The Role of Leadership and Communication: Re-Conceptualizing Graduate Instruction Online

The Role of Leadership and Communication: Re-Conceptualizing Graduate Instruction Online

Heather M. Rintoul (Nipissing University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9970-0.ch027
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Abstract

This chapter explores concerns and challenges associated with the transition to online graduate instruction from the traditional face-to-face format. The author discusses several catalysts for the transition to virtual teaching; the ethics of being present; impediments to learning and communication online; and participant concerns. The chapter also considers online knowledge and meaning-making, online communities and associated uncertainties. Finally, considerations for leadership and communication moving forward are addressed.
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Introduction

The pursuant exponential expansion of virtual instruction offers an appropriate opportunity to reflect about the effectiveness of this medium from a leadership and communication perspective as it compares to the traditional face-to-face experience. Conceptual in nature, in this chapter I examine the role of faculty as instructional leaders of graduate online teaching and learning. I first consider two significant pieces of the backstory leading to the implementation of online instruction. Next, I speak to concerns regarding the ethics of ‘being present’ in the graduate seminar tradition, specifically: instructor presence, interpersonal (social) presence, and cognitive presence while discussing some supplementary perceived impediments to authentic leadership, communication, and learning online. I then consider the (re)-conceptualising of online knowledge acquisition and meaning-making, understandings around the idea of communities and perceptions of relationships online, as well as on-going uncertainties about online instruction and learning. Finally, I envisage possible pathways for instructional leadership and communication moving forward in the virtual realm.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Learning Environment: Web-based platform for the digital aspects of course study.

Digital Native: A person who has been familiar with computers, the Internet, and other digital technology from a very young age.

MOOC: Massive open online courses.

Asynchronous Program: A program whereby participants attend online at different times, e.g. Blackboard.

Digital Immigrant: A person who became familiar with computers as a young adult or later in life.

E-Learning: Learning conducted via electronic media, typically on the Internet.

Self-Directed Learning: Each individual takes responsibility and accountability for his/her own learning.Synchronous Program: A program facilitating all participants attending face-to-face together online at the same time, e.g. Elluminate, Skype.

Graduate Programs: These programs include both Masters and Doctoral seminars.

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