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System Change Through Disruptive Innovation

Updated: Feb 6, 2018

Edushift is about bringing our educational systems to the student - through disruptive innovation that cares and shares. So, what exactly do we mean by the term “disruptive innovation”? Let’s take a moment to discuss this idea as it relates to Edushift. The concept of disruptive innovation, first introduced by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen, has become popularized to explain how innovation can transform existing systems by replacing complication with convenience. As it relates to educational systems, disruptive innovation is well presented by Christensen et al in the 2011 book Disrupting Class; How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.


Read this book and you will see how the concept of disruptive innovation aligns with the three Edushift premises as follows:


1. Personalization is the new reality facing educational systems


Disruptive innovation provides an answer the “why” for educational system re-design because it is grounded in the concept of personalization of service. In a world of global connectivity, communications and the increasing economization of access to these technologies, disruptive innovation addresses personalization as the catalyst for change that educational systems will increasingly require.


2. Technology is a support, not a solution


Disruptive innovation supports blended learning as a quintessential response to the need for educational personalization. And, while technology has a role to play, disruptive innovation through blended learning recognizes that it is the student to teacher relationship that ultimately promotes success. The application of technology through blended learning is not a panacea unto itself. It is one aspect of what is required to bring the system to the student - instead of continuing to require students to meet the needs of the system.


3. Structure drives behaviour


On first impression, disruptive innovation may seem counterintuitive as an educational system concept. After all, the word “disruptive” isn’t normally associated with the type of progressive support required to motivate and support behavioural change. But the way to interpret the word “disruptive“, in disruptive innovation, is as a pull and adjust concept as opposed to a push and respond action. In other words, system change through disruptive innovation occurs by supporting the momentum growth that happens when increasing numbers of people align with and adopt a new approach.



All of which leads to this final consideration. In adopting the principles of disruptive innovation, we need to work within the structure of our existing educational systems, not in spite of them. Disruptive innovation should not be used as a mantra to discredit the education systems that have served us so well. Yes, there is important work to be done to bring our educational systems to the student. Disruptive innovation provides an opportunity to develop system strategy that is progressive while respecting and supporting the growth needs of everyone involved in education.

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