Disrupting Class: Chapter 3: Crammed Classroom Computers

disrupting-class

Summary:

The continuation of the beginning-of-the-chapters case reflects on how little schools have changed, despite massive technological and social shifts. Why do digital natives experience the same kind of teaching that their parents had at their age? Why has having computers in the classroom not changed the way schools work? The answer: Schools use computers as a sustaining innovation rather than a disruptive one. They try to make new technology work within their existing model, essentially competing against teachers, instead of competing against nonconsumption. The authors call this “cramming,” hence the chapter title: We cram computers into classrooms and use them within existing structures. This results in slow, expensive, and marginal improvement–students use computers to do more or less the same things students have always done.  Continue reading “Disrupting Class: Chapter 3: Crammed Classroom Computers”

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Disrupting Class: Chapter 2: Making the Shift: Schools Meet Society’s Needs

disrupting-class

Summary:

The case at the beginning of this chapter centers on the Chemistry teacher, Mr. Alvera, and his reflections about how school has changed since he first started teaching. As he increasingly hears comments about achievement, he wonders, “When did society start expecting schools to ensure achievement and not merely access to education?”

This chapter introduces the theory of disruptive innovation and begins to apply it to schools. In the business world, “disruptive innovations” contrast with “sustaining innovations.” Big companies generally (and rightly) try to improve the products they make for their best customers in order to make better profits by meeting these high-paying customer’s needs. This kind of innovation is a sustaining innovation. A disruptive innovation, on the other hand, does not serve current customers, but caters to “nonconsumers”–people who don’t have access to or use for the high-end products. Companies engaged in sustaining innovation generally don’t try to compete with disruptive innovations because their current clients don’t need what is being offered by these smaller companies. However, as disruptive innovations improve as they continue to do business with previous nonconsumers, they eventually become capable of doing many of the things the sustaining companies’ products could do. Continue reading “Disrupting Class: Chapter 2: Making the Shift: Schools Meet Society’s Needs”