Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Exploration of the Role of Leadership Behaviors and Ambidexterity in Online Learning Units
by Coleman, Nancy J., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2016, 181; 10042197
Abstract (Summary)

As technology-mediated learning continues to expand, gain critical favor, and show promise for solving a number of critical issues inherent in educating future generations, leaders of online learning (OL) units within higher education face complex challenges. It is critical that leaders of these units (1) have the right leadership skill sets to be successful and (2) are able to effectively navigate the trade-off between exploratory and exploitative innovation.

This qualitative interview study developed a holistic account of ambidexterity in OL units by reporting a variety of perspectives from different leaders. It chronicled how 10 successful OL leaders approached the task of leadership in their units and documented their approaches to the development of new products and services, as well as improvement of existing offerings and methods. The study illustrates the OL leader’s struggle to maintain strong relationships with a variety of stakeholders across the university and shows how by their understanding of the next generation of teaching and learning, these leaders have an important voice in the future of education and of the university.

The study revealed that (1) OL leaders need to focus more on the strategic aspects of education and less on technology and (2) ambidextrous leadership shows promise as an excellent model for online learning. A plethora of leadership behaviors are in use in OL units that help cultivate ambidexterity; however, the use of these behaviors is more intuitive than premeditated. Successful OL leaders like the ones interviewed understand the importance of both exploring new ways to achieve outcomes while at the same time improving upon existing methods. What is missing from the equation, however, is the intentional planning of time or work (temporal flexibility) to switch between them.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marquardt, Michael J.
Commitee: Halfond, Jay A., Szabla, David B.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Human and Organizational Learning
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Educational leadership, Educational technology
Keywords: Ambidexterity, Ambidextrous leadership, Distance education, Leadership, Online learning, Online learning leadership
Publication Number: 10042197
ISBN: 9781339550367
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