The instructional delivery mode in distance education has been transitioning from the context of a physical classroom environment to a virtual learning environment or maintaining a hybrid of the two. However, most distance education programs in dual mode institutions are situated in traditional face-to-face instructional settings. Distance education leaders, therefore, operate in a transition mode which requires some level of flexibility as they authorize and manage change and regularly upgrade their knowledge and skills base to adapt to the constantly changing environment. It is obvious that online distance learning is an evolving learning environment that requires leaders of traditional learning environment to acquire new skills and assume new roles. The requirements for distance education leadership and the dearth of research on how educational and leadership theories influence leaders of distance education programs calls for an examination of leadership theories. Examining various leadership theories provides a theoretical framework for current and prospective distance education leaders. This paper examines theories that can impact distance education leadership. These include transformational, situational, complexity, systems, and adoption and diffusion of innovation theories.
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration