So Far, Education Technology Remains a "Sustaining" Disruption

Blended Learning

So Far, Education Technology Remains a "Sustaining" Disruption

May 26, 2013

HYBRID THEORY: The Institute formerly known as Innosight (now called the Clayton Christen Institute for Disruptive Innovation) has been a pioneer in defining the blended learning terminology over the years. Now it's published a fourth report, which asks in the title, "Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive?" The short answer, so far, appears to be: sort of.

Citing historical precedents from other industries for comparison, the authors argue that the rotation models currently in place in many schools (where students switch between online and face-to-face learning on a fixed schedule) suggest that technology has so far been a sustaining (as opposed to disruptive) innovation that improves existing products and practices without completely replacing them. Full disruption, they argue, would be models that break away from mandated seat time and allow for "individually customized, fluid schedule[s] among learning modalities" (namely Flex, A La Carte and Enriched Virtual).

The authors are careful, however, to dispel the notion that "disruptive innovations are good and sustaining innovations are bad." They admit that, for the time being, the sustaining innovation path is realistically "the best fit for most classroom teachers," given budgetary and administrative constraints.

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