IACE Hall of Fame Repository

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Induction Class Year



While there is considerable evidence that effective leadership makes a significant difference in student achievement in the K-12 environment (Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003), similar research linking leadership in e-learning to student success does not exist. Indeed, similar research has not been undertaken at post-secondary levels at all, most likely because student learning at institutions of higher education has not been subject to the same scrutiny as it has K-12 schools. This state of affairs is changing rapidly, however, driven to no small extent by the rise of online education, and student achievement at post-secondary institutions is increasingly being questioned. E-learning effectiveness, therefore, is an issue that e-learning leaders must take very seriously.

This chapter explores what e-learning leaders should know about learning effectiveness. Because there are still many who doubt the efficacy of e-learning, it first reviews current evidence which finds that students learn at least as much if not more in online classes as they do in traditional, face-to-face classes. It then briefly examines the notion that the online medium is better suited for new pedagogical approaches, and suggests “constructivism” as a epistemological foundation for much online teaching. However, learning is an extremely complex activity, and all learning contexts are unique. The chapter thus advocates for e-learning leaders making themselves particularly knowledgeable about their own unique e-learning contexts through the collection and analysis of empirical data. The chapter thus describes the role of learning analytics and data-based decision-making and advocates for exploring the inputs and processes of learning as well as learning outcomes. Two different approaches to assuring quality in the design of online courses are described, along with several approaches to measuring learning processes including the Community of Inquiry survey. Finally, the chapter identifies a variety of outcomes measures that are useful in this environment.

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