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Christensen on disruptive innovation in higher education

| June 5, 2012

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Reading, Christensen on disruptive innovation in higher education, comes to us from the Changing Higher Education blog.  (Clayton Christensen coined the term “disruptive innovation” in 2003, having used “disruptive technology” earlier for the same concept.)

This blog post draws from a well-written white paper – Disrupting College – that describes the challenges facing higher education today, outlines the concepts of disruptive innovation, and applies these concepts to higher education.  Two major points are made:

1.  For more than 50 years, higher education in the United States has focused on expanding access.  The focus now needs to be on how to make a quality post-secondary education affordable.

2.  Disruptive innovation is occurring now in the form of on-line, for-profit higher education organizations.

My challenge to you this week is to learn more about these issues.  Toay’s reading is a good place to start.  Then, if you want to gain a better understanding of disruptive watch this <> short video.  In it, Professor Christensen describes the field he invented.  The story, at the end of the video, where he describes explaining the concept to Andy Grove of Intel is particularly instructive.  It really makes the point of how this change occurs.

To explore this area further, download Disrupting College and find some time for reading.  And to go even further, read “Conversation Spotlights Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education” a column by Michael Horn in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

I think that investing some time on this subject is a very good, strategic investment.  By understanding this concept and higher education’s challenges, you’ll be better equipped to see and act on what’s ahead.


Have a great week.  .  .  .    jim