Light Offerings

What role the early digital adopters in school? A disrupted view.

Posted by jturner56 on November 26, 2012

In  Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator’s Dilemma (see an excellent review at http://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/Fall2000/teradyne/clay.html) several points are made that can help explain how school’s should treat it’s early digital adopters

  1. Sustaining technologies vs Disruptive technologies. In business sustaining means supporting / improving a product that is established. Disruptive are “innovations that can result in worse product performance, at least in the near term” but can prevail because they are generally “cheaper, simpler, smaller and frequently more convenient to use.” In education we are not always clear as to what our ‘product’ is and therefore see in technology ‘solution’ rather than ‘improvement’. We need a deepness of thinking that is not apparent in linear grade outcomes as measures. Processes of teaching and learning need to be aligned to the Is in simpler etc model while also asking is the product produced the bnest we can expect for  a disrupted world.
  2. Large companies have an established base whom they must be accountable to, and this can limit their capacity to innovate. There is hardly a larger ‘company’ than school education as a system. Perhaps this explains in part the conservatism that has dogged technology innovation. But school’s also posses a capacity and responsibility as future providers, and on this basis an school worth it’s place.
  3. Firms need to provide experimental groups within a company a freer rein. Schools need structures to encourage, support early adopters taking on new technologies, backed up by structures to allow integration of what may start and stay as optional, or indeed become part of structural support.
  4. Firms need to be willing to leave room for failure, and should failure occur, learn from such an experience for the next opportunity. School’s need to be given the respect and freedom need to learn constructively from failure from calculated risks. To learn effectively organisations need the same support we expect students need. Leadership by example is as important at the top as on the classroom floor.

To move beyond individual choice schools need clear learning objectives as part of curriculum intent on which to hang new technologies across several levels, from risk taking to primary evaluation, to team exploration, to system acceptance. Such considerations will become natural within any powerful learning organisation. Early adopters can help chart the course just as the early explorers did so many years ago.

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