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The Covid-19 pandemic has blown through the Higher Education sector like a Schumpterian ‘gale of creative destruction’ (Schumpeter, 1934), accelerating the pace of change, disrupting entrenched pedagogical approaches, and revealing glimpses of the future of teaching. This study identifies how university-based early adopters responded to this ‘gale,’ successfully implementing the rapid change required to pivot to online teaching while addressing institutional requests to support the reluctant majority. Adopting an innovative interdisciplinary framework, this study advances understanding about the criticality of early-adopter behaviour in implementing change. The triggers, dynamics and impact of early-adopter behaviours are identified, as are the resultant implications for institutions for resourcing, recognising, and rewarding early adopters. The research design is underpinned by polyphony (Belova, 2010). Theoretical aspects from entrepreneurship (Stevenson, Roberts & Grousebeck, 1989) and networked learning (Dohn, Cranmer, Sime, De Laat & Ryberg, 2018) are also incorporated, relating early adopter behaviour to the entrepreneurial process in the context of virtual learning communities. This study uses vignettes from early adopters who have pivoted to online teaching in a university, identifying their experiences of instigating and supporting change. The findings highlight the facilitators of, and constraints on, early adopter behaviour, identifying the contextual characteristics necessary to challenge preconceived institutional notions and develop intrapreneurial mindsets that more readily support and implement early-adopter behaviours.
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