Whereas 'distance learning' has often been seen as the poor relation of face-to-face educational encounters, this article suggests that paradoxically, this mode of delivery can offer significant advantages to those aiming to develop highly situated practices, such as leadership capability. In particular, the 'distance' from the delivering educational establishment becomes 'proximity' or an affordance in terms of where the learning is actually applied, and the constraints of the programme's structure enable greater freedom on the part of participants as they choose which aspects of theory they focus on. The argument presented here is based on research conducted to gain insight into participants' experience of a two-year Masters in Leadership Studies delivered primarily through on-line, web-based technology. We conclude that despite appearing to be a 'transmission'-based learning intervention, the on-line mechanism fosters an experience similar to action learning in its engagement with participants' contexts, and also enables a more 'constructivist' approach to learning about the practice, as well as the theory, of leadership.
- transmission and constructivist modes of learning
- distance learning
- on-line learning
- leadership development