The Next Step in Disrupting Class - Heather Staker

I had the good fortune to attend the LearnLaunch conference this past weekend in Cambridge - the theme of the conference was "Expanding the Education Innovation System".  The sessions were thought provoking and pushed me on the IFL vision as we seek to help transform the factory model of education.

A significant highlight for me was Heather Staker's presentation, "The Next Step in Disrupting Class". Heather is a Senior Research Fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation and while I had read Clayton's book 'Disrupting Class' a while back, Heather's presentation really helped to bring the concepts to life for me as well as providing insight into a number of K-16 specific developments since the writing of the book - quoting Heather, "disruption has reached the education market".


One of my biggest IFL-related takeaways from the presentation is to 'serve a pocket of non-consumption'; K-12 examples include credit recovery, drop outs, AP/advanced courses and home-schooling, while Higher Ed examples include on-the-job training, micro-certification, incarcerated adults and stay-at-home moms and dads.

The key questions and areas of focus for the IFL which I take away from Heather's talk are:

  • Define the problem the IFL is trying to solve - make this as granular and specific as possible.
  • Get the market right, as opposed to the technology, i.e. who can we best serve? Who is not being served well, not thriving within the current system? Serve pockets of consumption whose alternative is nothing at all.
  • Document and publish our findings as we go. Avoid blanket statements such as "this will serve all kids", but rather, our research tells us this strategy works well for 'X' student demographic, it does not serve 'Y' student demographic - capture and document evidence
  • Think of opportunities not threats - how are we taking some pain away?  What pain do we want to take away? What's the IFL core competency?

Thanks Heather for an illuminating talk!

P.S. A number of great white papers on K-16 disruptive innovation are available for free download on the Clayton Christensen website. 

P.P.S. On a more personal level, if you haven't read Clayton's book, 'How Will You Measure Your Life', I encourage you to do so. If I had a magic wand, I would make the answering of that question a graduation requirement :)