Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Schools Of The Future Debrief Part 1: "Disrupting Class"

Micheal Horn was the first keynote speaker at the conference (and one that made an impression on me), there to discuss the ideas in his book Disrupting Class, co-authored with Clayton Christensen (link's to their blog). Horn began with the question: why do successful organizations fail? This anchor question led to a discussion of the theory of disruptive innovation. Basically, that technology moves faster than what people need and/or want. So real innovation happens when there are areas of non-consumption that are ripe for a new model, new way of being. And this led to his discussion of technology in education.

He says, and so does all of the latest education research that I've been reading, that computers in classrooms have essentially failed, they haven't made a difference. At best, the most digital of conventional schools are simply digitizing the same old teaching and learning techniques. Or, they're cramming disruptive technologies into old paradigms. Sure, small gains have been made in small pockets (charter schools mostly). But on the whole, not much meaningful innovation in schools.

In his slides he presents an argument for 50% of education being online by 2019, using some pretty complex graphs and charts. The basis for this contention was mainly the usual suspect: mandates vs. the way we really learn. And, that what are disruptive technologies now will reach innovative status in education by 2019 or so. In online education, as the technology and vision catch up, it's easy to see that I could teach all 18 students in my sophomore English class, for example, according to their individual learning styles and needs, and I could track those learning needs, and teach them how they learn best and how to be the best learner they can be.

In addition, Horn listed areas of non-consumption in education, just waiting for a little educational entrepreneurship:
-Credit Recovery
-Drop Outs
-AP courses
-Schedule Conflicts
-Homeschool and Homebound Students (over 2 million of them today)
-Small Urban and Rural Schools

He goes on to name areas of global education non-consumption:
-3 million worldwide that don't attend primary school
-200+ million worldwide that don't attend secondary school
-Budget Pressures
-Barriers of distance, security, and infrastructure

Finally, Horn named some examples of places and companies that seem to be getting it:
-K-12 ed in Dubai
-Mobile Solutions

Now excuse me while I go start planning my online school:)


MHorn said...

Thanks for your post and glad you enjoyed the keynote! Good luck in your own disruptive endeavors now. :-)

C. Watson said...

@MHorn You're welcome for the post. When I got back home to Hawaii, my school had Tina Seelig out from Stanford presenting on educators as entrepreneurs. It was nice to add a layer to what you presented in your keynote. I'm hoping our school can set aside some space and a small team to push disruptive/innovative teaching and learning practice in a visible and accessible way for the rest of our campus and beyond. Do you know of schools that are doing a nice job combining important elements of conventional school with the most powerful online practices?