Exploring distributed leadership for the quality management of online learning environments

Stuart Palmer, Dale Holt, Maree Gosper, Michael Sankey, Gary Allan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Online learning environments (OLEs) are complex information technology (IT) systems that intersect with many areas of university organisation. Distributed models of leadership have been proposed as appropriate for the good governance of OLEs. Based on theoretical and empirical research, a group of Australian universities proposed a framework for the quality management of OLEs, and sought to validate the model via a survey of Australasian university representatives with OLE leadership responsibility. For the framework elements: Planning and Resourcing were rated most important; Organisational structure was rated least important; Technologies were rated low in importance and high in satisfaction; Resourcing and Evaluation were rated low in satisfaction; and Resourcing had the highest rating of importance coupled with low satisfaction. Considering distributed leadership in their institution, respondents reported that the organisational alignments represented by 'official' reporting and peer relationships were significantly more important and more effective than the organisational alignments linking the formal and informal leaders. From a range of desirable characteristics of distributed leadership, 'continuity and sustainability' received the highest rating of importance and a low rating of 'in evidence' – there are concerns about the sustainability of distributed leadership for the governance of OLEs in universities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-75
    Number of pages15
    JournalEuropean journal of open, distance and e-learning
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • online learning environments
    • distributed leadership
    • quality management framework

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