This conference paper uses Disruptive Innovation (Christensen, 1997; Christensen and Raynor, 2003, Christensen et al., 2015) as a lens through which to examine higher education practice with learning technologies. Disruptive Innovation argues that simple and convenient technologies can displace powerful incumbents; examples include the Sony transistor radio, which displaced the large, valve-based radio, despite being technically inferior originally. Moreover, Disruptive Innovation argues that purpose is created through practice. Analogously, we can look at Google, Wikipedia and other popular technologies and identify how convenience and ease of use have been key factors in their adoption into higher education. Current and emerging practice in technology enhanced learning is surveyed, with reference to reports by the New Media Consortium and the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association. Recent case studies are also cited.
Having used Disruptive Innovation to identify specific disruptive technologies, attendees will be invited to consider the impact of technology usage through a second generation Activity Theory lens (Engeström, 2015). Activity Theory examines how individuals and groups use technology tools to achieve specific aims, and how social factors influence the usage of technologies. The session will therefore examine the impact of disruptive technologies on the division of labour in higher education, and on the role of the university as gatekeeper to knowledge, with students and lectures increasingly using their own devices to support learning and teaching. Attendees will also be invited to consider Activity Theory in relation to current and emerging technologies.
The session argues that disruptive technology enhanced learning has significant implications for higher education, identifying practices which relfect economic and time pressures affecting students and lecturers. Resources used to support assessed work in higher education are being accessed by means other than reading lists and institutional platforms. Disruptive technologies are being used by both students and lecturers, but social media technologies such as Facebook are not being used to support technology enhanced learning in higher education to any great extent, as users prefer to demarcate their lives; social connections and learning connections are largely kept separate.
This session is a condensed account of a commissioned paper I am writing for the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, and a book I am writing for Palgrave Macmillan.
Christensen, C. M. (1997) The innovator’s dilemma: When new technologies cause great firms to fail (Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press).
Christensen, C. M., & Raynor, M. E. (2003) The innovator’s solution: Creating and sustaining successful growth (Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press).
Christensen, C.M., Raynor, M.E. & McDonald, R. (2015) ‘What is Disruptive Innovation?’ Harvard Business Review, 93 (12), 44-53.
Engeström, Y. (2015) Learning by Expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research, 2nd edn (New York, Cambridge University Press).