Thomas Edison Quote

The following exchange occurred in July 1913 between a reporter for The New York Dramatic Mirror and inventor Thomas Edison:

What is your estimation of the future educational value of pictures?” I asked.

“Books,” declared the inventor with decision, “will soon be obsolete in the public schools. Scholars will be instructed through the eye. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years.

I think he may have been a little ahead of his time, but by how much?  I found this very interesting.  I do think we are on the precipice of such a change – he may have been 100 years too early on his prediction.

Disrupting Class – Chapter 4

This post is part of a series where I am posting my notes as I read Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn & Curtis Johnson.

Disruptively Deploying Computers

It is hard to see where student-centric technology has had much of an impact on mainstream education.  Christensen writes that disruptive innovations are first adopted or implemented in markets or areas of non-consumption.  He gives the following examples where we see areas of non-consumption in education – and consequently where we are seeing student-centric technology having it’s greatest impact on education:

  • Advanced Placement Courses
  • Small, rural and urban schools that are unable to offer a breadth of courses
  • credit recovery for students who lag behind in credits
  • home schoolers

Like all disruption, online learning first appears as a blip on the radar, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, the mainstream rapidly adopts it.

Christensen cites two stages of the disruptive transition from teacher-delivered to software delivered instruction:

  1. Computer-based learning:  Software will be proprietary, expensive and monolithic.
  2. Student-centric technology:  Software that will help students learn each subject in a manner that is consistent with their type of intelligence and learning style.

 Factors that will Accelerate Online Learning

  1. computer-based learning will keep improving
  2. ability for students, teachers and parents to select a learning pathway through each body of material that fits each of the types of learners.
  3. looming teacher shortage
  4. costs will fall significantly as the market scales up

Christensen estimates that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be offered online.

You can imagine the 30 year teaching veteran thinking, “yeah, they also said we would be fully converted to the metric system 20 years ago!”  The following is Christensen’s argument that this disruptive innovation will happen:

  1. Due to accountability, schools focus their resources on core subject areas that get tested.
  2. As schools “dis-invest” in the courses less critical to the mandates of the accountability movement, whether NCLB or the new Waivers, schools may stop teaching certain courses.
  3. This will create an area of non-consumption where student-centric technology can be employed.*

* I am already getting a sense of this type of thinking from my conversations with district superintendents.

In Christensen’s words, “Schools should greet these pressures as opportunities to implement a long-range plan to shift the instructional job to student-centric technology step by step and course by course.” (p. 103)

This disruption has the potential to increase teacher pay.

Interesting – on pages 108 – 110 Christensen writes about the experiences of Professor Steve Spears working in both the Chrysler and Toyota plants.  In describing the difference between the training at the two plants, Spears made a statement that reminded me of something I heard Richard DuFour say at a PLC conference.   Spears related that at Chrysler, time was fixed, but the result of the training was variable and unpredictable.  At Toyota, the training time was variable – but the result was fixed – every person that went through the training could predictably do what he had been taught to do.

DuFour talks about the equation in traditional schools (Time + Support = Learning) where time and support are constants and learning is the variable.  He talks about the need to flip that equation where time and support are the variables and learning is the constant.  Interesting parallel.

Christensen summarizes this chapter by stating that if the shift in the learning platform is managed disruptively, it provides the following opportunities:

  1. Students can work in the way that comes naturally for them.
  2. Teachers can be learning leaders with time to pay attention to each student.
  3. School organizations can navigate the impending financial maelstrom without abdicating their mission.

Disrupting Class – Chapter 3

This post is part of a series where I am posting my notes as I read Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn & Curtis Johnson.

Crammed Classroom Computers

Why haven’t computers brought about a transformation in schools the way they have in other areas of life?

  • Schools have employed computers perfectly predictably and perfectly wrong. (Schools have crammed computers into existing teaching and classroom models) – see this post
  • Educators have attempted to use computers to sustain and marginally improve the way they already teach and run their schools.
  • Unless top managers actively manage the process, their organization will shape every disruptive innovation into a sustaining innovation

An organization cannot disrupt itself.  It cannot implement an innovation that does not make economic or cultural sense to itself.

If recordings of Rachmaninoff found a welcome market by not competing directly with the live musician himself, why should people pit the recordings of teachers like Escalante in direct competition with teachers?




Flip the Classroom Mission Statement

This website will be dedicated to teachers, pre-service teachers, administrators, graduate education students and anyone else interested in 21st century education.  This website will cover the topics of (1) teaching using web 2.0 tools, (2) the pedagogical shift necessary to teach using web 2.0 tools, and (3) adjusting the time and support necessary for students to succeed by using digital learning.

I will be adding posts about web 2.0, constructivism and connectivism, and digital learning every day.

I have created this website as a hub for an increasing community of educators interested in 21st century learning.

Disrupting Class – Chapter 2

This post is part of a series where I am posting my notes as I read Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn & Curtis Johnson.

Making the Shift:  Schools Meet Society’s Needs

 Public schools, contrary to public perception, have a steady record of improving on the metrics by which they are judged.

Disruptive Innovation Theory

  • Sustaining Innovation:  Innovations that designed to sustain the performance improvement trajectory in the established market, e.g. faster computer chips, more memory, smaller phones.  A sustaining innovation fits the processes, values, and economic model of the existing business.
  • Disruptive Innovation:  Instead of sustaining the traditional improvement trajectory in the established market, a disruptive innovation creates a product or service that is originally not as good as the established product.  It is cheaper and more available however to non-consumers who don’t care that it is not as good.  As time goes on, disruptive innovation uses sustaining innovations to increase the quality of the product.

Most administrators and most teachers are strongly motivated to improve.

Disrupting Class – Chapter 1

This post is part of a series where I am posting my notes as I read Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn & Curtis Johnson.  

Why Schools Struggle to Teach Differently When Each Student Learns Differently

  • Limited time for individual help
  • Interdependent architecture which mandates standardization

Some research suggests that intelligence is much broader than IQ.

Key Terms:

  • Architecture:  design that determines what its parts are and how they must  interact with each other.
  • Interface:  The place where any two parts fit together.
  • Interdependent Design:  Design type where the way one component is designed and made depends on the way other components are designed and made – and vice versa.
  • Modular Design:  Design type where there are no unpredictable inter-dependencies in the design of the product’s components or stages of the value chain.

In an interdependent architecture, changes of one piece in a product require complementary changes in other pieces – customization becomes complicated and expensive.

Modular architecture optimizes flexibility – this allows for easy customization.

A monolithic batch process with all of its interdependencies is at one end of a spectrum, and a student-centric model that is completely modular is at the other.

The instructional jobs that teachers now shoulder are destined to migrate toward a student-centric model – how will this happen?

  • Computer-based learning
  • Modularizing the system by customizing learning.
  • Matching intelligence-types, places & paces by combining content in customized sequences.