Parents Promote Disruptive Innovation

Michael Horn spoke to the National Coalition Public School Options today in Washington DC.  NCPSO is an extraordinary network of parents that advocate for educational options for families particularly online learning.
Horn is a coauthor of Disrupting Class and a leading advocate for online learning.  He gave the roomful of discerning parents a little history of disruption.
In 1989, Clay Christensen joined the faculty of the Harvard Business School and began studying why successful organizations fail.  He found the factors that had promoted success were often cause of the demise.  These organizations would add sustaining innovations—think computers and cars—that made models a little better and a little more expensive every year.  This cycle of product improvement leaves room for new competitors to fulfill similar needs for substantially less.
These “disruptive innovations” often replace non-consumption for under served consumers.  In education non-consumption includes credit recovery, dropout recovery, and home education.
The Disrupting Class authors prediction that more than 50% of high school education would be online by 2019 seemed aggressive four years ago, but it’s now clear that that the majority of all K-12 students will learn online or in schools that blend online and onsite learning by the end of the decade.
The real promise is to transform the monolithic system to one that customizes learning.  Michael is quick to point out that BL is not 1:1, not digital textbook, not white boards.  According to Horn, blended learning is “anytime a student learns in part in a supervised brick and mortar place away from home and at least in part through online delivery, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and place.”  He is sympathetic to my friendly amendment of a productivity seeking shift (learning and operating).
Michael closed by pointing out that online learning is disruptive because it is not beholden to old metrics, models, budgets, and boundaries.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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