As schools of education face increasing competition from non-university-based teacher- and administrator preparation programs, many are turning to fully online and blended executive models for their leadership programs. Executive programs are revenue generators for higher education institutions, and many of their design features mirror those of for-profit institutions (McCarthy, 2015). As more schools of education consider online EdD programs, it is important to distinguish between what works and is affordable, what is affordable but doesn't work, and what works but is unaffordable. There are two conversations currently in progress at William & Mary and in the broader educational community about practitioner doctorates in education. One concerns the differences in learning outcomes for EdD programs and PhD programs, and the other concerns the delivery of EdD programs online or in blended format. Rather than identify the ways in which online programs make accommodations to achieve virtual equivalency to traditional programs, I want to know what affordances of online learning can make an online professional doctorate a superior practitioner-researcher experience to traditional programs. If online learning is to achieve legitimacy in the eyes of hiring decision makers (Richardson, McLeod, & Dikkers, 2010), shouldn't it be an approach with its own advantages beyond convenience, instead of just an acceptable alternative to best practice? I'm looking for those advantages.
McCarthy, M. (2015). Reflections on the evolution of educational leadership preparation programs in the United States and challenges ahead. Journal of Educational Administration, 53(3), 416–438.
Richardson, J. W., McLeod, S., & Dikkers, A. D. (2010). Perceptions of online credentials for school principals. Journal of Educational Administration, 49(4), 378–395.