Disrupting Class:

How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns
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Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, & Curtis Johnson


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Chapter 1

Why Schools Struggle to Teach Differently When Each Student Learns Differently

Summary - Students each learn in different ways and at different speeds. Schools are designed for standardized learning. There is a disconnect that computers can address, starting at the margins.
Notes & Quotes
Thoughts, Questions, & Connections DisruptingClassDisruptingClassDisruptingClassDisruptingClass
  • The authors' seem to agree with Gardener's view of multiple intelligences. "Gardner's research shows that although most people have some capacity in each of the eight intelligences, most people excel in only two or three of them. His research, while implying the need for opportunities that line up with individual strengths, also cautions against pigeonholing people and not developing all their intelligences." p.28
  • Teachers will tend to teach to their two or three preferred intelligences. p.36
  • When should students learn using their strengths and when should they learn to strengthen their other intelligences?
  • When does the class work to meet the student and when does the student work to meet the class?
  • "When an educational approach is well-aligned with one's stronger intelligences or aptitudes, understanding can come more easily and with greater enthusiasm. Put differently, the learning can be intrinsically motivating." p.27
  • How far can you get without intrinsic motivation?
  • Are they assuming that intrinsic motivation only comes from alignment with ones intelligences or aptitudes? I hope not. Most students seem to feel that when learning something they value or find interesting.
  • "In addition, these differences in intelligences are only one dimension of cognitive ability. Within each each type of intelligence there are different learning styles. ... Finally, nested within each learning style, there is a third dimension of difference. People learn at different paces–slow, medium, fast, and all the variations within." p.28
  • Different paces is obvious, though sometimes the desired pace doesn't match the most efficient pace.
  • Their definition of learning styles is very weak.
  • "Because schools place students in groups, when a class was ready to move on to a new concept, all students moved on, regardless of how many had mastered the previous concept (even though it might have been a prerequisite for understanding what came next)." p.28
  • "A product's design is interdependent if the way one component is designed and made depends on the way other components are designed and made–and vice versa." p. 29
  • "By contrast, in a modular product design, there are no unpredictable interdependencies in the design of the product's components or stages of the value chain. Modular components fit and work together in well-understood, crisply codified ways."" p.30
  • "When someone changes one piece in a product that has an interdependent architecture, necessity requires complementary changes in other pieces." p.31
  • "Modular architecture optimizes flexibility." p.31
  • Developing a scope and sequence seem to be an attempt to modularize objectives.
  • Modular architectures
  • This makes it difficult for teachers to customize their teaching. It also requires more teamwork.
  • Schools are highly interdependent with temporal, lateral, physical, and hierarchical interdependencies. These interdependencies make it expensive to create custom solutions. p.33
  • This is why they don't have much hope for the current K-12 education system as it currently exists.
  • "For a very long time there will be some issues, skills, and subjects that the traditional model will handle best. But one by one, the instructional jobs that teachers now shoulder are destined, as we will show, to migrate toward a student-centric model." p.38
  • If modular components are created and then used by many students, doesn't that mean that standardization still exists, just that the audience is in different locations or using it at different times?
  • Computer-based learning is a disruptive force that will lead to customization for a small percentage of learning at first, but begin growing significantly within the next decade.

Related Questions:
  • How do we build differentiation into our existing lessons and projects?
  • How do we create truly individualized instruction?
  • How does this relate to special ed and gifted instruction? If the authors statement is accurate that special education can take a third of a district's spending (for only 10% of its students), then this customization is occurring. But, as a consequence, standardization is increased for everyone else.
  • When is whole class instruction the best option? When is small group instruction the best option? When individualized?
  • How does this relate to pretesting?
  • How does this connect to online learning resources?

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Chapter 2

Making the Shift: Schools Meet Society's Needs
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Chapter 3

Crammed Classroom Computers
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Chapter 4

Disruptively Deploying Computers

Chapter 5

The System for Student-Centric Learning

Chapter 6

The Impact of the Earliest Years on Students' Success

Chapter 7

Improving Education Research

Chapter 8

Forging a Consensus for Change

Chapter 9

Giving Schools the Right Structure to Innovate


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