A national study of leadership for online learning in US higher education
Concurrent Session 6
As institutions have evolved with online learning, Presidents and Provosts have established a leadership position to guide their efforts in this area. But what do we know about the leaders who are managing this academic transformation? This systematic study, a first of its kind, will shed light on that leadership.
To say that online learning is important for colleges and universities would be quite an understatement. Yet, for such a vital endeavor, there has been a deficiency of research and analysis about the executives that are on point. Contributing to this vacuum is the lack of a comprehensive list of these leaders, combined with the fact that this is a new senior role at many colleges and universities. This study began with addressing this issue with the systematic identification of these leaders. Over the summer of 2016, this study investigated 1,000+ institutions, reached out to 816 individuals and yielded 255 responses (31% response rate).
We hypothesized that the context of their institution was relevant so we collected data about Carnegie classification, public/private, scope of their online learning initiatives, strategic goals for online learning, when their leadership position was created, whether their online learning effort was a catalyst for organizational changes, the role of external service providers, and their institutional priorities.
We then gathered data about the professional experience of individuals including years in this position, faculty appointment, and did they have any traditional face to face teaching experience, online teaching experience, management experience, instructional design experience, educational research experience, and/or any IT experience.
Finally, we captured demographic data about the individuals as well as other information about their reporting relationships, years of experience in higher education, academic credentials, and any personal experience as an online student. With regard to their professional development we asked about the associations they belong to, what events they attend, and their preferences and efforts to stay current in the field.