in the Times
reminded me of our seminar on disruptive innovation. Lauren Luke, using relative rudimentary technology, is hitting an audience that traditional media and the cosmetics industry are losing, despite expending tremendous resources to retain it. Interestingly, attempts by traditional media and the cosmetics industry to replicate Luke's success fail.
There is a lesson here for institutions like the one we are at. A good deal of learning is going on online, and a large number of people are willing to learn from people like Luke, thereby bypassing traditional channels of instruction. Second, it is not enough for traditional channels of instruction to simply use the technology that someone like Luke uses and expect success (isn't it a little silly that every college now feels the need to Twitter, or have a MySpace/Facebook page?).
Institutions like ours have a reputation for creating high-quality experiences for its students, and we should focus on translating these high-quality experiences online. To do this, we cannot follow our old formulas, but we also can't be too quick to use the formulas that are successful for individuals outside of institutions like ours. Instead, disruptive innovation in an institution like ours means continuing to create high-quality work that–-though it may never receive as many views, and though it may be more expensive to create–-allows us to expand our audience, and do the work of the institution in more streamlined, inexpensive way. Measured against other disruptive innovations (for example, Luke), this type of work may seem slight, but measured against the sustaining innovative work of higher education, it can be better appreciated for the disruptive innovation that it is.