Disruptive technology in education, Part II

Whereas my first post fixated on the role of MOOC’s and the transformative power of the internet, in this post I hope to step away from MOOC’s in order to focus on a disruptive technology that I am excited to see finding its way into digital learning.

It has to be fun. It has to be relevant.

To set the stage for the next wave of educational technology that I see coming, it’s useful to start with a baseline of where we are now. Let’s start with two essential pieces of why educational technology is attractive to use in our classrooms: technology is relevant in students’ lives and it offers a capacity to offer immediate feedback. In fact, when Margaret and I started LinguaZone.com almost seven years ago, these were two of the driving forces that fueled our interest in creating customizable language games. (The site has expanded in its scope a bit since then, but the central focus of the educational games certainly starts here.)

Relevance: Teaching tools like LinguaZone connect with students where they are. They offer a fun, relevant way to approach class material. And that is a powerful thing: I believe effective learning needs to happen in a way that is joyful and meaningful to our students.

Immediate feedback: When a student engages with these kinds of tools, they can get feedback on their progress immediately. No waiting for a teacher to collect their work and get it back to them later.

There is much more to say on the value of these two things (and others), but let’s leave it at that for now in order to take a peek further ahead.

Intelligence and learning, human and non-human

The next disruptive technology that I see having a profound impact on our learning is, perhaps ironically, machine learning. Continue reading


MOOC’s & progressive K-12 education

Today I was challenged to have an opinion on how MOOC’s (like those offered by Coursera, EdX, Udacity, etc.) might be a disruptive technology for education in a bricks-and-mortar K-12 independent school. The following rant gathers a few thoughts on disruptive technology, disruptive business, and education.

Let’s say the iPhone doesn’t count.

The printing press was a disruptive technology for the world. The television too. And the internet. Disruptive technologies are a one-way street: these new tools change the landscape beneath our feet, and there’s no going back. Disruptive technologies are transformational in the change they deliver and destructive to the old tools that once held their place.

What about the iPhone? Does that count as a disruptive technology? The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 was disruptive in many ways. It opened the floodgates and changed markets ranging from communications to gaming to photography. It made new markets and triggered unexpected opportunities for innovation. But was the technology itself disruptive? Let’s say, at least for a moment, that it wasn’t.  Continue reading