Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why Does Everyone Think They Can Lie To Educators about "Disruptive Innovation?"

Jason Tomassini:

In the case of "disruption," both Horn and Christensen, who is profiled in an excellent recent New Yorker article, point out there is a specific definition: technology that offers an affordable, efficient alternative to an expensive, unwieldy one. There is legitimate debate over whether something like digital textbooks is disruptive; the same isn't true of your average charter school.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Let's just look at the excellent New Yorker article:

In industry after industry, Christensen discovered, the new technologies that had brought the big, established companies to their knees weren’t better or more advanced—they were actually worse. The new products were low-end, dumb, shoddy, and in almost every way inferior. But the new products were usually cheaper and easier to use, and so people or companies who were not rich or sophisticated enough for the old ones started buying the new ones, and there were so many more of the regular people than there were of the rich, sophisticated people that the companies making the new products prospered. Christensen called these low-end products “disruptive technologies,” because, rather than sustaining technological progress toward better performance, they disrupted it.

See the difference? You can, I might add, make a good case that the Khan Academy does fit the second definition vis a vis traditional educational publishing or teaching (but not education as a consumer product).

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