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Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns Hardcover – 1 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional (1 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071592067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071592062
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.2 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 598,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

"A brilliant teacher, Christensen brings clarity to the a muddled and chaotic world of education." Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

From the Back Cover



“After a barrage of business books that purport to 'fix' American education, at last a book that speaks thoughtfully and imaginatively about what genuinely individualized education can be like and how to bring it about.”
-Howard Gardner, author of Five Minds for the Future

“A decade ago, Clayton Christensen wrote a masterpiece, The Innovator's Dilemma, that transformed the way business looks at innovation. Now, he and two collaborators, Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson, have come up with another, focusing his groundbreaking theories of disruptive innovation on education."
-David Gergen, US Presidential Advisor

“Clayton Christensen's insights just might shake many of us in education out of our complacency and into a long needed disruptive discourse about really fixing our schools. This will be a welcome change after decades in which powerful calls to action have resulted in only marginal improvements for our nation's school children.”
-Vicki Phillips, director of Education, Gates Foundation

“Full of strategies that are both bold and doable, this brilliant and seminal book shows how we can utilize technology to customize learning. I recommend it most enthusiastically.”
-Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester (NY) Teachers Association, and vice president of the American Federation of Teachers

"Finally we have a book from the business community that gets it. Disrupting Class from Clayton Christensen and colleagues points out that motivation is central to learning and that if schools and learning are to be transformed as they must be, motivation must be at the center of the work. They also point out how technology should be used to personalize learning and what the future might look like for schools. A must read for anyone thinking and worrying about where education should be headed."
-Paul Houston, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators

“Powerful, proven strategies for moving education from stagnation to evolution.”
-Christopher Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Clayton Christensen and colleagues describe how disruptive technologies will personalize and, as a result, revolutionize learning. Every education leader should read this book, set aside their next staff meeting to discuss it, and figure out how they can be part of the improvement wave to come.”
-Tom Vander Ark, President, X PRIZE Foundation

“In Disrupting Class, Christensen, Horn and Johnson argue that the next round of innovation in school reform will involve learning software. While schools have resisted integrating technology for instruction, today's students are embracing technology in their everyday lives. This book offers promise to education reformers.”
-Kathleen McCartney, Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“The genius of Disrupting Class is the spotlight the book throws on how we can tap children’s early enthusiasm for school by letting them learn in best-choice, individualized ways, the teacher’s role transformed from ‘sage on stage’ to ‘guide on the side.’”
--Seattle Times & Post-Intelligencer

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Format: Hardcover
The very real value of this useful and, at times, pleasantly surprising book comes from the way the authors apply their expertise in innovation to the field of education. By approaching public education's crisis with new eyes - and conceptualizing education as a product or service like any other - Clayton M. Christensen (The Innovator's Dilemma), Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson provide insights that escape the tired loops of argument that often define discussions about public education. These writers' obvious willingness to look in new directions for learning innovation is matched by their genuine concern for everyone involved in education. However, they do seem a bit idealistic, as they focus so strongly on the pedagogical and conceptual aspects of education that they seem to skim over other concerns, like logistics and budgets. The authors acknowledge the legal monopoly governing public education without really addressing the social weight and inertia of such a monopoly. In fact, they seem to believe that positive disruption is almost inevitable. getAbstract recommends this thoughtful book to anyone interested in social change and education, and - not tangentially - in how new technologies affect societies.
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I really enjoyed this book, it presents a view of the classroom and of education in a way that is provocative and inspiring. I think it would be useful for all teachers to read this and reflect. The children and young people we are educating are from a digital age and this is impacting on the learning process itself. The careers that they are getting ready for are almost in a parallel universe to ours and beyond our imaginings. This book gives us some clues to a possible way forward.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 51 reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but rather jargon-heavy 23 Aug. 2008
By CrimsonGirl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Disrupting Class" is a very interesting read for people interested in improving education here in the U.S. Dr. Christensen argues that the main problem with traditional schools is that they cannot provide individualized instruction that best meets each student's needs. As a home educator, I couldn't agree with him more. He sees computer-based learning as a "disruptive innovation" that will solve the problem of how to provide this type of "student-centric" learning to the masses (since not everyone can homeschool or hire a tutor for their offspring).

Dr. Christensen revisits the argument from his earlier book "The Innovator's Dilemma" that "disruptive innovations" don't initially compete directly against the current market leader's product but rather against nonconsumption. For example, in the '70's Digital had a very successful market for $200k minicomputers. Apple couldn't directly compete with DEC's minicomputers because their personal computers weren't good enough at the time to solve the problems that DEC's customers had. So Apple marketed its IIe PC as a relatively affordable toy for kids. Kids were nonconsumers so it didn't matter to them that the Apple wasn't as powerful as the existing DEC minicomputers. A few years down the road, however, improvements in PC technology rendered DEC's minicomputers obsolete.

Dr. Christensen argues that the traditional government-run education system will in the near future be "disrupted" by the innovation of computer-based learning. At first, online learning will compete against nonconsumption by offering classes in subjects where there isn't enough demand in any given school to justify offering a traditional course (such as a very advanced math one or an unusual foreign language). But eventually, He believes that the technology will improve such that computer-based learning will render the traditional model of education obsolete.

In "Disrupting Class", he postulates that demand for computer-based high school classes will follow an S-curve that will start to "flip" (significantly accelerate) in the year 2012. In the years between 2012 and 2018, Dr. Christensen projects that the share of online courses will grow from 5% to 50% of all high school courses. That timetable seems a bit ambitious to me personally, but I believe he's got the basic right idea about the growth in the demand for online classes.

The main problem I had with "Disrupting Class" is with the way it is written. It reads like a management consultant's report filled with buzzwords and jargon (not surprisingly Dr. Christensen used to work for BCG). It would've been much better had someone else gone through the authors' draft and re-written it in plain English. I found it very tiresome to have to stop constantly to figure out what exactly the authors actually meant by all their convoluted gobbledygook. Throwing buzzwords and jargon into nearly every sentence doesn't make the authors look smarter, just much less coherent!

The other thing I would've liked to have seen discussed in "Disrupting Class" is the question of whether or not it is good for children's brains for schooling to be mostly computer-based. Dr. Jane Healey wrote a very interesting book about a decade ago called "Failure to Connect" about some worrisome research findings on the negative impact of computer use on children. Has more recent research allayed or deepened those concerns? Before our society makes the shift predicted in "Disruptive Class", shouldn't we be examining this very important question?
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Sort of innovative, fairly disruptive, but still needs measures 1 Aug. 2008
By Bill Gossett - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Any prospective reader of this book should first read Hubbard's How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business (for that matter, Christensen would have written a better book if he read Hubbard, too). Christensen rightly disputes some academic measurements, but too quickly dismisses better methods.

Apart from what he could have done better on the measurement issue, he makes a passionate case for getting out of the rut education finds itself in. Some of the recommendations might strike a business person or educator as a little impractical, but I think there is an interesting opportunity in every solution he proposes. True, there is a large genre of books about the need for change in education, but few take this angle. No educator's library should be without it.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Disruptive thinking for the classroom 12 Jun. 2008
By Michele H - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I am a layperson with an interest in education and technology. I read Innovator's Dilemma and was anxious to see if Clayton Christensen could apply his unique business lens to sort through, and perhaps solve the issues concerning our failing public education system.

He and his colleagues didn't disappoint me.

This book was eminently readable and layer by layer, uncovered the weaknesses in the way we educate our kids. It's not simply a matter of putting technology in schools or tutoring kids who learn differently; it's a matter of changing the way the monolithic system, and entrenched stakeholders, work against innovation and creativity in learning by challenging the underlying foundations of that system.

According to Christensen, flexible individualized instruction combined with the proper use of technology, rewiring content development and distribution channels, and the creation of online networks of students, parents and teachers working together instead of in opposition, can revolutionize education in the United States.

If you care about the future of education, and of a child's ability to compete in the global economy, read this book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An Inspiring Book with Profound Ramifications on the Future of Education 29 Sept. 2008
By Massachusetts Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Christensen approaches improving the education system from the broad lens of innovation, rather than focusing solely on examining the school system itself. The result: a powerful perspective on how disruptive innovation outside the mainstream curriculum can ultimately transform the techniques and results of the public school system in general.

Disrupting Class outlines a thorough argument for how to dramatically improve the U.S. educational system including:

* The shortcomings of previous approaches to improving education, and therefore what needs to be different in the future

* The importance of adapting teaching techniques to different learning styles (building on previous work Gardner and others); I can particularly relate to this as I have a family member with dyslexia who became an avid reader after receiving a different approach to reading instruction rather than the standard public school curriculum.

* The potential for computers and more modularization of teaching to deliver individualized learning in the context of the school system; Christensen is quick to point out that more computers are not the solution, it is the way in which computers are used that are critical.

* The barriers to change in the current system; Having studied numerous organizations within and outside the educational system, Christensen presents a valuable framework for how to drive change in organizations with different characteristics. The challenge is that the public school system has one of the most complicating set of features. Through understanding these factors, administrators and educators must employ different approaches to creating change which are outlined in the book.

* The need for innovation in areas outside the mainstream elements of the educational system (the book draws on the principles from Christensen's previous work, The Innovator's Dilemma); He cites examples from outside and within the educational system and illustrates how "disruptive innovation" around the fringes can ultimately redefine the public school system as we know it today.

In addition to having a compelling thesis, Disrupting Class is also an easy read. Christensen makes it come alive through weaving a narrative throughout the book of a public school principal struggling to make a greater difference in her students' development.

While the book overall is excellent, there are two sections which could have been shortened without detracting from the overall story. The first is Chapter 6 which makes the case, largely based on the research of others, of the importance of learning in the first 36 months of development. While I found it compelling and causing me to wonder if I had done enough for my own children at that age, I did not find it added much to the overall thesis. Similarly, Chapter 7 discusses the need to change the research approach in the field of education improvement. While it may be useful to some educators as they evaluate options in the future, I found it less engaging than the other chapters.

Overall, Disrupting Class is a must read for those interested in education from any perspective - parent, educator, administrator, politician or non-profit organization. As someone who is a parent and involved in a non-profit in the education arena, I find this book incredibly energizing - it has given me some ideas for innovations to test in the non-profit context alongside the public school system. I encourage you to read it and find ways to apply the lessons in your environment as well!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
From one believes in the creative power of disruption 11 Jan. 2009
By Howard Blumenthal - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As I see it, every American child is indoctrinated into our society through about 30,000 hours of instruction. Over a dozen years, they sit in school for about 15,000 hours and they consume media for about 15,000 more. Often, the learning is conflicted, and, for many students, the system fails.

Authors Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson focus on disruptive innovation as a means to change to change schools and change our system of learning. Their focus is institutional change, and their approach is not difficult to understand. In essence, they illustrate why and how established institutions find innovation so challenging, and why disruptive innovation is more likely to be successful when it comes from outside the established institutions. (This concept applies to many types of institutions, including media organizations.)

In this book, the future of education is aligned with a new kind of media industry, one that connects individual students with self-paced, highly interactive educational media. The authors focus their future vision on software and connectivity; I think the view should also embrace a wider range of media, including some new form of short-run publishing (print has its place), television, video, live performance, and a richer array of human interactions. But we fundamentally agree: individualized instruction, self-paced, utilizing rich media so that all instruction is self-paced and evaluated during (not after) the learning process--these are the right ideas. And, we fundamentally agree that schools and school systems are not likely to change their ways. They must be disrupted in a significant way.

Now, there's a guidebook for that radical change. The next step is to educate enough people in the ways of innovation so that the disruption can take shape. I'm in. Please read the book, and if the ideas feel right for you, join the revolution.
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