, undertaken the process of organisational learning to become learning organisations. The special issue focuses upon research that illustrates the approaches that demonstrate organisational learning indicating novel educational delivery approaches conforming to new educational models of delivery, ways in which innovative methods of educational practice have been implemented and how they have been retained and incorporated into the academic institution concerned. The special issue invites research papers that are qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods in research design that empirically denote educational practices, during the pandemic, that exemplify approaches towards supporting organisational learning and maintaining learning organisation status. Examples of this include novel teaching and learning practices using immersive technologies, utilisation of virtual learning environments for learning and knowledge sharing and evidence of sharing educational practice across academic institutions. Papers must indicate how the study illustrates that organisational learning has occurred in addition to how the learning organisation status has been initiated or sustained.

Themes for the special issue include but are not limited to:

  • Assessing the role of the virtual organisation and its affiliation towards organisational learning in the context of Covid-19.
  • Innovative approaches towards teaching and learning during the pandemic from either a functionalist or interpretivist organisational learning perspective.
  • Empirical evaluation of changes in institutional pedagogical frameworks or models (e.g., face-to-face to hybrid delivery) denoting that learning organisation status has been achieved.
  • Adoption of immersive technologies (e.g., virtual reality, serious games, games-based learning) and their impact towards remote educational delivery supporting student engagement, motivation and tacit knowledge sharing in the learning process.
  • The impact of Covid-19 upon educational policy and decision-making exemplifying ways in which institutions have had to modify their functional approaches towards how they learn and continue to adapt and evolve in the context of educational delivery.
  • Empirically assessing the increased importance of the interpretivist perspective of organisational learning viewing academic institutions as learning entities (e.g., social communities of practice).
  • Research studies focusing upon organisational behaviour and the adoption towards new educational delivery models and the institution’s learning experience.
  • Empirical studies surrounding whether organisational learning can be supported through online communication mediums such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
  • Conceptual generic frameworks or models from empirical research detailing how to facilitate and support organisational learning within academic institutions in the context of remote teaching and learning.
  • Theoretical viewpoints stating how academic institutions can achieve learning organisation status in the post-Covid era modifying their functional routines in relation to staff home working.

Relevancy of special issue

This special issue will be of significance to academic practitioners and policy makers within academic institutions allowing them to reflect upon academic practice from an organisational learning standpoint. Furthermore, the salient aim of this call for papers is to provide a sense of a revised perspective in revisiting the concepts of organisational learning, the learning organisation and organisational behaviour in the age of digitised educational delivery in the context of Covid-19 and beyond. Educators can consider upon how organisational learning has impacted upon best practice, lessons learnt from educational delivery approaches during Covid-19 and how to facilitate organisational learning within their respective educational delivery models. The special issue will also be of relevance to educational policy makers in indicating on how to achieve learning organisation status in relation to modifying their organisational infrastructure and working practices post Covid-19.

Submission Process and dates

Authors are invited to discuss their ideas or proposals with the guest editors prior to their submission to the ScholarOne system. Authors should follow the “Author Guidelines” ( and review the document “Making Your Manuscript Relevant for TLO (” Submissions should explicitly engage with “learning at an aggregated level” and concepts relating to the “learning organisation” or “organisational learning.”

31st January 2022 – start date for submission of paper on ScholarOne system

30th April 2022 – end date for submission of paper on ScholarOne system.

29th July 2022 – first round of peer review and paper feedback.

30th November 2022 – second round of peer review and paper feedback.

29th January 2023 – third round for final submission of paper revisions for peer review.

Issue 5 of 2023 – publication of special issue.


Daniel, J. (2020), “Education and the Covid-19 pandemic”, Prospects, Vol. 49, pp. 91-96.

Dhawan, S. (2020), “Online learning: a panacea in the time of COVID-19 crisis”, Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 49 No. 1, pp. 5-22.

Isaacs, W.N. (1993), “Taking flight: dialogue, collective thinking, and organizational learning”, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 24-39.

Tønnessen, Ø., Dhir, A. and Flaten, B.T. (2021), “Digital knowledge sharing and creative performance: work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic”, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Vol. 170, pp. 1-13.

Simon, H. A. (1991), “Bounded rationality and organizational learning”, Organization Science, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 125-134.

Walsh, J.P. and Ungson, G.R. (1991), “Organizational memory”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 57-91.

Wenger, E. (1999), Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.