Education Opinion

What’s up with online learning?

By LeaderTalk Contributor — March 06, 2010 2 min read
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Ok, so we all know someone or know someone who knows someone who took an online course. We all see the increasing popularity of universities like Capella, Walden, and the University of Phoenix.

With regard to school principals, the real question is can a principal candidate with online credentials get a job? The findings might surprise you. We recently sent out a survey to 500 human resource manager to understand the acceptability of online credentials for principal candidates. Among other things we found the following:

is more difficult to assess the quality of online principal
preparation programs than traditional face-to-face programs

Traditional face-to-face principal preparation programs do a better
job than online programs of preparing candidates for the demands of
the principalship.

Online principal preparation programs are of lower
quality than face-to-face programs.

The quality of principal preparation programs that are partially
online is higher than those that are wholly online.

The study found that principal preparation programs offered online are at best only somewhat accepted by those folks who vet k-12 principal candidate. This is an interesting finding because many brick-and-mortar programs offer part or all of their principal preparation coursework online. At the University of North Carolina Wilmington we have been offering our Masters of School Administration as a hybrid program for years. Starting in the Fall 2010 we will offer our Masters of School Administration Licensure Program 100% online. However when we surveyed our graduates from the past two years, nearly all of then had administrative positions if they wanted one and all were gainfully employed in k-12 education. There seems to be perception / reality mismatch here?

The real question is how can universities that offer online principal preparation courses that are hybrid or totally online be rigorous, of high quality, and be desirable by our local school districts? What can universities do to improve the image of online courses and degrees?

Jayson W. Richardson
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Note: The results of this study have been submitted as two articles. We will let you know when they are published!

Richardson, J.W., McLeod, S., & Garrett Dikkers, A. (under review). How do school districts treat K-12 principals and principal candidates with online credentials?

Richardson, J.W., McLeod, S., & Garrett Dikkers, A. (under review). Perceptions of online credentials for school principals,

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.