Instructor: David Schuff, Section 003

Disruptive Innovation in Education

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Disruptive innovation refers to a new idea or product that drastically changes the way things were previously done. This is something that is very common in many industries, but is much needed within the education industry. Clayton Christensen’s Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, highlights the difficulties with innovation in education, and how computers and technology could be just the type of digital innovation needed within the educational system. This topic was particularly interesting for me, because I have been working for a company in the EdTech industry for the past year, who’s goal is to enhance the value of K-12 education through the use of innovative technology. One of the main ways personal technology can create disruptive innovation is through its ability to provide for a more individualized education for students. Often times the education system generalizes lesson plans due to a lack of resources or finances, and students who do not learn in the traditional way are the ones who suffer. Online learning presents and alternative solution to this problem, and can allow for the development of child-specific lesson plans. Such a level of individualized instruction would be impossible in the traditional classroom setting. Students with any learning style preferences can benefit from this type of disruptive innovation in the education system, by being presented with the opportunity to take additional classes not offered in the traditional classroom, work at his or her own pace, and focus on what learning styles work best for him/her individually. A question I have is, other than the obvious costs, what other factors are limiting disruptive innovation in education? In what other ways can personal technology create disruptive innovation in education?



2 Responses to Disruptive Innovation in Education

  • Bridgette, I agree that the U.S. Education System is in need of and could benefit greatly from disruptive innovation/ more innovation in general. It’s been so long since the education system has undergone a major reform, and the same ineffective tactics continue to permeate this system. I can definitely see how online learning would benefit students by providing a more tailored learning experience, but I think grade schools would have difficulty encouraging a large number of students to enroll in it. Part of the reason for this may be because it would require more parental supervision for the child to be able to take classes online at home, and often this is unavailable since most parents work full time. It could be helpful if grade school teachers provided a class capture type of stream or pre-recorded videos about specific topics being taught in class like fractions, grammar, etc. for their students to access at home. That way, if a child has difficulty with a topic in class, he and his parents could use the video as a guide to review the topic more at home.

  • I agree that there is a lot of room for technology to enhance the educational experience. Disruptive innovation in elementary, middle and high school in the form of online learning can help bring about more equitable access to high-quality education. A lot of schools do not have the resources to offer classes students will need in life to be successful. Online learning can deliver high-quality teaching and learning experiences regardless of what school district a student lives. Each student can receive a tutor-like experience at an affordable cost. However, I still think there are a lot of people who are skeptical of online education and would rather their child be taught in a classroom with a teacher physically present. It is hard to control what children have access to online and online education does not offer the same social education that being in a physical classroom with other students offers.

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