Online Collaborative Learning and Leadership Development

Online Collaborative Learning and Leadership Development

Tony W. Day (University of Phoenix, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch215
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Abstract

Learner interactions in the traditional classroom setting fail to develop leadership skills (Felser, 2005). Interactions occur in four ways: 1) between the student and the instructor; 2) collaborative interaction of the students; 3) interactions with the curriculum; and 4) with technology in the online setting (Jung, Choi, Lim, & Leem, 2002). Whether or not these interactions occur effectively can affect the success of the online learning process. Successful interactions facilitate the fostering of advanced learner proficiency in analyzing information and creating innovative means of interpretation. This process augments critical thinking skills that cultivate leadership potential (Billings & Kowalski, 2005).
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Introduction

Learner interactions in the traditional classroom setting fail to develop leadership skills (Felser, 2005). Interactions occur in four ways: 1) between the student and the instructor; 2) collaborative interaction of the students; 3) interactions with the curriculum; and 4) with technology in the online setting (Jung, Choi, Lim, & Leem, 2002). Whether or not these interactions occur effectively can affect the success of the online learning process. Successful interactions facilitate the fostering of advanced learner proficiency in analyzing information and creating innovative means of interpretation. This process augments critical thinking skills that cultivate leadership potential (Billings & Kowalski, 2005).

Many of the pioneers of the Internet and human-computer interaction foresaw the need to employ the Internet as a means of distance education. Just as once the correspondence course represented the meaning of distance education, the Web will become the major source of distance education for the 21st Century. Over 80% of all classrooms and 98% of all libraries in the United States are now linked to the Internet and therefore, the world (Long & Long, 2004).

The next generation of knowledge transfer occurs through a constructivist approach that manages the process through experiential learning, which focuses on collaborative interaction of the learners and reflection on the process in order to develop the desired learning (Beckett, 2001). This approach also develops higher-order thinking skills that are linked to leadership development (Billings & Kowalski, 2005). Since the public community college offers over 90% of all distance-education courses and now represents over 48% of enrollments in distance education across academic institutions (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2004), the institution must align the purpose of distance education and education in general. This alignment, along with adequate student supports offered to facilitate the success of online learners, becomes the focus of understanding for administrators and faculty alike.

Successful collaborative online interactions facilitate the fostering of advanced learner proficiency in analyzing information and creating innovative means of interpretation (Jung et al., 2002; Moore, 1972). This process augments critical thinking skills that cultivate leadership potential (Billings & Kowalski, 2005). When the individual utilizes his or her learning style effectively, a greater level of retention of information is attained (Cohen, 2001). Interaction between online learners builds capacity, which Buck (2003) found increases internal and external leadership skills. Development of leadership skills takes place through the interactions of the online learners who work collaboratively towards a common goal (Chen, 2005). Experience in developing leadership on the part of the faculty member can also increase the capability of the learner to find inspiration in the online learning context (Howell, Saba, Lindsay, & Williams, 2004).

The increase in the use of online educational programming for higher-education coursework (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2004) necessitates the need for examining the online collaborative interactional process as it applies to leadership development. Research into online collaborative learning interactions have highlighted the development of skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, higher retention, capacity, goal setting, interpretation, analysis, and evaluative processes, which are all part of the successful leader’s competencies (Buck, 2003; Burbach, Matkin, & Fritz, 2004; Chen, 2005; Kouzes & Posner, 2002; Risher & Stopper, 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learner-Teacher Interactions: Interactions between the learners and their instructor/facilitator in which the process of learning occurs within the course or activity; for example, lectures online and facilitated newsgroups.

Leadership Development: The process of developing those skills necessary to facilitate the movement of oneself and others through collaborative interaction towards a goal or vision.

Communities of Practice: Collaborative groups who are involved in the process of knowledge management activities.

Knowledge Management: The development and transfer of vital information from one generation of workers to the next.

Leadership: The ability of an individual to influence others through personal characteristics, learned skills, and collaborative interaction. To move others from their current place to that of the organization or administration’s vision and mission.

Asynchronous Communications: Communications that occur between two or more people in which the method of communications of one or more individuals does not occur at the same time as the others involved; for example, e-mail.

Collaborative Learning: Two or more individuals work together to achieve a common learning goal.

Distance Education: Methods for providing instructional means and media, for example, print and electronic communications, to individuals physically separated from the faculty member(s).

Learner-Medium Interactions: Interactions between learners, teachers, and support personnel in relation to the method of communications utilized for the course or activity; for example, Internet, intranet, server system, video or satellite communications.

Learner-Learner Interactions: Interactions between the various members of the learning community and their relation to the course or activity in which each is involved; for example, cohorts, learning teams, collaborative learning community.

Learner-Content Interactions: Interactions that occur between the learner and the content of the course or activity that they are pursuing; for example, textbooks, Web page, and database activities.

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