Disrupting the Institution

Disrupting the Institution: Creating Change from Within - Sun 2/26/12 1:00 - 4:00p
Lee Graham, Skip Via, Christen Bouffard & Tatiana Piatanova

Driven by passionate innovators engaged in the proverbial “thinking outside the box,” disruptive innovation creates new values and new networks...something institutions find, at best, difficult to accommodate, at worst something to fear and repress. What, then, does disruptive innovation look like inside the educational institution? What do innovative educators do with--and demand from--their students?

From flipping the classroom and mobile learning to social media and students as creators, let’s examine some real-life educational innovations, try out some interesting technologies, share from our own experiences, and brainstorm ways to move forward despite institutional lethargy and the chorus of nay-sayers who claim innovation is impossible.

disintermediation example
Twitter hashtag: Please use


"Disintermediation is a process in which a middle player poised between service or product providers and their consumers is weakened or removed from the value chain. Disintermediation is driven by the fact that middle players consume resources and in removing them from the chain, these resources are recovered to enable either lower cost for the consumer, better value from the provider, or both. Disintermediation can be total, in which case a middle player is removed entirely. It can also be partial, in which case an intermediary is carved up and the different ways in which they formerly added value are segmented, replaced, or done away with as circumstances permit. Understanding the process of disintermediation is critical to understanding the ways in which Education 2.0 will evolve."

If you're not adding value, you're just adding cost. What do we value about public education, and what's just adding cost? (Illustration at right from Dion Hinchcliffe, ZDNet.)

The BIG Questions

    • What are the obstacles to change in your setting?
    • If everyone sees the need for educational reform, why hasn't it happened already?
    • Who makes the decisions for educators?
    • Why is effective change so difficult to institutionalize?
    • How can we effect change in our own settings?
    • Are we adequately preparing teachers as change agents?
    • How should professional development adapt to serve current and emerging needs?
    • Why are K12 schools still based on the factory model? How did they get that way?
    • Should we integrate technology into the curriculum, or should we change the curriculum?
    • Should we reform the current system or start from scratch? What might that look like?
    • What if things don't change? What's the future for public schools? For higher education?
    • What would happen to innovation if tenure went away?

    Small group exercises

    • Create a disintermediation map for public schools.
    • Identify the obstacles to change in your setting.
    • Envision your ideal educational setting.
    • What would it look like if K-16 education were a single, unified system?

    Suggested Readings:

    Subpages (1): Additional Resources