Leadership in Online Education: A Scoping Review





Leadership, Online learning, Scoping review, Educational leaders, Digitized education


Over the last two decades, we have witnessed a growing interest in online learning. There is an increased focus on online education research due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the crisis led to online education platforms becoming a necessity for educationists and students. This article reviews online education, purely, in the context of leadership. Past reviews have focused on concepts surrounding online learning such as technology, pedagogy, and student satisfaction. However, limited attention has been drawn to leadership exclusively in relevance to online education. The scoping review analyses 63 articles published between 2002-2022 to answer two research questions. First, what are the research concepts, theories, models, and frameworks operationalized in the publications within this topic domain? Second, who are the stakeholders and leaders identified in literature? Through synthesizing alternative research perspectives in the field of leadership, education, and information and communication technology (ICT), this review identifies four categories of research literature relevant to the topic domain. Following themes emerged from the analysis of the publications: impact of leadership on online education; student experience in an online leadership programme; impact of online education on leadership development of actors in an online education setting; and perception of leadership in an online education setting. Based on the review, an agenda is proposed for future research to enhance our understanding of the role of leadership in online education and elucidate the relationship between leaders and online learning in educational institutions. A lack of focus on the key leaders in the existing literature is made apparent, and further empirical research is recommended. This review makes a theoretical contribution by consolidating existing research in leadership in online education through the synthesis categories and identifying future research pathways. The findings have practical implications for leadership in online education in educational organizations through identification of stakeholders and the entities in leadership positions.



20 Sep 2023