Leadership Factors Associated With eLearning Adoption In Higher Education: What do We Know so Far? Where Should the Research Go from Here?

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In this Graduate Student Discovery Session Presentation, Jason will summarize his potential PhD research questions regarding eLearning leadership in higher education, what is known from the current literature, and welcome scholarly discourse from the attendees.


Jason is a Ph.D. student in Education and the Director of Teaching and Learning for the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky. He has 13+ years of experience utilizing creative technology to increase student learning and engagement. His experience in instructional design and technology implementation is through creating 20+ unique educational courses to instruct junior high, high school, university and adult learners. This experience serves as the foundation for his continual development around him of instructors, curriculum, and online course delivery. He also currently serves on a Universal Design task force and helps UK evaluate software platforms as needed. Jason earned both an M.Div and M.Ed in Educational Technology which guides his continued quest to discover how to best leverage today’s technology to drive student success.

Extended Abstract

More than any other time it seems that higher education is faced with incredible change, upheaval, challenge, and opportunity. One movement that seems to encompass all of these is the development of online education. With the development of stronger IT infrastructures and faster internet speeds, eLearning is becoming nearly ubiquitous in colleges and universities. However, with the rapid innovation and shifting to online delivery of education, what do we know about the leadership of eLearning?

As a Graduate Student Discovery Session Presentation, Jason will first summarize what is known from the current literature on eLearning leadership. He will build language around titles used for eLearning leaders and the process of incorporating eLearning into higher educational institutions. Some agreement exists among the literature on eLearning leadership factors, but also some conflicting ideas.

For instance, a recent study by Singh and Hardaker  (2017) showed that more personal communication, personal contact, and support from local management helped to positively influence e-learning adoptions and diffusion. Similarly, Burnette found that eLearning leaders “work to build relationships, build credibility and trust, find common ground, use data to drive change, and empower faculty” (2015, p. 13). Although other research seems to suggest that formal relationships and structured leadership were stronger predictors of eLearning innovation (Zhu, 2015).  Angolia and Pagliari (2016) used a metadata analysis and focused on infrastructure factors, faculty attitudes, and students’ role and impact on the success of eLearning. Another study focused on defining eLearning leaders by their professional experience and background (Fredericksen, 2017).

This presentation will be considered a “work in progress” as Jason is just entering his second year of PhD coursework and developing his research questions. As such, following the presentation portion, Jason seeks any helpful feedback as he proceeds. This scholarly discourse will be guided by the following questions:

  • What specific research gaps exist in regards to eLearning leadership in higher education?

  • What other literature should be considered in this study?

  • What are the best means of measuring eLearning diffusion and adoption in a College or University?

  • What innovation or organizational theories should be used to frame this research?

Please join Jason in this presentation and conversation regarding the future of leadership in eLearning.


Faculty Sponsor:

Jayson Richardson, PhD

Associate Professor

Department of Educational Leadership Studies

111 Dickey Hall, University of Kentucky





Angolia, M. G., & Pagliari, L. R. (2016). Factors for Successful Evolution and Sustainability of Quality Distance Education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 19(3), n3.

Burnette, D. M. (2015). NEGOTIATING THE MINEFIELD: Strategies for Effective Online Education Administrative Leadership in Higher Education Institutions. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 16(3), 13-25.

Fredericksen, E. E. (2017). A national study of online learning leaders in US higher education. Online Learning, 21(2). doi: 10.24059/olj.v21i2.1164

Singh, G., & Hardaker, G. (2017). Change levers for unifying top-down and bottom-up approaches to the adoption and diffusion of e-learning in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 22(6), 736-748.

Zhu, C. (2015). Organisational Culture and Technology-Enhanced Innovation in Higher Education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24(1), 65-79.