Developing Educational Leadership in Graduate Students through Cross-Program Collaboration in a 3-D Immersive Environment

Developing Educational Leadership in Graduate Students through Cross-Program Collaboration in a 3-D Immersive Environment

Barbara Howard (Appalachian State University, USA), Nita J. Matzen (Appalachian State University, USA) and John H. Tashner (Appalachian State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-517-9.ch005
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Educational leadership is no longer considered the exclusive realm of the principal but extends to all educators within the school. Shared leadership encompasses collaboration among many educational roles to define the effective schools of the 21st century. New job demands for a diverse population of leaders and growing accountability at all levels for preparing such effective leaders provides the impetus for faculty in the department of Leadership and Educational Studies at Appalachian State University to explore new ways to prepare our students for these realities. The resulting project represents a shift from discreet courses that trapped programs in self-sustained silos of learning to expand both learning and teaching along with that of students into a more global perspective.
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The purpose of this chapter is to present an example of engaging graduate students in a collaborative effort to address a specific issue relevant to educational leadership with the intent of promoting communities of practice. The graduate students represented up to four programs within a department of leadership and educational studies at a mid-sized university in the Southeast. They are at various stages of preparation for one of the following complex roles of leadership: school administration, library science or instructional technology. The faculty within the program areas utilized 3-D virtual world platforms in an effort to the promote communities of practice that would transfer to the schools served by these future leaders.

A discussion of the context of the project is addressed first and includes a description of the delivery system of the programs involved as well as the issues of evolving leadership challenges that spurred its development. Next, the theoretical base for the project defines the rationale for the structure of the project. A description of the project itself outlines the parameters as well as specific goals and expected outcomes. This description of the project also includes a rationale for selecting the 3-D virtual worlds in terms of student engagement and support of these goals and outcomes. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the impact on students and implications for the structure of similar preparation programs in higher education.

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