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Techno-Transformation: Is it Working?

Techno-Transformation: Is it Working?

Technology is on the brink of transforming education, argue Clayton M. Christensen of Harvard Business School and Michael B. Horn of Innosight Institute, authors of Disrupting Class, in Education Next. So far, the $60 billion investment in education technology has been used to support the status quo, they write.

Computers do not deliver instruction. The teacher is still at the center of the classroom. And research shows that students who have access to computers in school don’t necessarily perform better on standardized exams.

An organization’s natural instinct is to cram the innovation into its existing operating model to sustain what it already does.

Instead, they advocate “disruptive innovation,” creating products for non-consumers that eventually will change the whole market. In this case, that means computer-based learning for students who can’t get the courses they want in school or aren’t in school.

Students who want AP classes not offered by their schools are turning to online classes. So are failing students who need remedial coursework and “credit recovery” to earn a diploma. Students in rural schools want more choices than their small schools can offer. Home-schooled and homebound students also are turning to computer-based learning. More than twenty-five states now offer web-based courses, they write. Demand is expanding rapidly.

The data suggest that in about six years 10 percent of all courses will be computer-based, and by 2019 about 50 percent of courses will be delivered online.

Computer-based learning is cheaper than traditional classroom teaching. It can be customized to meet different students’ needs.

Pitting computer-based learning directly against teachers or continuing to cram it into schools will not work.

Technology will provide value in out-of-school settings before it develops the strength and sophistication to “disrupt” traditional classroom teaching, they argue.


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