Digital Disruptive Relationships

Being at 7th Grade camp last week afforded me the opportunity to catch up on some professional learning via my network. This video , "Where Disruption Will Take Us", grabbed my attention for many reasons, but mostly because I'm a sucker for all things "disruptive." Whether that's disruptive innovation, disruptive practices in education or business, or even disruptions in traditional faith development models.

James McQuivey, VP at Forrester, talks about how traditional models of disruption, (ala Clayton Christensen), are themselves being disrupted using the already existing technology platforms. This time, the disruptions aren't the digital platforms themselves, but rather the consumer relationships in, with, and under those platforms. The initial digital disruptions of the last century have not only caused us to re-think how goods and services are delivered, but how those digital platforms challenge consumer relationships with those companies that provide those goods and services.

This notion of business disruption got me thinking about disruptions in our world of education. While technology has certainly shaken up the field of personal learning, the technology itself is only the platform by which education will be changed in the future. For the first time, at least in my understanding of teaching history, the technology now affords teachers the opportunity to focus on what they really do well, primarily, foster learning relationships with students, not just deliver content. When teachers take hold of this relational model of student learning, it is then that truly innovative learning disruptions occur.

If the driving focus of every school is truly learning, and we allow that to become our mission, or non-negotiable, then everything else is can be tailored precisely to meet that outcome. Traditional understandings about assessment, school day schedule, or even content delivery platforms are open for discussion/disruption. I definitely do not think that would be a bad thing, as long as at the heart of these disruptions is student learning.

Would these innovations in learning ruin traditional models of "school?" You bet, but the cultural, digital disruptions have already done that (Well, in part, there are still some schools and teachers who have refused to recognize that we are already 15 years into a new century)! It's only when teachers embrace the technology disruptions that the other innovative learning disruptions make sense. Teachers now have the ability to focus solely on developing learning relationships with students and return that relationship to the heart of what we understanding school to truly be.

By the way...I'm still trying to figure out what that looks like for me and my ministry! How about you?

Image: by Flickr User: Brian Solls, "Disruption as an Ecosystem(CC BY 2.0)
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