Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Quality M.Ed. Principal Licensure Degrees + Conscientious Students = Leader Principals

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Quality M.Ed. Principal Licensure Degrees + Conscientious Students = Leader Principals

Article excerpt


Effective educational leadership at the principal level positively correlates with quality classroom teachers and improved student achievement (Portin et al. 2003). It also fosters a caring, supportive, and interconnected environment that inspires students and engages teachers (Seashore Louis et al. 2010). Preparing competent, effective, and caring principals is the goal of Northcentral University's (NCU) 36-credit hour Master of Education with a specialization in PK-12 Principal Leadership (M.Ed./PLCS) degree, offered through its School of Education.

Literature Review

Knowing the breadth and depth of the demands and responsibilities facing principal candidates and taking into consideration the intensity of quality licensure programs, institutions are looking more closely at how to meet the educational needs for working educators seeking principal licensure. While holding principal candidates and faculty accountable to high national, state, and programmatic standards, accessibility and flexibility have become an integral part of the discussion. The use of distance technology to deliver leadership programs is becoming more and more acceptable with the opportunity to validate the effectiveness as compared to face-to-face instruction. According to Sherman, Crum, and Beaty (2010, 600), "Students indicated that they enjoyed pedagogies that were embraced through distance technology (81%) and believed distance technology required them to be more independent as learners and become more responsible for their own learning."

Demand for Online Education

The very first virtual classroom environments were created in the 1960s at the University of Illinois (Eduventures 2012). In 2014, online courses are now a norm--not an anomaly--at private, state, and for-profit schools (Eduventures 2012). Allen and Seaman (2014) define online learning as taking place when 80% of a course's content is delivered online, without face-to-face interaction (Allen and Seaman 2014).

The most recently available estimates, for 2011, indicate online courses are capturing 14% of the total education market share and more than 30% of the adult graduate market; annually, over seven million students take at least one online course (Eduventures 2012; Allen and Seaman 2014). In fact, online education revenues for the 2010/2011 school year were expected to reach $24 billion (Eduventures 2012). According to Eduventures (2012), 20% of the US student body will be enrolled in online courses or programs by the end of 2014. Online M.B.A. programs are the most popular subject area, followed closely by M.Ed. degrees (Eduventures 2012).

Students are choosing online programs for four primary reasons: the modality does not conflict with their professional careers (31%); there is no need to travel to a campus to attend classes (25%); it allows them to take care of family obligations (21.9%); and some students prefer an online versus in-person educational experience (21.9%) (Sherman, Crum, and Beaty 2010). Online education also fits the preferred study times of students; 53% of students prefer to engage in learning activities in the late evening versus 35% who prefer the morning (Sherman, Crum, and Beaty 2010).

Access and Innovation in Online Education

Access and innovation frame the discussion surrounding the rapid growth of online education. Online education has created a different yet flexible landscape for students to earn entire degrees, while universities are capable of offering more program and specialization options to a greater diversity and geographical range of students (Eduventures 2012). As online education continues to expand, the majority of institutions are incorporating or enhancing online education into their long-term strategic planning, ranging from initial implementation to advance delivery (Allen and Seaman 2014). Interestingly, the percentage of higher education institutions reporting online education is included in their long-term strategy has increased to 70%. …

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