How to use the right innovation for you

The Christensen Institute notes four ways educators can spot hybrid innovations in education:

1. Measure itself against the traditional value proposition

2. Traditional + online

3. Focuses on core subjects for mainstream students

4. Requires expertise in both models

“The real question educators need to ask is, ‘What kind of innovation is best for my school, my classroom, and my students?’ And the answer can be varied depending on the audience and your goals. That’s why it’s important to understand how different kinds of innovations are affecting schools,” said Staker.

According to Staker, the hybrid models available through blended learning can help sustain and improve K-12 classrooms, because the station rotation model includes an online station to get students acquainted with online learning, a teacher-led instructional station, and a collaboration station.

This type of station rotation model also helps teacher’s ability to offer small group instruction and differentiated instruction, she said.

“One of the best indicators of a blended model success is with students in a school in South Central L.A. During the 2012-13 year they achieved an API performance on the California performance index of 991—the highest-performing school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the 10th highest in the state,” noted Staker. “They achieved these results partly because of the station rotation model they had implemented.”

She continued, “Lab rotation models and the flipped classroom are also great hybrid innovations for today’s schools. Not just for student achievement but for cost-control.”

For schools wondering if a sustaining innovation, such as the interactive whiteboard, or a disruptive technology, like online learning, is a better fit, Staker suggests developing a two-part strategy.

“Try to do a mix of both. Start with the problems you need to solve–your core problems, such as core course improvement for traditional learners. These core problems are usually a good fit with sustaining innovations or hybrid innovations. Next, move to your non-consumption problems, such as offering AP courses or resources for non in-building students. Non-consumption problems are usually a good fit for disruptive innovations.”

However, Staker emphasized that just because a disruptive innovation, like online learning, isn’t a perfect fit now, implementing hybrids like blended learning is a good idea, because the Institute “anticipate[s] that over time the disruptive models will take over high schools.”

“What’s interesting to consider here,” said Pam Moran, superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools in Virginia, “is not just the technology needed to implement these disruptive innovations, but also the pedagogy. We call this disruptive pedagogy, or how teachers can change the curriculum and practice to match the disruptive learning.”

Moran concluded, “Investing in both sustaining and disruptive innovations in our schools is important because the kids need to feel comfortable with these changes in learning, too; that’s where sustaining comes in. However, we know it’s the kids that will drive the disruptive innovations for the future.”

For more information on this webinar, as well as other important topics in education, visit and join CoSN.