The fourth paper from Clayton Christensen Institute, titled “Is K–12 blended learning disruptive? An introduction to theory of hybrids” discusses K-12 blended learning.
Clayton Christensen joined Heather Staker, who has authored all four of our papers, and me in writing this paper, which takes a different approach from our past discussions of blended learning. Whereas our past work took a descriptive approach in defining blended learning, in this paper we analyze blended learning for the first time through the lens of disruptive innovation theory to help people anticipate and plan for its likely effects on the classrooms of today and schools of tomorrow.
The process of disruption is often painted as a straightforward phenomenon. New organizations tend to introduce disruptions, which are generally simpler, more affordable, more accessible, and not as good as the leading products or services in a sector. Because they aren’t as good, they first plant themselves among nonconsumers—people who are unable to consume the existing products because they are too expensive, complicated, or inconvenient and therefore are delighted with this new innovation. From there, disruptions improve, and, over time, supplant the dominant products as people flock to them because they delighted with the new value propositions disruptions deliver.
What we see from our research, however, is that the transition is rarely that clean. Sectors in the midst of a disruptive transformation often experience a hybrid phase, in which the leading organizations do adopt the new technology, but they do so as a hybrid—a sustaining innovation that offers a combination of the old technology with the new to deliver the “best of both worlds.”
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