Saturday, January 4, 2014

Starting the conversation

Who needs leadership?
  Social problems, change and education futures

Introduction – so what’s going on that needs education intervention?

According to Keller (2008),  changes in many things including technology “constitutes [sic] the most consequential set of changes in society since the late nineteenth century, when the nation went from a largely domestic, rural, agrarian mode of living to an industrial, international, and urban economy” (Preface xi).  Consequently, for higher education, “this set of circumstances is going to force all academic enterprises to rethink their place and purpose not just in philosophical terms but in very pragmatic ways as well.” (Beaudoin, 2003, p. 520).  These philosophical and pragmatic changes also affect teaching practice and the role of teacher.

Across the globe in the last decades, pervasive technology and notable socio-economic dynamism have changed our society. This change has made it increasingly difficult for education to operate in insular ways; attention to changing demographics, global economies, new social mores and new information and communication technologies is vitally important (Keller 2008).  The potential reach of technology seems limitless, and has already changed education in “the way we organize ourselves, our policies, our culture, what faculty do, the way we work, and those we serve” (Ikenberry 1999, p. 63). Change in education to accommodate broader societal changes and requirements embodies new ways of thinking about access to education, economic issues, accountability, technology the teaching-learning process and, most importantly, leadership. 

This short course provides the opportunity to examine the premises behind open and distance education, to identify global social problems amenable to solutions found in open and distance education delivery, and considers the leadership strategies that may provide the greatest likelihood that ODE can be adopted.  Our challenge: identify six principles of sound, strategic leadership of value when using ODE as a remedy for significant social problems.

When we speak of leadership in education, we are speaking of leadership in public institutions that are designed to serve the greater good.  It is not possible to provide effective leadership without an understanding of the purpose of education, and its role in society.  Education is fundamentally characterized by a quest for improving the human condition.  It is to overcome social and economic challenges, resolve inequities, promote societal power and prowess and allow for individual development.   According to Schofield, education is a place where people develop according to their unique needs and potential; one of the best means of achieving greater social equality is to allow every individual to develop to their full potential. Leadership requires that schools be shaped in such a way to so.  Few accomplish this goal perfectly. The critics think otherwise - education is a system created to reproduce the existing inequalities. 

Schofield, K. (1999). The purposes of education. Queensland State Education: 2010. Retrieved from

Of all the opportunities we have to define the leadership that education needs, what is your definition?

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