Marg’s View of the Opening Keynote

December 3, 2008 at 6:21 am | Posted in Keynote | Leave a comment

Michael Horn is one of the co- authors of the book “Disrupting Class” by Clayton Christensen.

Michael was the first keynote address at the Schools of the Future Summit here in Seattle. His address drew specifically on the book, outlining what research tells us about innovation in business and suggested parallels that might be drawn in education.

“The very principles of good management for an organization on the way up are actually the undoing of good organizations”

Disruptive innovation means creating a new trajectory for a product or service and often that product or service isn’t, at first, as good as the existing one in the market place.  However, it creates asymmetric competition, fulfills a new demand and develops to surpass the existing product or service.  One example Michael gave was of the transistor radio, which eventually surpassed anything that vacuum tube radio could be in terms of quality and led to the development of portable TV.

The educational argument runs that computers have failed to make a difference in schools because we have simply crammed them into traditional classrooms. We haven’t moved to a new trajectory.

Michael argues that we have to deploy computers differently:  in online learning and in areas of non consumption: viz credit recovery if students have failed traditional courses, second and third chance education, for students who need advanced classes or have scheduling conflicts,  for homeschooled and home bound students,  for small rural and urban schools,  and for tutoring and  preschool education.

Predictive S curve research would suggest that by 2019, 50% of all courses will be taught online.

Michael presented a global perspective on non consumption of education, citing developing countries, budgetary pressures, barriers such as distance, safety issues and poor  infrastructure.
These are opportunities to present disruptive forms of education with the use of IT.

I found the parallel with business models interesting and thought provoking.
I certainly see a place for IT in all of the areas Michael suggests. But the very fact that ICTs are: pervasive in our lives; that they create new and different environments in which we live and interact; means mainstream schooling cant ignore them.

We simply have to learn to do school differently.
Someone else said in one of the discussions I was in today that “education is based on tradition and the past and therefore it is difficult to change”
As a lover of history and the humanities, I would say learning from the past gives us the tools to reshape our futures. We don’t necessarily need business  lessons to do that!!! But no one would admit that changing patterns of human behaviour is an easy task!


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