Enabling IT Self-leadership in Online Education

U. Yeliz Eseryel
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 16  •  2020  •  pp. 123-142

This paper investigates the factors contributing to student IT self-leadership in online education using an exploratory study. Specifically, our goal was to understand whether the instructors’ transformational IT leadership and the students’ personal innovativeness with IT contributed to student IT self-leadership.

The study was conducted in an online course. While today’s students are expected to be IT natives, they still lack the skills to find and learn technologies on their own. This is problematic for both online education and students’ future careers. Directed-teaching methods are not appropriate to solve this kind of problem, a more constructivist teaching method is appropriate. We recommend that instructors adopt transformational IT leadership to set norms around technology use, to be role models in using online course technologies with utmost knowledge, and to encourage and support the students in their use of IT.

An exploratory research is conducted with 46 students in an online management information systems course at a public university. The data were analyzed using PLS structural equation modeling technique.

This paper introduces the unique concepts of student IT self-leadership and instructors’ transformational IT leadership by adapting concepts from the self-leadership and transformational leadership theories. IT self-leadership refers to the ability to intentionally influence one’s own thinking, feeling, and actions toward the use of IT to reach one’s work and life goals. To increase IT self-leadership, students should try new technologies as much as possible. Instructors should set up norms about trying new technologies, troubleshooting one’s own issues, and play a supportive and encouraging role, rather than employing directed-teaching methods.

IT self-leadership skills are the ability to intentionally influence one’s own thinking, feeling and actions towards the use of IT to reach one’s work and life goals. The findings show that instructors’ transformational IT leadership as well as students’ innovativeness with IT contributes to students’ IT self-leadership.

Practitioners may consider exhibiting transformational IT leadership skills including (1) giving encouragement about IT use, (2) fostering trust, (3) encouraging thinking about IT problems in new ways, (4) being clear about their values about IT by practicing what they preach in their IT use, and (5) inspiring students by being highly competent in IT. Potential ways that the instructors can exhibit these skills are discussed in the paper.

Researchers are recommended to include IT-self leadership of both students and instructors in their investigations on learning success. Furthermore, the inclusion of transformational IT leadership in new studies of teaching and learning success is recommended.

This paper includes students as part of the solution to challenges students face in online courses rather than treating them like passive recipients of educational changes. Thereby, it helps teachers and students to work together for a better solution to educational disruptions.

Studies should be conducted to determine other antecedents and outcomes of IT self-leadership. Research is needed on specific ways practitioners can increase their IT transformational leadership. While this paper introduced how the instructor of the exploratory study provided transformational IT leadership, more than one way of reaching each goal was practiced. Future research should test the connection between each transformational IT leadership behavior presented here and its outcome.

transformational IT leadership, IT self-leadership, personal innovativeness with IT, constructivism
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