Insights from the Field: Leadership in Online Learning


Elisabeth Stucklen

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The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators, and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended, and digital learning. This week, Dr. Bettyjo Bouchey, OLC Institute faculty for the Leadership in Online Learning Mastery Series, joins us to answer our questions on leadership development for digital teaching and learning.

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why do you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you teach for OLC?

I choose OLC because I believe it is the premier organization serving online leaders, and it is an honor to participate in this movement. 

I will be teaching the Leadership in Online Learning Mastery Series as a way of continuing to contribute to the emerging nature of online education in institutions of higher education. As one of the most critical growth enablers of colleges and universities in the United States, leaders of online learning need to be equipped with specific functional and leadership capabilities to continue to innovate and provide quality educational opportunities to their students.

OLC: Where do you see leadership development for digital teaching and learning heading in the next 3-5 years?

I believe that online leadership will continue to formalize and normalize on college campuses such that Online Chief Officers (and other titles) will become an essential part of the executive administration. With this more formal integration, online leaders will still need to possess wide, flexible, and authentic leadership skills with the ability to work through complex, multi-level, multi-stakeholder challenges and opportunities.

OLC: Our Institute offerings help professionals stay current in their fields, and often assist in the advancement of their profession. What do you believe are the top three ways in which professionals in the field can stay current and move ahead?

  1. Research. It is critical for us to research and write about what we are finding — pedagogically, as well as operationally. 
  2. Spread the word. Not only do you need a personal learning network, but there are colleagues around you who do as well — find a squad and spread the word about what you are doing far and wide. We are in this together. 
  3. Innovate. Find that intersection between creativity and success and tell EVERYONE about it.

OLC: What current research or projects are you engaged in that relate to leadership for online learning?

From a pedagogical perspective, I have just finished a project with some colleagues looking into how personal learning networks contribute to authentic learning in online programs (awaiting the acceptance of our manuscript), I am engaged in a study looking at the impact of learning analytics for first-generation students in hybridized learning environments, and I am finishing up a book chapter on multimodal instruction with an NSF-funded team looking at the future of STEM education in 2024. Looking at online more broadly, I am engaged in a year-long study into the evolving nature of organizational structures of online units in institutions of higher education across the U.S.

OLC: What was the last book, journal, or article you read that relates to the field? 

I am reading How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories Behind Effective College Teaching by Joshua Eyler.


Dr. Bettyjo Bouchey

Dr. Bettyjo Bouchey is Associate Professor and Associate Dean, College of Professional Studies and Advancement at National Louis University where she also serves as Director of Online Academics for the university. Dr. Bouchey has enjoyed a long history in higher education and online leadership serving in roles at smaller institutions ranging from Vice President of Operations, Provost, and Dean, to her most cherished role as faculty member.

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. Dr. Bouchey is proud OLC member where she is a graduate of the Institute for Emerging Leaders in Online Learning (IELOL), was awarded a Bruce Chaloux Scholarship for Early Career Excellence, and is a co-chair for the IDEA Committee for Innovate 2020. She is also a member of the leadership subcommittee for the National Coalition on Online Education (NCOE, part of UPCEA).  

Dr. Bouchey writes and is widely quoted in the academic and popular press; her articles and curriculum vitae can be accessed on her website at You can also connect with her via Linkedin or Twitter (@DRBouchey).



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