Will Disruptive Innovation Change the Way the World Learns?
Michael Horn, Executive Director of Innosight Institute, a nonprofit think tank focused on education and innovation thinks so and he’s co-authored a book on the topic.
Published by McGraw Hill and available at Amazon.com, “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns is a thought provoking book that’s worthy of your time. I caught up with Mr. Horn by telephone for a five minute interview. I asked Mr. Horn a variety of questions ranging from what prompted the book, were there any surprises in his research, what steps could schools take now to implement improvements and lastly what barriers to positive change existed if there were any.
In addition to the podcast interview, I found a review of the book written by a North Carolina University Professor and for your information and review I have enclosed the review with a kink to comments below.
On Disruptive Innovation
A disruptive innovation is an innovation that transforms an existing market or sector–or creates a new one–by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, reliability, and affordability, where before the product or service was complicated, expensive, and inaccessible. It is initially formed in a narrow foothold market or niche that appears unattractive or inconsequential to industry incumbents.
Examples of disruptive innovations are the personal computer, which disrupted the mainframe and minicomputers, as well as Toyota automobiles, which disrupted those of Ford and General Motors.
In education, for example, online learning appears to be a classic disruptive innovation. In the world of higher education, for example, community colleges have been disrupting state universities for some time now. Now online universities are disrupting the community colleges.
In health care, there have been a number of disruptive innovations. For example, MinuteClinic, staffed by nurse practitioners, has enabled many people to have access to more affordable and more convenient health-care for rules-based diseases. Angioplasty is another disruptive innovation, as it is much simpler and cheaper to perform than bypass surgery. It has enabled cardiologists to perform this line of treatment rather than refer patients to cardiac surgeons for bypass surgeries.
Our co-founder, Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen, coined the term disruptive innovation and first described the phenomenon, which emerged from his research on the disk-drive industry as a doctoral student in the early-1990s. His first book on the topic, The Innovator’s Dilemma, was published in 1997.
Book Review Created by Henry E. Schaffer (North Carolina State University) and published by Educause.
“Disrupting Class” – a book review (How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns)
Created by Henry E. Schaffer (North Carolina State University) on February 22, 2009
A friend insisted (well, suggested) that I should read this book. (Thanks, Rusty.)
Why was I reluctant? Books by Harvard Business School Professors too often are shallow hype-filled advocacy of the latest fad. (And the business management arena is littered with the remnants of half-implemented fads.)
Mea culpa – this time my well justified cynicism was off base. I strongly recommend this book, even though its focus is K-12 education rather than higher education, for I think that its lessons can easily be modified and transferred. I’ll not distinguish between K-12 and higher ed any further.
How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns
Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn & Curtis W. Johnson
McGraw-Hill, c2008. 238 p
The book starts with an analysis of many of the problems faced by education – e.g. not enough computers, teacher unions, disaffected students, … – and why these real problems are simply not the effective place to start.
The authors pull out many ideas from previous studies where innovation in the business/industrial sector has worked, and emphasize “disruptive innovation” – how a new way of supplying needs can arise and grow without competing head-on with major (i.e. strong) existing businesses. (E.g. the personal computer market could grow because it was getting its sales from “nonconsumers” rather than trying to compete head-on with existing successful computer manufacturers such as DEC and IBM. Throughout the book we’re given parallels with industry with discussion as to how they would apply to education.
The key need in education which is discussed is the need for personalized (“student-centric”) education – teaching to a large variety of “learning styles”, of “intelligences”, interests and circumstances – and how the monolithic K-12 establishment doesn’t handle these needs well. (Higher ed doesn’t do quite as badly, IMHO, but really needs drastic improvement.)
What would it take to handle these needs well? Read the book! Seriously, the book doesn’t give a neat answer (and claims that no such exists) but it gives a roadmap of the path(s) needed to make progress towards doing this. I wouldn’t trust a new simple answer – but the roadmap given is substantiated with the results of decades of studies of changes in industry/business and really sounds solid.
The book is well written and a relatively easy read – although I suspect that you will, as I did, stop now and then to ponder some of the points being made, and to think over some of the thoughtful diagrams.
I’d love to see a follow up, from the authors or others, on applying these in higher ed.
disruptive innovation | Learning | Learning Technology | student centric
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