The distribution of instructional leadership in eLearning clusters : an ecological perspective
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This study explores educational leadership within and across two of NZ’s eLearning clusters. Two complementary perspectives of educational leadership are used to frame the investigation: instructional leadership and distributed leadership. The research was conducted approximately nine months after the cessation of a two-year Ministry subsidy for the employment of 12 ePrincipals and at a time when Ultrafast Broadband was imminent for nearly all NZ schools.
The literature review explores aspects of two areas related to eLearning leadership: conventional educational leadership in ‘bricks-and-mortar’ schooling contexts and eLearning/eTeaching in virtual schooling contexts. Data was gathered from semistructured interviews with twelve school-based research participants (ePrincipals, eTeachers, Site Supervisors and Principals) across two of NZ’s eLearning clusters and four National Officials with responsibilities for wider forms of eLearning. The findings are presented in a manner that attempts to capture directly the research participants’ voices, while still maintaining confidentiality and anonymity. The findings are discussed using an ecological perspective of eLearning as the unifying framework to explore the leadership across nested and interacting layers, from the micro-level of an eLearning class to the macro-level of NZ’s system for secondary education.
The major findings from the study indicate that educational leadership in eLearning clusters is complex, relies heavily on goodwill and collaboration, and occurs in a challenging environment. Within an eLearning cluster the leadership of eLearning/eTeaching is distributed primarily across the ePrincipal, eTeachers and Site Supervisors who each assume complementary leadership roles. A raft of recommendations, across all ecosystem levels of eLearning, is proposed for leaders to consider when initiating change to strengthen their practices and policies with respect to enhancing eLearning and eTeaching.