13 Comments

Summary:

A new study from disruptive economics guru Clayton Christensen’s think tank gives more clarity into how online learning could shape the future of education.

teacher classroom

When you first hear disruptive economics guru Clayton Christensen’s prediction that by 2019 half of all K-12 classes will be taught online, it’s easy to wonder if brick-and-mortar schools as we know them are on their way out.

But a new study released Thursday from his think tank, the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, depicts a future of education, particularly at the elementary school level, that isn’t nearly as stark as that. The paper, which refines theories on blended learning Christensen and his colleagues have laid out in the book “Disrupting Class” and other studies, introduces the idea of hybrid innovation. While Christensen’s famous theory of innovation mostly focuses on disruptive and sustaining innovations, the new paper offers the concept of the hybrid.

Often, the researchers argue, sectors experiencing disruption go through an extended phase in which old and new technology exist side by side, providing “the best of both worlds.” In education, many approaches to blended learning, which combine online instruction with traditional classroom learning, fall into this hybrid category.

“What’s clear to us from this theory is that schools will be here for the long haul,” said Michael Horn, executive director of the Institute, a co-author of the paper, as well as a co-author of “Disrupting Class.” “The future of learning is blended learning for the majority of students.”

In particular, he said, elementary schools will increasingly adopt less disruptive styles of blended learning that rotate online learning activities into a student’s schedule but still maintain the basic structure of a traditional teacher-led classroom. For example, schools will continue to “flip” their classrooms with videos (from Khan Academy or other sources) students can watch online, but mostly rely on classroom teachers to shape the experience.

At the middle school and high school levels, where students tend to have more personalized, modular schedules, he said, the school setting will remain in place but the classroom structure will be upended. In those grades, educators will increasingly adopt more disruptive blended learning models.

For example, students looking for more advanced subjects or languages not offered at their school could supplement their in-school experience with online classes – even massive open online courses – that barely involve offline instruction.

Horn said that one of his hopes for this most recent paper is that it helps give educators some clarity around what they can and can’t do to drive innovation in their classrooms and schools.

While superintendents, principals with some autonomy and a healthy budget, as well as philanthropists may be able to introduce more disruptive online learning models into their classrooms, Horn said, the most individual teachers and those with more limited budgets could likely do is encourage hybrid approaches.

“For the first time, it gave us a much clearer idea of what people in education could or could not do to bring about this future,” he said.

  1. I certainly recommend Online studies for mature College or University level students, but online education may not be suitable for high school level students, they often lack self discipline which is the Cornerstone of online study,

    Share
    1. We often talk about discipline referring to children at the high school level as if the adults don’t require disciplining. In fact there are many more disciplinary rules after one becomes an adult than a being a high school kid. We have rules and regulations in all areas and even have weekly reviews and a 24-7 video camera virtual or physical monitoring what we do. It is ignorance to speak of discipline relating to children, when the classroom teachers have burdened the system with meaningless archaic models of learning.

      How do we even convince students that closed book examinations reflect the real world? When was the last time we had to deliver a project based on closed books in 3 hours, let alone execute projects back to back in a few days.

      The system currently is filled with self-esteem damaging components such as grading people on all subjects they take not knowing what passion and interests students have holing them into classes they don’t wish to be to follow what some grandfather rule stipulates.

      Skills need to be tested and it doesn’t mean they have to write it as a single person. Then we turn around and want them to be team oriented when all along they have been graded on a “Individual” basis?

      Just sharing the scenario of a system that doesn’t customize itself and creates lot of chaos, than structure.

      Share
  2. Online learning has many sophisticated comparative advantages over traditional methods,
    I certainly recommend online studies for mature College or University level students, but online education may not be suitable for high school level students, as they often lack self- discipline which is the cornerstone of an online education.

    Yet, the quality of an online education depends on its unique technological features and how well they are implemented. Online teaching could take full advantage of internet technology as its main-tool for distribution and communication between students and the faculty, as such, the quality of e-Teaching over a traditional method could be dramatically improved through:

    A) Direct Online Communication Between the Faculty and Students: Online learning could more interactive with the faculty members from around the world, through the use of virtual classroom, live video lecture sessions, video link, and more direct communication with the top level instructors, these tools certainly make the learning process “LIVE” and more interactive with the world-class instructors from around the world, such capabilities are not available in traditional methods.

    B) World-Class Standardization of Learning Material: Unlike traditional methods in which a university relies on the expertise of its own local faculty members, whom may or may not be the best in their academic fields, an online university need not to design its own learning material, instead, it could use the best learning materials available in the world. as such, the best learning methodology and materials designed by the best lecturers in the world could be purchased and distributed to online students.
    For instance: If a professor is known to be the best in a subject, who has published learning material that is deemed to be the best in the world for online teaching of that subject, that methodology “ the Package” could be purchased for the use by other online institutions, hence, the World-Class Standardization of learning material and methodology could be achieved by the online distribution of learning materials – an easy way to match the academic level of an online university to the top universities from around the world regardless where they are located.

    Online learning has many sophisticated comparative advantages over traditional methods, yet, the quality of e-Teaching depends on the proper implementation of the e-Learning technological advantages. as such, the success of online learning depends on its virtual learning tools and how well they are implemented.

    Ali Besharati,
    An Athabasca University Alumni,

    Share
  3. Ali Besharati Saturday, May 25, 2013

    Online learning has many sophisticated comparative advantages over traditional methods,
    I certainly recommend online studies for mature College or University level students, but online education may not be suitable for high school level students, as they often lack self- discipline which is the cornerstone of an online education.

    Yet, the quality of an online education depends on its unique technological features and how well they are implemented. Online teaching could take full advantage of internet technology as its main-tool for distribution and communication between students and the faculty, as such, the quality of e-Teaching over a traditional method could be dramatically improved through:

    A) Direct Online Communication Between the Faculty and Students: Online learning could be more interactive with the faculty members from around the world, through the use of virtual classroom, live video lecture sessions, video link, and more direct communication with the top level instructors, these tools certainly make the learning process “LIVE” and more interactive with the world-class instructors from around the world, such capabilities are not available in traditional methods.

    B) World-Class Standardization of Learning Material: Unlike traditional methods in which a university relies on the expertise of its own local faculty members, whom may or may not be the best in their academic fields, an online university need not to design its own learning material, instead, it could use the best learning materials available in the world. as such, the best learning methodology and materials designed by the best lecturers in the world could be purchased and distributed to online students.
    For instance: If a professor is known to be the best in a subject, who has published learning material that is deemed to be the best in the world for online teaching of that subject, that methodology “ the Package” could be purchased for the use by other online institutions, hence, the World-Class Standardization of learning material and methodology could be achieved by the online distribution of learning materials – an easy way to match the academic level of an online university to the top universities from around the world regardless where they are located.

    Online learning has many sophisticated comparative advantages over traditional methods, yet, the quality of e-Teaching depends on the proper implementation of the e-Learning technological advantages. as such, the success of online learning depends on its virtual learning tools and how well they are implemented.

    Ali Besharati,
    An Athabasca University Alumni,

    Share
  4. Carl Hartman Saturday, May 25, 2013

    About 20 years ago we designed the first accredited online high school courseware in the the country. That eventually was turned into class.com based on the Independent Study High School at the University of Nebraska which had been around since the 1930′s, used by children of diplomats, actors, etc. – Anything now is built on that original DoE Stars Schools project we did. – The courses were and are far ahead of their time. We designed game-like interactions and story-world courses that are still advanced over anything I have seen done to-date. We created new constructs and uses for technology in teaching that were based on UNL’s research and nationally recognized leadership in the use of video disk technology in education. We did the educational research on many educational games, such as Oregon Trail. We were flipping classrooms long ago. We were creating educational projects that enabled kids with ADD/HD succeed and excel in electronic classrooms when traditional methods failed. When I left UNL and NETV I eventually started a company to take the constructs we used there to be used in education, marketing and entertainment. The things we developed there, still haven’t been touched on a creative or educational level.

    Share
  5. Marketing Elements Saturday, May 25, 2013

    The prospect of hybrid methods is what is promising for K-12 ed. Who says kids need to sit in a classroom 5 days a week. How about 2.5 days of traditional lectures and activities and the remaining time in small (maybe location-based) group or individual learning. this could help address the issue of school overcrowding especially if the schedules were staggered. Resources could be stretched further and partnerships with other institutions such as public libraries, universities, non profit organizations, social enterprises and maybe even (limitedly) corporations would help facilitate the delivery of education.

    There is infrastructure in place. With all of these technological tools and a little creative thinking, we could really improve K-12 education. Who says learning has to take place inside the classroom. The world is your classroom

    Share
    1. Rashmi Prakash Tuesday, May 28, 2013

      How about 6 days Marketing Elements? The world is a classroom and sure enough all of us are geniuses here.

      Share
  6. Ramin Shokrizade Saturday, May 25, 2013

    It sounds like this group is coming to similar findings to what I predicted in 2010 in my “Third Tier of Game Development” paper: http://gameful.org/group/games-for-change/forum/topics/third-tier-of-game-development

    My predictions anticipated a lot more gamification being implemented into online courses. It will be interesting to see who comes closest to what will actually occur.

    Share
  7. Eddie Dickey Sunday, May 26, 2013

    Kindergarten is where we are socialized in the Western World. IMHO that is why we show up for Kindergarten.

    Share
  8. The constraint is not whether professors from all over the world are more qualified than on, or other aspects of online learning related to logistics. The bottleneck is the system of education and if we impart the same system of qualifying students as in passing examinations to get ahead in life and then again have them take more examinations such as GRE, TOEFL, TSE, SAT, JEE, AIEEE (list keeps on increasing), it ignores the fact that there is no correlation between the scores achieved on these tests and the performance of students in their life skills.

    Practical projects combining the knowledge from these online programs (which are superior to the ones available in class) giving the students a taste of how the real word is – what you have termed as hybrid model would be something of value for the students when they venture out of school into college or any type of employment.

    Share
  9. Rashmi Prakash Monday, May 27, 2013

    I guess that’s why Education Reform will actually see the BOX before it even tries to dust off the old mites. What do we say to such innovation which simply brings in more Coldness to the classroom than a teacher-to-student network in person. Don’t we enough of virtual classrooms,board meetings,conferences etc etc that survive through the www platform.
    K-12 is the fundamental brick that holds the weight of future generation and as it is, we do see the current generation w/o this futuristic idea of tech-classroom infecting their regular learning styles as they are seen immersed in a gravy of their extravagant gadgets that rule their minds and attention span 24/7.
    However, open classroom for students who wish to seek credits early on in their career is in some places a functional tool. Should be beneficial for kids after 12th and beyond.
    Please leave the kids alone in K-12!!

    Share
  10. Kent Harris Tuesday, May 28, 2013

    If we can find/recruit/keep qualified teachers in K-12, Khan style ‘flipped classrooms’ would seem the future for knowledge based subjects. Few seem to see critical ‘skill based’ subjects like reading writing and arithmetic must be ‘mastered’ (at least at grade level) for the child to have a chance at success in school or in life.

    Personalized learning gained some attention early on but seems to have been replaced by ‘blended’ learning, apparently to keep traditional classrooms in the mix. Few seem to see the potential for ‘interactive’ automation as it’s ability to quickly read and react to each students learning weaknesses (and strengths), adjusting each lesson’s starting point, pace, content, even style, to keep each student engaged and progressing at their best rate.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post