Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation is a term that was originally coined in 1995 in the field of business administration by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. It refers to the process by which a service or product initially thrives at the bottom end of the market by providing a lower cost product that can fill unfulfilled demand, and then is sought after and disperses throughout market, eventually displacing the established providers of the service or product. The idea of disruptive innovation has since been applied to fields beyond business and industry, such as education and academia, communication and healthcare. Disruptive innovation is important because it introduces and democratizes new technologies and services, making what was previously only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill available to a wide segment of society.

Innovation, especially through the use of technology, is a catalyst for change in the educational field. Technology on one hand can make education tasks easier, more approachable and more effective, and on the other hand give unprecedented access to education and allow for new educational activities and new forms of learning. I would say that the DLL program we are in is an example of disruptive innovation in technology. The internet and the use of LMS have allowed anyone anywhere to be a part of this graduate level program. Some of us may live in cities or towns that do not have graduate level university programs available, and may not have  the ability or means to move to another city for two years to attend a traditional graduate program. We are able to conduct our coursework through Blackboard; we communicate using Blackboard, Facebook, Twitter and Adobe Connect; and we are using tools like ePortfolio to present and share our work with others.

On a related note, I think LMS systems themselves may be set for disruptive innovation in their own industry. Proprietary systems like Blackboard prove to be too costly, complicated and require more technical skill to be compatible with K-12 education. K-12 has lagged significantly and been underserved in terms of LMS when compared to higher education. Free and open source options like Google Classroom and Moodle have been implemented in the past several years to serve the K-12 segments of the education field, and it is possible that they will influence and disrupt the providers of LMS for higher education as well.

Blended learning is an educational model that combines online learning with traditional classroom methods. In my experience in K-12 education, I would say that there is a misplacement of focus by acquiring the latest showpiece technology and an overemphasis of the technology aspect of innovating learning. This past school year my district purchased a 70” touchscreen display for every classroom; “I really want a giant television in my room”... said no teacher ever. While I did use a SmartBoard for many years, many boards went unused in the school, and there was not much demand for the touch displays. We also received no support from our curriculum departments in how to actually implement the use of these devices into our lesson planning with activities that supported our curriculum.

I would have much rather have seen the money invested in a 1:1 device program for the district. The plan was to replace our shared laptop carts with 8 devices for each teacher, but at about a 3:1 student to device ratio this would be effectively useless for the type of activities I think we need to do. Also with the introduction of online tools like Google Suite for Education, there was not much discussion of content specific professional development for implementing the use of these tools within our curriculum; teachers and students would eventually learn how to operate new devices and but they are not trained in how to teach and learn using the new tools available to them. These are the topics I am planning on addressing in my innovation plan, specifically addressing the introduction of new technology with grade, content and curriculum specific professional development.


Christensen, C., Horn, M., Soares, L., & Caldera, L. (2011, February 08). Disrupting College. Center for American Progress. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.americanprogress .org/issues/economy/reports/2011/02/08/9034/disrupting-college/

Christensen, C., Raynor, M., & McDonald, R. (2016, December 19). What Is Disruptive Innovation? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved January 20, 2018, from https://hbr.org/2015/12/what-is -disruptive-innovation

Disruptive Innovation. (2012, October 23). Clayton Christensen. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

Horn, M. (2014, July 02). Disruptive Innovation And Education. Forbes. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2014/07/02/disruptive-innovation-and- education/#301bdd553c6e


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