These are my notes from Dr Scott McLeod’s NECC 2009 presentation, “Effective Leadership in an Era of Disruptive Innovation.” This content is similar to Scott’s 20 min presentation for the 2008 K-12 Online Conference, “Current leadership models are inadequate for disruptive innovations,”

Disruptive innovations are game changers

to understand Christiansen’s thinking here, we need to understand two different lines

the “more than needed” line
– plain ole phone line was fine for most people for many years
– phone companies tried to convince people they needed more

second line: the good enough line
– remember when first bag phones came out
– over time it got better and better, lighter and lighter
– at some point it crossed the “good enough” line

Sustaining innovations continue until the disruptive innovations cross the line

I’d like you think about K12 education
– what is living in the in this “not good enough” area today?

It is important to recognize when an organization is confronted with a disruptive innovation
– when it first comes out, it is never good enough
– so existing organizations sneer at it, it isn’t good enough or taken seriously

As the new thing gets better, eventually it totally replaces the old model

What school leaders need to know:

1. Good organizations with good people will disappear if they don’t understand the ‘natural laws’ of disruptive innovation

many educators are trying to retro-fit disruptive innovations into the old system, and that doesn’t work well
– the current system has been fine tuned to do A, and now we are trying to do B
– this doesn’t work well because every time you make a decision about resource allocation, organizations tend to invest in their existing processes and infrastructure rather than the emerging/developing models which are not yet viable yet
– present day demands mandate this
– we have very difficult time doing the new thing, even if the leader of the organization believes it, persuading people in the organization is hard

3. It is much easier to create a new organization, or buy one, than it is to turn an existing organization around

IBM is big example Christensen uses

It is very hard to evaluate the unknowable
– example is online education: it is not yet good enough for the mainstream public

Look at the seismic effect the Internet has already had just being 10-12 years old for most of us
– so much is unknown: it is very hard to know how to allocate resources

think about kids who are being underserved today
– those are the ones to do pilot projects
– the mainstream kids will buck that system, but underserved kids and their parents will embrace new opportunities

Where is the alternative to online learning NOTHING
– those are the groups to embrace for pilots

We also need to use different metrics for success
– old metrics often don’t make sense
– it is hard to access creativity and innovation with bubble sheets

think of other ways you can insert disruptive innovations
– get rid of textbooks
– give everyone 1:1 learning

as IBM did, allow the disruptive innovation to compete directly and proceed unfettered with existing organizations
– delaying tactics don’t stop the inevitable

What is going to push the paradigm forward
– severe teacher shortage is coming because of aging baby boomers
– how are we going to come up with other kinds of efficiencies to meet learning needs of students
– students wanting more technology options
– stresses on government budgets
– are going to have to find other, alternative ways to meet needs given accountability pressures

Big takeaways
– things seem stressful today: but today it is still “business as usual”
– disruptive innovations are continuing to mature
– either we are going to change and get replaced, or we need to move now

Scott sees that kids don’t need us for content yet: they can get it elsewhere
– teachers can facilitate that process

We are never going to walk away from standards entirely
– at the start of the standards movement, we defined them in exhaustive detail
– what makes sense from a learning standpoint: what are the big ideas in the discipline or grade level
– what are the key ideas or focus skils

Iowa Core Curriculum project is focused on this
– it is not like open education models of 60’s and 70’s that were too unstructured, “go learn anything you want”
– currently we are too broad, without enough depth

Question from the audience: “Problem when we train the teachers is they learn hands-on with help, but they go back to their room and they are on their own with no support”
– Scott’s answer: it is a leadership issue with resources and support
– it is also a problem to just send teachers back into their existing paradigm

New York librarian wants a “tech guru” Assistant Principal focusing on full-time, on staff technology integration coaches

Scott says there is research supporting that

Virginia is the first state to mandate those instructional support folks: ITRT program

Book “Nudge” – we can change a few defaults and make changes that are unexpected
– organ donation is an example

“The Implementation Dip” is research finding that when people adopt a new technology, they lose some productivity and efficiency learning the new technology

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