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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Leadership and educational technologies : leading the charge for e-learning in British Columbia schools LaBonte, Randy


Leadership and change have been well studied, yet little has been written specifically on the role leaders play in the success or failure of implementing educational technologies and adopting e-learning programs. Traditional views of leadership emphasize charisma and personal conviction while recent studies focus on relationships within community and a leader's ability to cope with complex change. After the Ministry of Education lifted an enrolment cap on British Columbia (BC) K-12 distance education programs in 2002, the number of e-learning programs quadrupled between 2002 and 2004 and provided an excellent opportunity to examine how three dimensions - leadership, pedagogy and technology - interacted, and how leadership influenced change. The purpose of the study was to examine how leadership practice influenced use of educational technologies to improve learning. A case study of leadership within the new BC Ed Online organization was conducted. The emergence of BC Ed Online provided an exceptional opportunity to study leaders within BC's e-learning community. The study found that government policy could precipitate education change and reform, and that many leaders in this community viewed educational technologies as catalysts to educational reform. Leadership practice within this community exhibited features of transformational leadership, and tension between top down and bottom up approaches could be attributed to lack of resources to support leaders. The study also reaffirmed the key role leadership plays in systemic change and confirmed that without a clear vision, collaborative leadership, and a systems approach, organizations could commit precious resources to e-learning without much success. The study served to enlighten several issues in both theory and practice regarding leadership and implementation of educational technologies: individual perspectives within complex adaptive systems will vary depending on position and the role of individuals; emotional investment is attributed to leadership practice, yet little is written about how that emotional commitment is invested into new and emerging organizations; resolving tensions created through interactions between individuals and organizations within complex adaptive systems requires meaningful dialogue within a community that engages constituents; and, finally, transformative leadership theory may be useful in further examination of leadership as it pertains to implementation of educational technologies.

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