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?



When School Systems Don’t Work

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Systems thinking extends beyond just a framework for approaching IT solutions because almost everything we interact with is a system in some aspect. Systems thinking is crucial in The U.S. Education System yet this form of analysis is not always implemented. With any system, there is a chance that it will break if the parts are not viewed in an integrated manner. For example, the school to prison pipeline phenomenon arose due to “quick” or “easy” solutions that ignored the interrelated components of the system. The inputs of the education system—access to quality teachers, proper funding, and the opportunity for growth and counsel are necessary to produce the output—educated and skilled individuals that will contribute to society. Not all schools have an adequate amount of these inputs, which lessens the likelihood that these students will succeed. Additionally, certain practices cause unintended consequences. Many schools in poor and urban areas, with a predominately black and Latino student population, have reverted to zero-tolerance policies and increased police presence to combat issues within the school environment. With these policies in place, more kids are expelled or arrested. As a result, they are more likely to become involved in criminal activity and not complete their schooling. These tactics focus more on removing the problem instead of implementing a long-term and beneficial solution.  A more systems thinking approach would incorporate programs that focused on social, cognitive, and behavioral skill building for students at risk of violent or illegal behavior. This solution would better recognize students, especially those of color, as valued members instead of as disposable parts of the system.


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