ERIC Number: EJ944318
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: 53
Is Online Learning a Disruptive Innovation?
Meyer, Katrina A.
Planning for Higher Education, v39 n4 p44-53 Jul-Sep 2011
In their desire to plan for the future, planners must assess the role of both internal and external influences on the institution. What then should people make of the idea that technology is disruptive? This perception fuels the views of Barone and Hagner (2001), who claimed that technology would "transform" higher education; Duderstadt (2000), who stressed that technologies would drive changes in higher education; and Gonick, who saw in the Internet a "new kind of force" and "a change agent" that would produce a "very different kind of university" (Gonick 2009). This language is consistent and powerful, but the question remains: Should planners plan for the disruption of higher education? Have the promoters of the "technology as disruptor" idea overplayed their hands or is transformation around the corner? Three problems plague language equating technology with transformation. First, such language is oversimplified and ignores other forces at work such as the human element. Second, it lacks precision. Third, it lacks a theory that can help explain disruption and evaluate whether it has occurred. To address the first problem, this analysis incorporates alternative forces that contribute to or modify the influence of change agents. To address the second problem, this article focuses on online learning. To address the third problem, this analysis draws heavily on the work of Christensen (1997, 2000), whose concept of "disruptive technology" was first applied to technologies in business. So the charge for this effort is to evaluate whether online learning is a disruptive technology in higher education, as defined by Christensen (1997).
Descriptors: Electronic Learning, Higher Education, Online Courses, Change Agents, Educational Technology, Educational Planning, Technology Integration, Language Usage, Curriculum Design, Misconceptions, Management Systems
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A