Term of Award

Spring 2005

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Michael D. Richardson

Committee Member 1

Stephen J. Jenkins

Committee Member 2

James F. Burnham

Committee Member 3

Catherine C. Wooddy

Abstract

The rapid global emergence of a multi-billion dollar electronic (e)-leaming industry has forced department chairs in the field of educational leadership and administration in higher education institutions across the United States to assess the value, quality, and legitimacy of online instruction. For many, the concept of online education significantly challenges deeply held pedagogical beliefs and educational values such as academic freedom, protection of intellectual property rights, academic integrity, and quality. For others, the "fit" of online education with existing departmental and institutional mission statements, cultures, budgets, reward systems, policies and procedures, is unclear or uncertain. In an age where "technology has expanded our ability to create, transfer, and apply knowledge by factors of 100 to 1,000 every decade" (Duderstadt, 2001), critics have labeled members of the traditional Academy as being slow and unresponsive to technological change and unresponsive to the demands of an increasingly diverse and technologically savvy customer base. The department chair as "academic leader" (Hecht, et al., 1999) is being called upon to lead his or her faculty body toward a more customer-responsive pedagogy that is either supplemented or replaced by digital technologies (Bergquist, 1992; Rowley, et al., 1998; Duderstadt, 1999; Duderstadt, 2001).

The researcher's intent was to assess educational administration department chairs' perceptions regarding the prevalence and scope, value, quality, and legitimacy of online education, its equivalency with traditional face-to-face instruction, and whether or not they agree with its pedagogical and philosophical tenets. It was also the researcher's intent to assess the perceived "fit" between online instruction and their departmental and institutional missions, cultures, structures, and budgets, and faculty members, and the extent to which and from whom they feel pressure to adopt online instructional innovations.

Major conclusions from the study included (1) a perception by educational administration department chairs that online instruction is appropriate for educating and training students in a people-oriented, people-driven field such as educational administration, (2) a perception that online instruction is comparable in academic rigor, quality, and effectiveness to traditional face-to-face instruction (3) an acknowledgement that online education is not merely an instructional "fad," but an instructional innovation that has a place in courses or degree programs deemed amenable by chairs and their

faculty, (4) a perception that educational administration faculty are ready and willing to embrace online education as a valid, legitimate mode of instruction and, on average, have a moderate knowledge of and skill level in using instructional technologies, (5) a perception that while educational administration department chairs are aware of increasing student demands for online educational opportunities, most did not perceive students to show a stronger interest in completing their graduate degree programs online rather than face-to-face, (6) a perception that students, as customers, not be permitted to dictate the subject matter taught and course delivery mode, (7) an indication that they do not feel pressure from deans, vice presidents of academic affairs/provosts, accrediting bodies, employers of graduate students, and for-profit online institutions of higher education to offer online courses and degree programs, (8) the acknowledgement by department chairs that while they highly value providing faculty members with timely and adequate financial rewards, recognition, technical support, and professional development and training support, they are often unable to identify funding in support of these efforts, and (9) the perception that content-laden courses and courses not dependent upon the demonstration or learning of people-skills are most amenable to fully online or Web-facilitated delivery.

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