Academic Spotlight: Disruptive Innovation

Academic Spotlight: Disruptive Innovation; Changing the Way we Approach Education

Education is an ever-changing landscape. Educators often say that if you wait long enough the new educational practices or pedagogies that are popular now will come back. In many cases, they are right. Schools educate in a manner they believe works. If students do well on tests and go to good colleges then we are doing well. We, as educators, develop our programs based on research, brain science, and educational leaders who identify the best practices for teaching and learning. So how does educational change happen in a way that the pendulum moves forward and doesn’t swing back?

Simple…Disruptive Innovation. A transformation that results from a new development that dramatically changes our structure and how we function as a school. Some examples of disruptive innovations that forever changed the way we work, learn, and play are the computer, the internet, portable devices, and cell phones.

What is another type of disruption? A pandemic. It's not the type of disruption that you would see coming or would slowly adapt to or read books about. It’s the type of disruption that pushes you forward, forces you to think creatively, and collaborate on solutions that meet the needs of the current situation. Last spring, the COVID-19 pandemic thrust our school into a virtual setting with little notice.

Although disruptive, it was a managed shift in the delivery of our high-quality educational program. We relied on the foundation of our 1:1 device program and the technology integration tools that have become key to the teaching andlearning at Holy Child.

This foundation gave us the springboard to better deliver learning at a macro level - big ideas - to the micro level – the skills needed to support it.

Disruptive innovation in a classroom is student-centered and personalized through intentional implementation of technology. This shifts teaching and learning from a traditional, lecture style to an innovative and collaborative learning environment. Learning changes from something that can only happen in a classroom to something that is integrated into all aspects of our world. Think about the accessibility we now have by using webcams and Microsoft Teams. Our students will not only just learn in our classrooms, but they can learn from other places beyond our campus walls. Teachers can invite scientists, innovators, government leaders, and philanthropists to discuss ways to improve our world through collaborative discussions and authentic learning opportunities.

Through OneNote, teachers and students can collaborate and share feedback dynamically. Other educational technology applications such as Flipgrid and Nearpod increase student engagement by allowing students voice and choice in how they express their understanding, ideas, and reflections. Teachers utilize the benefits of these tools to help them see and know every one of their students — see how they learn and who they are as individuals. Thrively is a program that inventories students' strength, learning style, and interests to help us better understand how our students learn, help them grow, and guide their future aspirations. Using innovative technology to know the uniqueness of each student and challenge them to grow into who they are called to be is a perfect example of how Cornelia called us to fulfill her mission by “meeting the wants of the age.”

To meet the wants of the age is to challenge what we believe about learning, collaborate with diverse people to come to new ideas, and experiment and connect insights to change the way we teach and learn. It is safe to say our world is changing and will continue to change, but it is through this unexpected disruption that lasting innovation occurs. This will change teaching and learning in ways we never expected, but will prepare our young women to be woman of action, ingenuity, and innovation.

Written by: Kim Hogan, Director of Teaching and Learning & Kaitlyn Valis, Director of Instructional Technology