Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Disrupting Class

Christensen, C., Horn, M., Johnson, C. (2008). Disrupting Class. New York: McGraw-Hill

“Why haven’t computers brought about a transformation in schools the way the have in other areas of life? “ The authors question really is the basis for many of the theories and ideas brought forth in this book. The computer only been used as another tool or station but has not made teaching or learning advance in any significant direction. The text also theorizes about how new technologies should be customized to fit students various learning needs through software and hardware.

Disruptive innovation is also a major discussion and how it applies to the public education system. This is a process in which companies create products that may already exist but they tweak them to fit to consumers who are not yet buying into the market. The process works so well because it begins to offer choice to consumers whom otherwise would have non other. The book discusses how to connect this idea with the current educational system and what the roles of teachers, administrators, and districts would ultimately become.

Another main topic discussed is how changing the role of technology can affect public schools. The theory is that technology will replace the monolithic methods of teaching with computer-based and student-centric learning. Assessments will come from the amount of material a student understands and covers at their own pace and learning style, not on standardized assessment. The teacher will then be able to facilitate rather then dictate lessons, spend more one on one time with students, and manage a larger number of students within the classroom.

With the current budget crisis on hand and no end is sight the idea of this student-centric technology sounds wonderful and intriguing. I think that the authors have many valid points and that they show useful tools to begin this reform effort within our public education system.

We know that students learn better at heir own pace and style but I didn’t see any hard evidence that his disruptive innovation will take over our schools any time soon and relieve the situation of individualizing a students education.

One idea I really thought was concrete in the book was the thought of power and separation. We can begin to customize leaning for students through other roles and means if not through the immediate means of disruptive innovation. For example: by using charters, schools within schools, inter-district transfers (with out the hassle of fighting over student attendance and monies lost), students can have a choice of what school to attend according to their own needs, necessities, and interests.

What also came to mind while reading the text was how long and hard people have been fighting against the traditional system and how unwilling they are to change it. A business would have never succeeded under the same plan that schools operate under. Students, parents and communities need to continue to support the demand for innovating schools and ideas as we are beginning to see a shift in the system. Students are reaching their goals through online classes in areas that their district fails to offer because of budget, size, need, etc. No one is saying eradicate the traditional school structure entirely but be open to new ideas and concepts that might actually improve student learning and intelligence (refer to the quote by Gardner below] at the same time, what a concept that would be.

What is unique about public schools is that laws and regulations make them a virtual monopoly, which makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for new business models to compete on new measures. (51)

How Gardner defines intelligence:
The ability to solve problems that one encounters in real life.
The ability to generate new problems to solve.
The ability to make something or offer a service valued within the community. (25)

Schools use computers as a tool and a topic, not as a primary instructional mechanism that helps students learn in ways that are customized to their type of intelligence. (81)

We estimate that at least 80 percent of the typical teacher’s time is now spent in monolithic activity preparing to teach, actually teaching, and testing an entire class. Far less than 20 percent is available to help students individually. (111) Aaaah! Break that own between thirty students and individualism is virtually obsolete!

“At every crossway on the road that leads to the future each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past.” (112) I love this quote!

Innovative charter schools could answer a problem that districts have left unaddressed-finding school models that fit particular students’ circumstances. (210)

If this type of student-centric learning does become available what does it do to the socialization of the classroom and student interactions with the teacher?

Wouldn’t a large gap of inequality exist within districts that can’t afford the new student-centric technology as soon as others?

How would this technology affect teachers who are veterans and don’t have extensive technological training?

The problem now is that textbooks and software programs are already selected by “certain” learning types of individuals, would this be the same process for selecting student-centric learning modules?

1 comment:

Michael B. Horn said...

This is a good and comprehensive post/review of our book! Thanks and well done. One thing -- the online learning disruption is actually growing quite fast, although you're right, it won't "take over" tomorrow by any means. That said, check out iNACOL and other sites -- the Alliance for Excellent Education's paper on this for example -- to see how fast it is growing and how much it is doing. Or check out innosightinstitute.org and our blog there.

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