Using Crowdlearning for Leadership Development in Rural Communities

Research & Engagement, 2013


Summary

Developing the next generation of leaders is critical for the success and survival of organizations and communities. Rural communities experience additional challenges due to limited populations and geographic dispersion. In Nebraska, leadership demand is high, as one out of six adults hold a leadership role. To address these challenges, our research team created a case-based learning curriculum for developing leadership skills.

The focus of this project was to deliver leadership training using open source collaboration technology to provide an accessible, engaging and useful leadership development program, and created opportunities to connect leaders throughout Nebraska. A nine-month, e-training program was developed for emerging leaders in Nebraska. The training program focused on soft skills (e.g., feedback delivery) embedded in case-based scenarios. The participants collaboratively worked on skill building assignments, and the participants showed significant increases in their meeting effectiveness and feedback delivery skills.

Impacts

The need for leadership development opportunities in rural communities is clear. The goal of this project was to address this need by creating a virtual leadership development program for emerging leaders in rural Nebraska using a crowdlearning platform. We recognized how advances in technology make it possible for leaders in rural areas who cannot easily meet to come together in an online setting to share experiences, ask questions and learn from one another. We paired this technology with case-based learning methods to develop both creative problem solving and interactional skills. We created the cases based on actual situations rural Nebraskan leaders have faced. Each case focused on one of the creative problem solving or interactional skills we aimed to develop. Participants engaged in discussion about each case once per month. Similar cases were provided before and after each session to assess changes in skill development.

Overall, participants showed gains in development for each skill except one.  Results and feedback from participants showed greater gains and more enjoyment from the sessions on interactional skills. Most notably, results from pre- and post-assessments showed participants’ leader identity, leader self-efficacy and motivation to lead all significantly increased. Thus, the program was deemed successful, however, we also noted ways in which it could improve. In the future, we would like to make improvements to this program by offering more avenues for discussion (e.g., including asynchronous discussion boards) and by including different skills. We would also like to compare differences in learning in a face-to-face setting compared to a virtual setting. We also believe we would see more significant results from analyses if we had a larger sample of participants. A larger sample would also allow us to analyze results at the group level.

Project Team

  • Roni Reiter-Palmon (PI), University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Collaboration Science
  • Gina Scott-Ligon (Co-PI), University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Collaboration Science
  • Douglas Derrick (Co-PI), University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Collaboration Science
  • Lynn Harland (Co-PI), University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Collaboration Science
  • Gert-Jan de Vreede (Co-PI), University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Collaboration Science
  • Susan Jensen (Co-PI), University of Nebraska at Kearney, College of Business & Technology
  • Robert Bernier, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Nebraska Business Development Center

Publications

  • Mitchell, K. S., Harland, L., Reiter-Palmon, R., Ligon, G., Derrick, D., Sands, S., Kocsis, D., & Alothaim, A. (2017, July). Soft skills training can work: A collaborative training program for leadership development. Poster presented at the twelfth annual conference of INGroup, St. Louis, MO.
  • Scheller, E., Royston, R., Reiter-Palmon, R., Sands, S. J., Kocsis, D., Alothaim, A., Ligon, G., Harland, L., Derrick, D. C., de Vreede, G. J., & Jensen, S. (2017, April). Leadership development though virtual teams and case-based discussion. Poster presented at the 32nd annual Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology Meeting, Orlando, FL.
  • Reiter-Palmon, R., Sands, S., Kocsis, D., Alothaim, A., Ligon, G., Harland, L., Derrick, D., de Vreede, G.J., & Jensen S. (2015, Aug.). Self-perception of creativity and creativity training. Paper presented at the 123rd American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Jensen, S., Reiter-Palmon, R., Harland, L., Sands, S., Scott-Ligon, G., Derrick, D., de Vreede, G.J., Alothaim, A., & Kocsis, D. (2015, March). Tough Love…or Killing a Dream? Case study presented at the MBAA Society for Case Research Conference, Chicago, IL.
  • Reiter-Palmon, R. (2015, Oct.). Using crowdsources for leadership development in rural communities. Paper presented at the Rural Futures Institute Conference, Lincoln, NE.
  • Sands, S., Kocsis, D., Reiter-Palmon, R., Alothaim, A., Ligon, G., Derrick, D., Harland, L., Vreede, G.J. de, & Jensen, S. (2013, Nov.). Using case-based learning for leadership development in rural communities. Poster presented at the annual Rural Futures Conference, Lincoln, NE. Poster received honorable mention in poster competition.

Presentations

  • Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research Annual Conference
    Soft Skills Training Can Work: A Collaborative Training Program for Leadership Development
    July 20-22, 2017 | St. Louis, MO
  • 32nd Annual Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Conference Leadership Development Through Virtual Teams and Case-based Discussion
    April 27-29, 2017 | Orlando, FL
  • American Psychological Association Annual Convention
    Self-perception of Creativity and Creativity Training
    August 6-9, 2015 | Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • MBAA Society for Case Research Conference
    Tough Love…or Killing a Dream?
    March 25-27, 2015 | Chicago, IL
  • Rural Futures Institute National Conference
    Using Crowdsources for Leadership Development in Rural Communities
    October 21-23, 2015 | Lincoln, NE
  • Rural Futures Institute National Conference
    Using Case-based Learning for Leadership Development in Rural Communities
    November 3-5, 2013 | Lincoln, NE

 

Contact: Roni Reiter-Palmon, rreiter-palmon@unomaha.edu