The Role of Leadership and Communication: Challenges Reconceptualizing Graduate Instruction

The Role of Leadership and Communication: Challenges Reconceptualizing Graduate Instruction

Heather M. Rintoul (Nipissing University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8516-9.ch008

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, new financial decisions and considerations leading to hardships for faculty and their families as well as trends 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 and new trends for instructional leadership and communication moving forward in the virtual realm.

Key Terms in this Chapter

MOOC: Massive open online courses.

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

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.

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

Synchronous Program: A program facilitating all participants attending face-to-face together online at the same time (e.g., Elluminate, Skype).

Self-Directed Learning: Each individual takes responsibility and accountability for his/her own learning.

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

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

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