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Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns
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Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  950 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Selected as one of the "Best Books on Innovation, 2008" by "BusinessWeek" magazine

Named the "Best Human-Capital Book of 2008" by "Strategy + Business" magazine

A crash course in the business of learning-from the bestselling author of "The Innovator's Dilemma" and "The Innovator's Solution."..

"Provocatively titled, "Disrupting Class" is just what America's K-12 education sys
Hardcover, 238 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by McGraw-Hill (first published 2008)
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What's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective ... by Martha Char LoveA Whole New Mind by Daniel H. PinkDisrupting Class by Clayton M. ChristensenTaking Back Childhood by Nancy Carlsson-PaigeWalking on Water by Derrick Jensen
Education Revolution
3rd out of 62 books — 39 voters
The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. ChristensenFlawless Consulting by Peter BlockThe Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. WeinbergBusiness Doctors by Sameer KamatAre Your Lights On? by Donald C. Gause
Best on Consulting
8th out of 110 books — 21 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,687)
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Leah Macvie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
REALLY liked it! And so I remember them in their words, here are their 5 major messages in the book (which they sourced with great stories and studies):

1. Few reforms have address the root cause of students' inability to learn. And most attempts have not been guided by an understanding of the root reasons for why the system functions as it does or how to predictably introduce innovation into it. Without this guidance, we've been destined to struggle. This also means, however, that we now have an
There is an idea I've been hearing over and over again in many different contexts, and this book brings it up again in the context of education.

It has been said that there is no perfect Pasta Sauce.... For years the companies that produce past sauce had been trying to perfect the single perfect pasta sauce through extensive research and taste testings, and to then market it accordingly. Of course, we not realize that there are, in fact, three! Regular, Spicy, and Extra Chunky. A full third of t
Vicki Davis
This is a very good book until the last chapter where it seems to draw a conclusion that the only way to fix education is with charter school type approaches. For example, we could all have a perfect house with an unlimited budget to build a new one but eventually it would show faults! We can't just build new houses. Although Hercules cleaned out the Agean stables- if they didn't remedy their ways it would fill up with filth again. Sometimes we don't step out of the box- we create new boxes! Per ...more
Fascinating look at disruptive innovation in education

The very real value of this useful and, at times, pleasantly surprising book comes from the way the authors apply their expertise in innovation to the field of education. By approaching public education’s crisis with new eyes – and conceptualizing education as a product or service like any other – Clayton M. Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma), Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson provide insights that escape the tired loops of argument th
Brent Wilson
Good exposition of Christensen's "disruptive innovation" theory - explaining how initially annoying products grow to take over markets and throw out older established companies. This book applies the theory to schools and education, with mixed success.

I got the clear impression that these authors were outsiders to the culture and complexity of schools and educational theory. So it's great to have their theory applied to the problem, but a little shaky in the details. For example, they say that "
Clayton Christensen offers a believable and intuitive approach to fixing our staggering American educational system. In a nutshell: people learn in different ways (no surprise here; it's a well-documented theory). Teachers too often teach one way (or two or three--the point being, teachers standardize. I understand. I've been a teacher most of my life. One of us and many of them in a classroom). His solution: Use 21st century technology and Web 2.0 to individualize lessons to suit needs.

That's w
Nov 04, 2013 Cheri added it
I want to preface this comment by saying that “Disrupting Class” by Christensen, Horn, and Johnson does a good job of pointing out flaws in our current education system and proposing alternate solutions. For the most part, I agreed with the points they were making. However, I want to center this review on one quote from their book that I believe represents a major flaw in their proposed course of action:

“Innovative chartered schools should be attempts to match school types to fit students’ circu
Mar 31, 2012 Christiane marked it as to-read
I heard him speak on this issue in March 2012 and he made me see teaching in a new way. Some of his most memorable insights are:

"Online learning is a technological core that can take education into a higher market"

“In higher ed, there wasn't disruption until now because colleges moving up emulated those above. Online learning changes this."

“What's going on in the low end of education today (online learning) is tomorrow's (system of) education."

"If you're trying to deploy a new technology in the
Aug 17, 2009 LB rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to LB by: willrich via Twitter
Shelves: education
Strange to be reading this book, whose theme is built on the foundation that instruction needs to be highly individualized because students learn differently, right after Why Students Don't Like School which makes it clear that everyone learns in basically the same way. In Disrupting Class, Christensen briefly cites Gardner, and moves on. In the latter book author Daniel Willingham, a cognitive psychologist, thoroughly backs up the statement that we all learn in essentially the same way, debunki ...more
I'd actually give this book a 3 because it's business-speak, a style of writing I loathe; but if I do that, no one will read it. Full of useful, common-sensical observations and some excellent suggestions for radically altering US schools (they use the word "revolutionize," though I refuse to; their ideas are good but not THAT good), they advocate school change through computer technology and, more importantly, by applying the lessons of change in the computer industry. What I can't tell is whet ...more
The authors posit that the reason why traditional schooling fails so many is that by nature, the structure of schools encourage standardization rather than customization (and customization is what produces truly effective learning environments). Using available data, they predict that in the next 10-12 years fully half of all high schoolers will attend classes online in order to maximize the marketplace's ability to offer them opportunities not available in the traditional face-to-face format. T ...more
Joshua Steimle
This book isn't just about fixing the educational system, it's about how the educational system will be fixed. It's not so much a question of if, but when, because it's inevitable. The question is whether you want to fight the transition or ride the wave and help it along, because although people will be fighting it, thinking that it's a bad thing, in the long run it's going to be good for teachers, administrators, politicians, entrepreneurs, parents, and especially students. If you're involved ...more
This book is 6 years old, so obviously things have changed since it was first published, but what hasn't changed all that much is how standardized education can be too standardized and therefore does not educate all children. Any educator will tell you that children learn differently; multiple intelligences taught us this many, many years ago. And good educators tailor lessons to meet individual needs, but this can only be done so much within the current educational system. So how do we change t ...more
A valiant effort on what it will take to dramatically improve the educational system in the USA.

Let's begin with some positives, because I am inclined to agree with most of what the author advances. Different students have different needs. Another way to phrase "needs" is with deficiencies. Every student is deficient in a different way, and thus will require a different strategy to correct those deficiencies. The author doesn't use these terms - I'm using them to illustrate how the author is cor
Absolutely terrible. The one thing I learned from this book: If you're going to write a book about the American educational system and how to "fix" it, make sure you learn how it currently works. Otherwise, you end up looking like an idiot.
Rachel Lail
Authors Christensen, Horn, and Johnson take the business principle of disruption and attempt to apply those theories to the public school system. This is an admirable goal, as there is certainly much room for improvement in the current school systems. It should be noted that this book is not for the classroom teacher looking for a way to improve teaching techniques. Instead, these ideas are perhaps best discussed and debated by schools of education, administrators, and entrepreneurs looking for ...more
There's some outstanding stuff in here, but it's surrounded by an awful lot of hand waving.
Michael Heneghan
I picked up Disrupting Class while looking for new ideas for my classroom. I am nearly always looking for new ideas on how to help my kids learn better and I thought this book might help me out in that quest.

Author Clayton Christensen is apparently well known in business circles for analyzing and explaining how disruption happens in the business world, so here he takes a stab at the education world, a notoriously difficult task. There seem to be so many questions and so many different answers fo
Fredrik Harloff

Although a bit outdated in its references (2008), its still a valid analysis of the challanges and possible approaches to fix our current education system. Clayton Christensen applies his theory of disruption innovation developed for other purposes on education.

Unless top managers actively manages the process, their organizations will shape any disruptive innovation into a sustaining innovation - one that fits the processes, values and economic model of the existing business - because organizat
A look at education in the future where the use of technology will allow educators to be more student-centric in their approach to teaching. Christensen and his co-authors believe that technology and different school architectures will allow future students to learn better by having lessons presented in a way that taps into the way a particular student learns. Christensen points out that already Chartered Schools and Home Schooling are pushing the monolithic factory school model. Schools will ne ...more

Some random thoughts:

1) The idea that a disruptive technology begins NOT in competition with the traditional technology, but filling a niche that was previously empty is fascinating and a bit liberating. It is liberating in that it acknowledges that the new technology is not doing, and perhaps at that point, CAN'T do what the traditional one does. Many people criticize online learning because it can't replace real interactivity of a classroom and that many online courses are junk (which they are
Ed Ingman
So, this is an interesting book. If you're wondering about the movement of education in the last 10+ years, the metanarrative if you will, then this book would definitely interest you. If you're curious about what reforms work and why, then this book would provide some interesting details. I find myself, often, in both of these situations, so I really enjoyed this book. I did wonder, throughout, how much the borrowed from the much heralded economic title, 'The Innovator's Dilemma'. This book dra ...more

The summary of what schools need to work on is perfect.
The author believes that the computers that fill the schools have not been utilized beyond word processing. Unless high schools do something different I believe he is correct.
The author speaks of sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation and noncomsumables and a large number of failed business ventures and how this realtes to schools not embracing the possiblities of technology and why.
The aut
May 19, 2012 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rachel by: Mark Williamson
Shelves: non-fiction
The most compelling part of this book is Christensen's application of his innovation model (and expertise) to the education space. The first few chapters cover this well. It's nice to break away from the hotly-debated and constantly-changing tides of thought on school politics, merit-based pay, assessments, learning technology, etc & instead look at our complex & broken school system from the 30,000 foot view.

Christensen's research on innovation in complex business systems has a surpris
Very interesting application of Christensen's theory of disruptive innovation to the school system. I think he does a good job of listing many of the reasons the structure of the school system makes progress, adaptation, and individualization difficult. He has identified online learning as a potential disruptive innovation that could fulfill a need that the traditional school system cannot, and he had strong arguments and some innovative ideas for how it could become more pervasive. It will be i ...more
Chinarut Ruangchotvit
if silicon valley culture what is dear and home to you and you've found yourself in the middle of advocating educational reform and you feel like you are "required to do the equivalent of rebuilding an airplane mid-flight" - this book is for you! A very quick read and way to get a crash course on the lay of the land, how our monolithic model came to be, shares a compelling vision, and provides some direction for a wide variety of roles influencing public education. Christensen is clear to note w ...more
Chris Aylott
The author of The Innovator's Dilemma applies his theory of disruptive innovation to education, showing why it's so hard to change the current school system and predicting that a computer-based learning model will break out into mainstream use by 2019.

Christensen's theory makes a lot of sense: he claims that a well-established organization CAN'T successfully change its own fundamentals, because the gain from massive change is always much smaller than the gain from incremental change. (Organizat
Wendy Yu
First of all, I'm definitely not an "education issues person." As social issues go, I've never taken the time to figure out what the "education crisis" is all about aside from grumpily thinking kids these days are probably doing worse and worse on tests while paradoxily fearful of the crazy tiger moms and tiger kids who apply for colleges. I think I never would have picked it up except that a friend is a co-author, but I was delighted to find that this book is actually a true page turner. The bo ...more
The authors make a compelling case to support their claims that computer and web-based learning will inevitably change the nature of education in the next ten years. This change will be for the better as learning can become more student-centric with the teacher functioning as a learning facilitator.

Some acute observations are those regarding "intellectual cliques" (p. 37), which highlight how various subjects tend to cater to particular intelligence types/learning styles; implementation issues a
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Clayton M. Christensen is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in the Technology & Operations Management and General Management faculty groups. He is best known for his study of innovation in commercial enterprises. His first book, The Innovator's Dilemma, articulated his theory of disruptive technology.

More about Clayton M. Christensen...
The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business How Will You Measure Your Life? The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth Seeing What's Next: Using the Theories of Innovation to Predict Industry Change The Power of Everyday Missionaries

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“Motivation is the catalyzing ingredient for every successful innovation. The same is true for learning.” 6 likes
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