The week that was

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Oct 30, 2008

I had planned originally to blog again about higher education, but this has been a busy few days of activity around the book and its themes so I thought it would be worthwhile posting some links to the various events and presentations and offering a few brief reflections.

Clay and I gave a presentation at the American Enterprise Institute along with Jason Hwang on the 27th titled “Disruptive Innovation in Education and Health Care” (video and audio are online here). Checker Finn was on the education panel with us as well which made for a lively discussion.  Education Week’s Andrew Trotter wrote an article about the event as well.

The next day I was in Arizona where I had the opportunity to keynote NACOL’s Virtual School Symposium. This was an exciting and informative event with somewhere around 1,100 people in attendance. It’s a conference that, just like online learning, has grown by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years.
I’ve said this before, but NACOL, the International Association for K12 Online Learning, is doing some great work in this space. The organization is a great source of information and is helping sponsor useful research to further the field.

Among the worthwhile reports that I recommend highly and that you can find from NACOL’s site are the latest issue of Threshold magazine and the latest Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning report (just came out on October 23rd). These reports help show that online learning really is booming and will help any reader understand what it really is.

There has been lots of activity on the Web about these events—many praising and others with insightful criticisms. One of the most interesting things, however, that I observe is the difference in conversations taking place. When you are in the Beltway or talking with people who have been in the thick of education for years, although many do see the promise online learning holds, many also don’t believe it’s happening and growing in disruptive fashion. If you are in the actual space and seeing the number of entrepreneurs and districts diving in and having successes, however, you see a very different picture. This is not necessarily surprising given how disruptive innovation works, but it is interesting.

Lastly, Scott McLeod, an associate professor and coordinator of the Educational Administration Program at Iowa State University and the director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), delivered a great presentation on the Web at the K12 Online Conference. His thesis in essence is that the coming disruptive changes necessitate new leadership models for schools. It’s a 20-minute presentation that summarizes some core concepts from our work and is well worth watching.

– Michael B. Horn

Michael is a co-founder and distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute. He currently works as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions.