Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Creating Active Learning Applications and Opportunities for an On-Line Leadership Course

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Creating Active Learning Applications and Opportunities for an On-Line Leadership Course

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper describes the creation of an on-line leadership course that retained as much of the rich, interactive nature of the face-to-face version as possible. The seven "best practice" design criteria offered by Chickering and Reisser (1993) are discussed as they relate to specific course design and instructional requirements for instructor orientation, course management organization and tool use, community building as well as the development of thematic modules and their associated assignments. Student comments provided by a case study of the on-line course (Griffin, 2007) are provided that support the efficacy of this approach.

INTRODUCTION

The growing popularity and acceptance of web-delivered education make it an attractive and desired option for expanding the educational opportunities available to students (Petrides, 2002; Rivera & Rice, 2002; Robinson & Stull, 2006). Not surprisingly, institutions of higher learning are actively expanding web-based distance education offerings as a means of capturing increased course demand and student population (Hunt, 2005, Rivera & Rice, 2002; Waits & Lewis, 2003). Northern Arizona University (NAU) is no different. The W. A. Franke College of Business (FCB) at NAU developed on-line course offerings to support a state-wide Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree to meet the needs of Arizona's place-bound students. This article describes the development of one of these on-line courses, MGT 3 1 1 Leadership.

FCB has offered a successful face-to-face delivery of the leadership course based on adult and cooperative learning techniques for several years. The development of this course was innovative in its use of adult educational techniques that encourage students to actively construct leadership theory and gain practical leadership experience. The course also offered strong student interaction through extensive in-class small group discussion and critical analysis activities. Thus, the challenge was to develop an on-line version of the course that retained as much of the rich, interactive nature of the face-to-face experience as possible. After an extensive literature review seeking guidance to address the challenge, we decided to design the on-line course based on the seven "best practice" design criteria for distance learning (Chickering &Reisser, 1993: DILA, 2005) paraphrased below:

1 . Encourage contact between students and the faculty.

2. Develop reciprocity, interaction, collaboration and cooperation among the students.

3. Encourage active and constructive-oriented learning.

4. Provide prompt feedback.

5. Emphasize time on task.

6. Communicate high expectations.

7. Respect students' diverse talents and ways of learning.

Additionally, course design required following the same master syllabus used to create the "working" syllabus of the face-to-face version of MGT3 1 1 . FCB requires master syllabi that delineate learning outcomes and expected content to encourage consistency across multiple sections of the same course offered by multiple faculty. It was also decided to adopt the same text used in the face-to-face course, Leaders & The Leadership Process: Readings, S elf- Assessments & Applications by J. Pierce and J. Newstrom (2006). The text was originally selected for its unique combination of conceptual and empirical readings, coverage of the major leadership research streams, self-assessment exercises, extensive vocabulary and the authors' perception that it helped students move beyond theory and empiricism to the practice of leadership. That said, the authors believe the design considerations discussed below allow the use of alternative text choices. The important consideration is establishing a tight linkage between the text chosen and the design of the on-line course.

COURSE DESIGN

The challenge, as noted above, was to create an on-line leadership course that provided a learning experience based on leadership theories that also incorporated an active learning environment rich in practical leadership application. …

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