21st Century Leadership in Open and Distance learning Environments

Moffat C Tarusikirwa


The 21st Century brought with it a rapid advancement in technology, so fast that many players in both industry and education were caught napping as their once relevant processes and ways of doing business became absolute. Coupled with the technological leap in advancement, for education in particular was the sudden demand for education provision that lead to an unprecedented massification of education (Maunde, 2003; Mama, 2003, 2005). In Zimbabwe, for example, the massification of education was from around the 1980’s onwards. The former ivory tower, single university failed to cop with the many school leavers’ demand for a university education (Maunde, 2003; Gaidzanwa, 2007). As such, ODL as a way of university education became a reality. ODL, had the capacity to school thousands of students for a little cost. For example, technological advancement, reduced distances between tutor and tutee to zero (see Brown and Brown, 1994). With digitalisation of the education provision, space requirements such as classrooms became minimal. In leadership terms, the 21st educational environment, particularly, ODL learning environment, cried out for a certain type of leader. It was no longer business as usual. With digitalisation, the education provision game had changed completely (Brown and Brown, 1994). It called for a certain type of leader, at every level of an educational institution. In conclusion, leadership of ODL institutions of the 21st century should aim to produce graduates that are critical, innovative, collaborative, communicative, information literate, media literate and technology literate. Moreover, they should be equipped with leadership skills. Institutional leadership should also aim to train staff members in particular, academics to be literate in all the above. A major recommendation was that institutional leadership should create academic programmes that are built around the 21st Century digital technologies.


Leadership, Open and Distance Learning (ODL), 21st Century

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