Effective Educational Leadership in the Digital Age: An Examination of Professional Qualities and Best Practices

Effective Educational Leadership in the Digital Age: An Examination of Professional Qualities and Best Practices

Kwesi Armah Tandoh, Josephine Effibah Ebe-Arthur
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2953-8.ch013
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The purpose of this paper is to develop and promote a realistic understanding of leadership in higher education in a digital learning environment. This is critical to supporting current generations of students also known as digital natives in the digital age. This chapter also discusses the importance of immediacy in educational leaders in education, and its ability to allow both learners and leaders to work together in an environment that promotes teaching and fosters meaningful learning. Leadership challenges discussed include lack of communication between leadership, students, and employees, maintaining quality with diminished resources. Best practices discussed include setting the pace, developing the human capital, and developing the school as an organizational unit and also promote individual responsibility and leadership accountability. Finally, workplace behaviors such as effective leadership behavior and role modeling, interaction between leaders, stakeholders, and the promotion of mutual understanding are discussed.
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One of the most discussed issues in society today is leadership in the academic field in a digital environment. There is hardly a day that goes by currently without reference to leadership and leading (Hunt, 2004). This view is mainly bolstered by the belief that the success or failure of every community depends mainly on the type and performance its leadership (Pounder, Ogawa & Adams, 1995; Leithwood & Riehl, 2003). According to Storey (2004), there were 136 articles on leadership in 1970-71. This increased to 258 between 1980-81, 1,105 in 1990-91, and leapfrogged to an astounding 10,062 in 2001-2002. Likewise, a research done on the concept of educational leadership between 1988-1995 revealed a total of 121 articles on leadership out of 716 articles (Leithwood & Duke, 1999).

The challenge for academia is to find a viable remedy that counters the greater pressure from society for educational institutions to acquire and retain effective leadership and management if they are to ensure student success in a digital learning environment. As the synergy between global economies grow, governments have recognized that their success depends mainly on well-trained work force. This consensus means retaining dedicated and well-trained teachers, who in turn will depend on effective leadership and management support (Bush, 2007). We believe that this chapter will be part of a growing array of catalysts designed to help alleviate the concerns about leadership preparation and performance in higher education. It can also serve as a reference point for stakeholders as they strive to attract the best leadership brains for academia.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Leadership: An individual or a group of people who motivate and influences others to partake in activities- perform duties they would not have involved themselves without an external influence.

Managerial Leadership: A Leadership that sets organizational goals, does needs analysis, sets achievable priorities including, planning, budgeting, implementing and evaluating organizational performance.

Servant Leadership: The servant leadership is a type of leadership where leaders display a desire to serve rather than lead. Servant leadership focuses mainly on the premise of serving something greater than being the leader.

Best Practices: The process of determining the best teaching methods for specific learners in a specific context, attempting to obtain a specific outcome (Dick and Carey, 2001 AU77: The in-text citation "Dick and Carey, 2001" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Transactional Leadership: Leadership style where followers commit to leaders based on reliable benefits. Transformational leaders build school vision, establish goals, provide intellectual encouragement, and offer one-on-one support, and model institutional best practices and values.

Distributed Leadership: Views-- leadership as collective based on teams, groups and organizational characteristics. It opposes the supposition that individuals should lead others in order to ensure change (Heller and Firestone, 1995 AU79: The in-text citation "Heller and Firestone, 1995" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). Distributed Leadership assumes that leadership is not limited at the top elite but members at the various level in the organization are potential leaders.

Digital Immigrants: Refers to educational leaders who were born before the digital natives as digital immigrants who have adopted many parts of the technology in use.

Transformational Leadership: A leadership style where followers and leaders work together for a common cause to ensure group success. It is “a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents.” Burns (1978) .

Charismatic Leadership: Leadership style that achieves results through seductive approach which engages and stimulates followers.

Digital Age: The generation in history during which the use of digital technology became ubiquitous throughout the world.

ICT: (Information and Communication Technologies). This is a term used to incorporate communication devices or application like radio, television, smart phones, computers and network hardware and software.

Digital Natives: These students are native speakers of technology, very adept in digital computer language, the internet and World Wide Web, and video games, and cell phones. This is a group of students who have grown up with information and communication technology (ICT) as a basic part of their regular lives (Bennett & Kervin, 2008 AU78: The in-text citation "Bennett & Kervin, 2008" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

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