What is Disruptive Innovation?

Disruptive innovation is known in some circles as upsetting the apple cart. Disruptive innovation is geared towards attacking the norm, creating innovative ways to achieve or surpass current goals by making the desired item more accessible and attainable by the masses. Disruptive innovation is not something that starts out in a large, mass production style, but more of a small market where it grows and flourishes until the larger market takes notice. It is that time when the apple cart is upset and innovation booms.

I am currently a student in the M.Ed. Instructional Technology program at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. Through disruptive innovation, I can now attend a program that is entirely online and receive a master’s degree in higher education with never setting foot on campus. This allows me to maintain a full-time job while achieving a graduate degree in the same time frame as a traditional student who attends courses on campus.

While pursuing my first degree in the 1990’s, we had only a few courses available online. Now many schools have programs in areas such as Business, Criminology, and Nursing that are offered through their online programs.

It is through disruptive innovation that students can matriculate from fully accredited colleges and universities by attending online courses. As little as 10 years ago, this would not have been possible. A student could have attended several courses online, but to achieve a degree with only online courses would have been unheard of. However, the ground work for this kind of study was laid in the 1990’s with a few distance courses or online availability.

Ways to Use Disruptive Learning in the Classroom

The possibilities are endless in regards to what a teacher/instructor/professor can use when it comes to disruptive learning in the classroom. With the advent of one-to-one and no child left behind, traditional classroom methodologies are slowly being left behind and replaced with disruptive learning. Students as early as second and third grade are being introduced to technology in education. Students in fourth and fifth grade are learning basic coding techniques. While students in eighth grade and higher are building and coding robots for national competitions. I personally did not write my first line of code in school until my junior year of high school, and our robot could not make left hand turns. If we wanted him to turn left, we had to make him turn right 3 times. My high school son competed in a national robotics competition during his sophomore year of high school.

One way that teachers are using disruptive technology is the delivery method of their lecture materials. In a traditional classroom setting, a student will show up to class, listen to the lecture, takes notes, and be expected to remember everything that was discussed. With a classroom that is using disruptive learning, whether it is a traditional class or online/hybrid course, the instructor could provide a video of the lecture prior to the class meeting allowing the student to view the material in advance. The instructor can they require a post video quiz that questions the students on the material presented. Prior to the class time, the instructor can review the results of the quiz and tailor the lecture so that it covers the material missed by the majority of the students, thus allowing more discussion and coverage of material that the students are having difficulty with and less time with material that they have mastered. This allows the instructor to make the class more engaging and allows the students to ask more questions about the harder material, leading to a better understanding.

How to Implement Disruptive Learning to Personalize Learning

Anyone who has been in education, either as an educator or as a student, knows that not all students learn the same way. The use of disruptive learning can assist an instructor in overcoming some of the challenges presented by different learning styles.

Gamification is a method that can be used in a multitude of ways to teach concepts to students. Minecraft is being used to teach mathematical concepts, architectural concepts, and even symbolism in literature. The students of today and tomorrow are technology learners first, academics second.

Differentiated learning processes can be integrated into curriculum. For example, in a high school-level chemistry class, the teacher can present the materials in online in video format, quiz the students on the material, and then implement lab exercises based on the results of the quiz. Students who show a mastery of the material can be given an advanced lab exercise designed to challenge them. Students who do not show a mastery of the material can be given a less complex lab in order to increase their understanding and their mastery of the material.

Microsoft Teams is a new tool that allows teachers to create individual exercises for students and communicate privately with individual students or the classroom as a whole. It has the ability to track performance in real time, and it is free for education.

Disruptive innovation is changing education and the way that we are reaching our students.