30 Examples Of Disruption In The Classroom

flickeringbrad-def-of-disruption-in-classroom30 Examples Of Disruption In The Classroom

by Terry Heick

This post is actually intended to supplement the “Cycle of Learning Innovation” we recently published, which means this is less about analysis and context and more about the examples. First, some quick clarification so that we have a common language.

In short, by “disruption,” we are referring to something that causes the kind of impact that leads to change. To push it further, one definition of disruption might be a bottom-up cause that substantially affects the ecology it is a part of (e.g., perception, market advantages, resource needs, usage patterns, etc.), forcing redistribution (e.g., market, demographic spread, revenue, credibility, knowledge) of something else we collectively value.

Or put even more simply, “a bottom-up cause that substantially affects the ecology it is a part of, forcing reconfiguration of that system, and recreation and redistribution of currencies within that system.

The Innovator’s Dilemma

This leads to the “innovator’s dilemma,” described recently in The Economist as “the difficult choice an established company faces when it has to choose between holding onto an existing market by doing the same thing a bit better, or capturing new markets by embracing new technologies and adopting new business models.” The article goes on to point out some examples of this kind of dilemma, and how certain businesses responded.

“IBM dealt with this dilemma by launching a new business unit to make PCs, while continuing to make mainframe computers. Netflix took a more radical move, switching away from its old business model (sending out rental DVDs by post) to a new one (streaming on-demand video to its customers). Disruptive innovations usually find their first customers at the bottom of the market: as unproved, often unpolished, products, they cannot command a high price. Incumbents are often complacent, slow to recognize the threat that their inferior competitors pose. But as successive refinements improve them to the point that they start to steal customers, they may end up reshaping entire industries: classified ads (Craigslist), long distance calls (Skype), record stores (iTunes), research libraries (Google), local stores (eBay), taxis (Uber) and newspapers (Twitter).”

What are some examples of disruptions in the classroom, then? Not necessarily initially innovations, but factors (value neutral–neither good nor bad in and of themselves) that can lead to innovation? I’ve listed some examples of disruption in education below, and ranked them (though obviously the ranking is entirely subjective and only useful as a crude reference point to start your own thinking). For the #1 disruption in education, I’ve actually summarized the disruptor and its effect as an example, though for the rest, I only include the disruption itself for most of the rest.

30 Examples Of Disruption In The Classroom 

  1. The ubiquity of Google search and its impact on curriculum knowledge demands
  2. Common Core standards (this one’s not sexy, but few factors impact public education in the United States in 2015 more than this index of academic content)
  3. Planned obsolescence of mobile technology
  4. 1:1 as a standard rather than a luxury
  5. Rising cost of universities
  6. Change in cultural perception of identity–gender, technology, science, faith, sexuality, etc.
  7. Change in credibility of a high school diploma or college degree
  8. Increasingly formal use of social media by education institutions
  9. Maker Movement
  10. General insecurity or misunderstanding about how to meaningfully integrate technology in the classroom
  11. Relative “normalizing” of computer coding
  12. Falling cost of mobile devices, which impacts what’s affordable, who shows up to school with what on their own, school budgets, etc.
  13. The increasing potential to “start a business” that is entirely social and digital (which impacts the idea of a “job,” for example)
  14. Adaptive learning platforms and learning algorithms
  15. Rapid change in the demands for media forms (e.g., text to infographics to eCards to podcasts)
  16. Ease of publishing (e.g., blogs, social media, podcasting) to promote conversation and thinking around what’s possible in education
  17. The general success of Google as a platform model (Classroom, Music, YouTube, Search, Chromebooks, Chrome OS, etc.)
  18. Narrowed (overly-narrow?) metrics of “school success” which causes parents to question how learning effectiveness is measured (see also #20).
  19. The relative shrinking marketshare of iPads, as well as some very visible failure of iPad rollouts
  20. Education documentaries on Netflix (such as “Waiting for Superman”), which brings the “Ed reform” conversation to a broader audience
  21. 3D Printing (this one should be higher–likely will be in five years–but we’re just not there yet)
  22. New demands for digital citizenship
  23. District-level BYOD programs
  24. The adoption of blended learning approaches through learning management systems
  25. Highly variable quality of “learning apps,” which causes some app developers to “backwards plan” from the what a teacher or school will find credible; it also which causes some teachers to change their definition of what “effective” means, while others respond by calling for standards on measuring that effectiveness.
  26. Robotics in the classroom
  27. Social credibility of alternative school models (Walden, Montessori, Homeschooling, etc.)
  28. MOOCs, nanodegrees, etc.
  29. Relative crudeness of most school and district IT performance (Wi-Fi, bandwidth, district filters, repairs, regulations, workflow, etc.) which can reduce the demand for innovative technology by teachers already hesitant to adopt meaningful education technology
  30. The difference between the success of a school and the success of its most needful students

30 Examples Of Disruption In The Classroom; image attribution flickeringbrad