As online learning evolves from amateur experimentation to a mainstream professional entity on campus, new standards for quality online learning leadership are emerging in order to not only sustain these distance programs, but ensure they meet the growing demands of 21st-century academe.

Key Points:

  • The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) has released a report detailing seven hallmarks of excellence in online leadership.
  • These standards of excellence for online learning leadership are an attempt to articulate those features and principles that will create opportunities for students that “far exceed anything already achieved in higher education, take pedagogy to a new level, and demonstrate the capacity of universities to be an even more vital force in our society,” notes the report.
  • Hallmarks range from advocacy to entrepreneurial initiatives and much more.

(Next page: The 7 new standards for excellent online learning leadership)

The 7 standards for excellent online learning leadership

According to the UPCEA report:

  1. Advocacy and Leadership within the University: Those charged with leading an enterprise must build internal alliances, and reflect the larger goals, values, and strategies of their institutions.
  2. Entrepreneurial Initiative: Recognizing that online education is inevitably about innovation, experimentation, risk, and imagination, emerging leaders must have the skills and creativity to facilitate responsible change.
  3. Faculty Support: Leaders must envelop their faculty with the tools they need to create education equal to, if not exceeding, that of the traditional classroom.
  4. Student Support: Recognizing that online students demand a learning experience at least comparable to that on-campus, leaders must be ongoing advocates for students earning their degrees remotely from their institutions.
  5. Digital Technology: Leaders must provide an environment that is current, dependable, and rich in the creative use of tools to enhance learning, interaction, and program integrity.
  6. External Advocacy and Leadership beyond the University: Since online enterprises must represent their institutions to an often skeptical public, leaders must be an authoritative voice to regulators, accreditors, alumni, members of the business community, and many others.
  7. Professionalism: Recognizing that emerging entities need policies and practices that demonstrate the integrity of a profession still establishing itself, those leading the growth of online learning must exemplify the highest ideals and contribute to a growing professional community on a national scale.

Each of the seven hallmarks are further explained in depth by the UPCEA report, including the goal of each standard, its key elements, implementation strategies, and key performance indicators.

For the full UPCEA report, click here.

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About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.