In 2014, JCU launched its Blended Learning Policy. Following its initial rollout, we identified a need to explore the sustainability of approaches to adopting and using learning technologies to support blended learning.
A successful Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Extension Grant enabled the investigation of existing informal networks that support learning technology use to be mapped against the viral leadership framework developed by Lisa Cluett and colleagues as a result of their ALTC Viral Leadership Project.
Blended learning is the purposeful integration of face-to-face and online teaching that supports and enhances the students' learning experience. Blended learning continues to gain traction in the sector because the availability and usability of online platforms provides students with greater access to learning opportunities, while still supporting the demonstrated desire and need for face-to-face interaction with discipline experts.
Viral leadership describes how informal staff networks interact to support each other in their work. There is a central figure, the 'super infector', who coordinates network activity and other network members, as well as 'regular infectors' who are the 'glue' that holds the network together.
Viral leadership is important in the higher education sector for two reasons. Firstly, it explains the interactions between colleagues who informally share their teaching practice in a workplace where staff are often isolated. Further, there is potential to revolutionise the way professional development is delivered in the higher education sector by harnessing the power of viral networks.
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