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!


Spotlight – Senator Patty Murray

December 3, 2008 at 6:06 am | Posted in spotlight | Leave a comment

Day One – Spotlight – Senator Patty Murray – Washington State

Senator Murray presented an empassioned plea for urgent action in bringing about change in our education system, saying:

“The need to change the way we cater for education in our young people is urgent. We can’t reinvent our economy unless our workers are adequately prepared!”

She spoke about the solutions that are required, citing the three key principles identified by her team:

  1. need to build partnerships between and among schools, businesses and the community (everyone must have a stake in the outcomes of education)
  2. need to stop being afraid to change tradition
  3. must absolutely back up our plans with adequate resources (sustained, long term efforts)

Senator Murray then went on to describe some of the interventions that her team are planning to make this a reality in the Washington area, finishing with the statement that;

“The link between academic performance and economic performance in critical.”

Keynote – Michael Horn

December 3, 2008 at 5:55 am | Posted in Keynote | 3 Comments

Day One – First Keynote – Michael Horn, co-founder and executive director of Innosight Institute.

Michael referred to the book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns which he co-authored with Clayton Christensen and  Curtis W. Johnson.

He began by explaining that the authors had begun by asking “why do successful organistations fail?” and coming to the conclusion that the very principles of good management that were useful to organisations on their way up ultimately lead to their demise.

Horn ilustrated what he meant with examples from a variety of business contexts where organisations that were once at the top of the pack ended up, 2-3 generations later, down at the middle, bottom or even failed altogether.

He then explained the development of Christensen’s work on Theories of Disruptive Innovation, ending up by explaining what lessons lie in all of this for education.

The key thing for me from this presentation (in terms of education) is the evidence that disruptive innovation is entirely dependent on the response of the consumers/customers. If the customers are already well served by an existing service, then the disruptive innovation will be in direct competition, and the likelihood is high that the existing service will win out.

If the disruptive innovation is introduced to a different sector of the market, then they are more likely to appreciate and adapt the innovation – because it’s better than what they had before (nothing). An example of this is the uptake of solar power generation in the Indian sub-continent instead of mainland USA where it goes competes directly with the established electricity grid.

In education there are a number of areas of non-consumption that Horn pointed to that may be ripe for the picking in terms of providing alternative forms of education provision, eg:

  • credit recovery (for students who have failed particular credits or standards)
  • exclusions and school drop-outs
  • scheduling conflicts within existing schools
  • home-schooled  and home-bound students
  • smaller, rural schools
  • tutoring opportunities
  • early childhood

Horn pointed out that the opportunity created for some sort of online learning provision to address the needs above is enormous. He pointed out that the adoption of online learning in the US alone is booming, with numbers of school-level students enrolled in online courses rising from 45,000 in 2000 to 1,000,000 in 2007. He suggests that, based on this tragectory, 50% of all courses will be available online by 2015.

Lots for me to think about in the NZ context in this regard – this is the enormous opportunity that we realised back in 2001/2 at the NZ Correspondence School, but the opportunity passed. The opportunity exists now with the Virtual Learning Network, but will require considerable vision and leadership to take it into this new era.

Space Needle

December 3, 2008 at 5:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Seattle Space Needle

Seattle Space Needle

Monday dawned and the sun was shining. This was the right time  for Derek and me to get the big view of the city. About 10.30am, we set off down the road to the Seattle Center, bought our $16 ticket and rode the gold car to the top of the space needle. We were afforded panoramic views of the city and some great technology treats as well.

For example, there was a city panorama with timelapse, so you could clock back the activity in any part of the view over the previous 24 hours or so, seeing the pattern of traffic movement on the highways and the path of ships in the harbour and even people in the streets.

There were other interactive features with slideshows about stately homes and other landmarks as well as the documentation of the history of the space needle. Very impressive! We sat and talked over a coffee, wondering at the view and pinching ourselves, feeling very lucky to be able to be here. We did talk work as well!  You know how work just seeps into every aspect of our lives! It was great reflective time indeed! Walked back to the hotel via the harbour and another walk through Pike Street Market before getting ready for the opening of the Schools of the Future Summit at 5.30pm.

Christmas preparation in Seattle

December 1, 2008 at 12:06 am | Posted in SOF conference 08 | Leave a comment


Sunday Morning. After a great sleep, and a workout  and swim at the hotel gym and pool, Derek and I have taken advantage of the time today to get out and around Seattle City Centre. Pike Place Market  was our first destination. Colourful stalls of fresh produce. Seafood to die for; huge atlantic salmon, fresh crabs, oysters, lobsters. We enjoyed browsing and watching people in a distictly different and interesting culture doing their pre Christmas  and weekend shopping. Found a great little second hand book store. Then headed across town along the waterfront to Seattle Center which is a large park with Exhibition Center, Science Fiction Museum and sports pavilion. We planned to ride the Space Needle ( a Seattle equivalent to Sky City) but the mist  hasnt cleared enough for us to believe the investment of dollars is worth the view. In fact it was difficult to see anything of the sound when we were on the waterfront. Just means we need to get back there before we leave town.

The Christams decorations are pretty cool here as you can see from the internal hotel decor. There is an amazing display of Christmas gingerbread houses alongside the tree in the hotel foyer, pictured above. However we are only just  adjusting to dusk falling at 4pm and the city lights going on.

Safe in Seattle

November 30, 2008 at 5:27 am | Posted in SOF conference 08 | Leave a comment

seattlesheratonAfter an arduous 16 hour journey involving three flights we’ve made it to Seattle, settling in at our hotel where the Microsoft School of the Future Conference is to be held. Apart from Marg’s bag not arriving in Seattle with us (it’s since been located and delivered to the hotel) the trip went smoothly.

I  couldn’t help but play with one of the two Microsoft multi-touch tables that are available to use in the foyer of the hotel – a great way to locate where you are in the city using the mapping software, or to browse highlights of the city by flipping through the photo album. With the two-touch technology these are easily enlarged and/or rotated to give the perspective or view you want.

I’m sure there’ll be lots more to see and play with at this conference once it is underway!

SOF Summit – Seattle

November 27, 2008 at 8:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 4th Annual School of the Future World Summit is being held in Seattle, Washington from 1-4 December, 2008. A group of educators from New Zealand has been invited to attend, and this blog is the place where their reflections, observations and new ideas will be recorded.

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