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Wednesday, June 18 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
CON3.10 – Emerging Faculty Learning Modalities as Disruptive Innovations: Implications for Leadership Hierarchies in Postsecondary Education in Canada (Room A317)

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“Popularized by Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, ‘disruptive innovation’ is described as change, usually technological, that causes upheaval of an entire industry sector” (in DiSalvio, 2012). This paper presentation explores leadership implications of technological and social disruptive innovations in education. In an era of increasing tuition fees, a rising cost of living, and shrinking budgets, it is understandable that questions about the value and quality of education are placing significant pressures on postsecondary institutions (DiSalvio, 2012). Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have emerged as a widely accessible alternative learning format. Communities of practice have sprung up among college and university educators, as a disruptive innovation in response to shifting landscapes in tertiary education.

This qualitative pilot study gathers rich descriptions of leadership models and professional learning initiatives within postsecondary educational institutions in Canada. The researchers are interested in ways in which traditional academic and pedagogical leadership models are being disrupted by innovative professional learning initiatives. Specifically, the study asks:

In what ways, if any, are self-organized, informal, and non-credentialed professional learning initiatives disrupting traditional leadership hierarchies in postsecondary education?

A purposive sample of faculty, educational developers, and academic leaders in colleges and universities in Canada, known to the co-investigators through their professional networks, were invited to respond to an anonymous, online survey. Sixteen (16) people, representing sixteen (16) different institutions, responded to the online survey, a forty-seven percent (47%) response rate. Narrative data collected was subjected to thematic analysis in order to propose possible implications of the study for postsecondary educational leaders. The evolution of a teaching and learning book club was examined as an example of a disruptive innovation in faculty development.

When distributive and democratic leadership approaches are applied in postsecondary education, learning is placed at the centre. In this more open, participative environment authority and responsibility for instruction, traditionally held exclusively by teachers, is shared among a network of learners. This model promotes a shifting of roles, allowing teachers to be learners as well as experts, and learners to share their prior knowledge while they engage in relevant learning that aligns with their goals and priorities.

When learning is undertaking in this way -- as a social, interactive, and constructivist process, engaging networks of people and systems -- knowing how to access and assess information becomes a more important skill than acquisition and recall.

As postsecondary institutions re-vision their purpose and place in an information age replete with distributed learning opportunities, the researchers in this study remain curious about how traditional leadership models are evolving and responding. The more open teaching and learning become, the more they problematize the place of traditional institutions as repositories of knowledge and sources of accreditation. Participants in this session will be invited to reflect on the disruptive innovations that are taking place in their own institutional contexts, and to inquire into whether and how they are influencing the academic and administrative leadership approaches at their institutions. Participants will be invited to share their reflections and to pose questions or offer comments following the formal presentation of this paper.


Wednesday June 18, 2014 3:30pm - 4:00pm EDT
A317 McArthur Hall

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