Len-Ole Schäfer

Dr. Len-Ole Schäfer Photo: Hardy Welsch

Dr. Len-Ole Schäfer

Lead of the project ORC

Email: len-ole.schaefer

FernUniversität in Hagen
Universitätsstr. 27 - PRG / Building 5 / Room A129
58097 Hagen

What is my role within CATALPA?

As a sociologist and higher education researcher, I am leading the project „Organizational Resilience and Creativity: Exploring the Future of Educational Technology in Higher Education“ (ORC), a cooperation project of CATALPA and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG). We investigate the relationship between organisational resilience, creativity and educational technologies. We look at the organizational change of universities.


The research center CATALPA offers excellent conditions to pursue my research. I appreciate the trustful, interdisciplinary collaboration, the freedom and potential to conduct groundbreaking, pioneering and brilliant research. Through my research, I will gain fundamental insights into how higher education organizations, resilience, creativity and educational technologies are interrelated.

    • Postdoc in the research center CATALPA at the FernUniversität in Hagen (2019 - ).
    • PhD in Sociology on the impact of the Research Excellence Framework on academic practice in the UK (2018).
    • Research associate at the senior professorship for social theory and comparative macrosociology at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany (2018)
    • Visiting Scholar at University College London (UCL), Institute of Education, ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education (2016).
    • Research Assistant at the Chair of Sociology esp. Sociological Theory at the University of Bamberg (2012 - 2018).
    • Diploma in Sociology (2012) on the construction of rankings in science
  • I am passionate about higher education research and particularly interested in the organizational conditions of creativity and the relationship between organisational resilience and educational technologies at higher education institutions. Topics that spark my interest are sociological theory, sociological methods, organizational sociology and educational technologies.

  • 2023


    • Deacon, B., Laufer, M., & Schäfer, L. O. (2023). Infusing Educational Technologiesin the Heart of the University - A Systematic Literature Review from an Organisational Perspective. British Journal of Educational Technology, 54(2), 441–466. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.13277


    • Laufer, M., Kuper, F., Mende, M., Schäfer, L. O., & Tschache, T. (2023, April). How to Organize Edtech at the University: A Practitioner’s Field Guide for Implementing Edtech. University:Future Festival Heads Up!
    • Laufer, M., Schäfer, L. O., Kuper, F., & Deacon, B. (2023, Juli). The intersection of resilience, creativity and edtech: A conceptual framework for universities. 39th EGOS Colloquium: Organizing for the Good Life: Between Legacy and Imagination. Sub-theme 67: Resilient Individuals, Organizations, and Societies:Blenders of Legacy and Imagination. https://www.egos.org/jart/prj3/egos/main.jart?rel=de&reserve-mode=active&content-id=1658501434997&subtheme_id=1637466415521&show_prog=yes
    • Schäfer, L. O., Deacon, B., & Laufer, M. (in press 2023). Die Rolle der Digitalisierungsstrategie bei der Implementierung und dem Erhalt digitaler Lehre. Digitale Kulturen der Lehre entwickeln. https://dikule-symposium.de/

    Other Publications

    • Laufer, M., Kuper, F., Mende, M. A., Schäfer, L. O., & Tschache, T. (2023). Organizing Digital Change at the University. The Practitioners’ Field Guide for Implementing Educational Technology. In HIIG Impact Publication Series. https://graphite.page/fieldguide-edtech/



    • Elsholz, U., Schäfer, L. O., & Huynh, H. N. (2022). Kompetenzsensible Studiengestaltung als mehrdimensionale Herausforderung. die hochschule journal für wissenschaft und bildung, 31(1-2), 82–93. https://www.hof.uni-halle.de/journal/dhs222.htm
    • Timm, M., Deacon, B., Laufer, M., Schäfer, L. O., & Tschache, T. (2022). Atomisierung, Innovation und Organisation: Qualität der Lehre im ersten Digitalsemester. die hochschullehre, 8(1), 395–408.


    • Laufer, M., Deacon, B., & Schäfer, L. O. (2022, September). Leadership in DigitalChange: An exploration of organizational trust and innovation in universities.EAIR Forum 2022: Accelerating the Future of Higher Education. https://www.eairweb.org/
    • Laufer, M., Schäfer, L. O., & Deacon, B. (2022). Resisting Digital Change: Is it a BadThing?: An exploration into why university staff resist digital teaching. SRHEConference 2022, Mobilities in Higher Education.
    • Schäfer, L. O., Deacon, B., & Laufer, M. (2022, July). Organizational conditions and dynamics of digital teaching. Academic Practice and Technology (APT):Shaping Academic Practice Through Diversity and Flexibility. Parallel Sessions2. https://reflect.ucl.ac.uk/aptconference/presentations-papers-archive/conference-2022-video/

    Chapters in Edited Books

    • Laufer, M., Deacon, B., & Schäfer, L. O. (2022). The Power of Informal Networks.How middle management, central leadership and trust can impact innovation at the university. In F. W. Hesse, C. Kobsda, & C. Schemmann (Eds.), Digital Transformation of Higher Education - Global Learning Report 2022. Global Learning Council (GLC). https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21241/ssoar.73580

    Web Documents



    • Elsholz, U., Fecher, B., Deacon, B., Schäfer, L. O., & Laufer, M. (2021). Implikationen der Covid-19-Pandemie für digitale Lehre: Organisierte Freiheitals Veränderungsparadigma. MedienPädagogik: Zeitschrift für Theorie und Praxis der Medienbildung, 40, 472–486. https://doi.org/10.21240/mpaed/40/2021.11.29.X


    • Deacon, B., Schäfer, L. O., & Laufer, M. (2021a, March). The Rapid Digital Turn: AnExploration into the Tight and Loose Coupling of University Structures. Understanding Digital Transformations of Higher Education Teaching and Learning in the Nordics and Beyond. Universities of Agder (Norway), Aarhus(Denmark) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden). https://cedit.uia.no/understanding-digital-transformations-of-higher-education-teaching-and-learning-in-the-nordics-and-beyond-call-for-papers/
    • Deacon, B., Schäfer, L. O., & Laufer, M. (2021b, September). The Rapid DigitalTurn: An Exploration into the Tight and Loose Coupling of UniversityStructures. 43rd Annual EAIR Forum 2021: Transformation Fast and Slow: Quality, Trust and Digitalisation in Higher Education.https://www.eairweb.org/forum-berlin-2021
    • Deacon, B., Schäfer, L. O., Timm, M., & Laufer, M. (2021, September). Enge und lose Kopplungen in der Hochschule – Die COVID-19 Pandemie und digitale Lehre. Soziologische Betrachtungen zur Digitalisierung der Lehre (in derCOVID-19-Pandemie). DIPF – Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsforschung undBildungsinformation. https://www.dipf.de/de
    • Thorbrügge, C., Desel, J., & Schäfer, L. O. (2021, September). Studienverkürzung durch Anerkennung von Kompetenzen. Eine Interviewstudie über Vorqualifikationen von Informatikstudierenden. 9. FachtagungHochschuldidaktik Informatik (HDI) 2021.
    • Timm, M., Deacon, B., Tschache, T., Schäfer, L. O., & Laufer, M. (2021, September). Qualität in der digitalen Lehre: Eine Untersuchung von Einflussfaktoren. Tagung der Gesellschaft für Hochschulforschung. https://www.uni-giessen.de/fbz/fb03/institutefb03/erziehung/abteilungen/hd/gfhf2021

    Web Documents

    • Zhao, F., Schäfer, L. O., van Rijn, L., & Wöhrle, J. (2021). Snails on the chase: Howto cope with anxiety in academic career. Elephant in the Lab. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5574873



    • Laufer, M., Deacon, B., & Schäfer, L. O. (2020, October). Lehren in der Krise, Lernen aus der Krise? Erfolg & Verstetigung digitaler Lehr- und Lerninnovationen. University:Future Festival - Learning, Systems and the NewNormal. Hochschulforum Digitalisierung.https://festival.hfd.digital/de/programm/workshops/