Leadership in Global Open, Online, and Distance Learning

Leadership in Global Open, Online, and Distance Learning

Ebba Ossiannilsson (Swedish Association for Distance Education, Sweden & Swedish Association for E-Competence, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5472-1.ch112

Abstract

Global open online, and distance learning call for innovation and new strategies at all levels because of current paradigm shifts and global trends towards increased digitization in all sectors in society. Thus, the educational sector must focus on new trends in executive leadership, shifting paradigms, innovative approaches to distributed leadership, and management practice. The sections in this chapter consider why we have to re-think leadership and why the demands of leadership in global open, online, and distance learning have to innovate, change and be rethought. The main topics elaborated in this chapter are increased digitization and societal issues, global open online and distance learning, and finally leadership in global open online learning arenas. In conclusion, leaders must embrace and be in the forefront in the areas of teaching, research, governance and society for the transitions to personal global open online learning.
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Introduction

Global higher education is more comprehensive and more challenging than ever before because of current paradigm shifts and global trends. Open, online, and distance learning call for innovation and new strategies at all levels. Thus, the educational sector must focus on new trends in executive leadership, shifting paradigms, innovative approaches to distributed leadership, management practice, continuous improvement in quality, and new regional, national, and global partnership models. Leaders should be empowered to examine their leadership approaches and incorporate the input from colleagues to reformulate these approaches.

The major challenges predicted for both the future of higher education and the university of 2020/2030 include the following: globalization, urbanization, changing demographics, economic growth, the knowledge-based economy, the information society with superhighways to information, increased digitization, the labor market, job transfers, and mobility (Latchem, 2016; European Commission, 2013; OECDE, 2007; UNESCO, 2015a; UNESCO-COL, 2016). Several global stakeholders, such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), and the European Commission have called for opening up education to meet today’s global demands and challenges and the visions for 2030. UNESCO (2015a) stated that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should provide inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels: early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary, technical and vocational training, thus underscoring education for all in addition to universal lifelong learning opportunities. The European Commission’s Opening up Education initiative emphasizes modernizing education and promoting innovations in teaching and learning through several formats, such as open educational resources (OER), massive open online courses (MOOCs), information and communication technology (ICT), and digital competencies, as well as infrastructure, interoperability, equity, quality, visibility, licensing, and certification (European Commission, 2013). The Commission adopted a new and comprehensive New Skills Agenda for Europe, which focuses on improving the quality and relevance of skills formation, increasing the visibility and comparability of skills and qualifications, as well as improving skills intelligence and information to enable better career choices. The aim of this initiative is to ensure that people develop a broad set of skills early in life in order for Europe to make the most of human capital, which will ultimately boost employability, competitiveness, and growth in Europe. Critical thinking, entrepreneurship, problem solving, and digital competences are just some of the competences enshrined by the New Skills Agenda. These skills have emerged as key in allowing people to attain quality jobs and fulfil their potential as confident, active citizens (European Commission, 2016).

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