The musings of an empathetic mum, teacher, leader and global digital citizen
(aka Mrs V)

PART 14: Digital Disruption

Digital Disruption is sweeping the world. It is the change that occurs when new digital technologies affect existing societal structures, goods, services and expectations in a manner that is highly disruptive to an industry.

Let’s take for example the sweeping rise of ridesharing services such as Uber, that have almost single-handedly disrupted the Taxi industry. Then there is Airbnb, who have started to open up accommodation options to travellers beyond their wildest dreams, and moreso, have allowed homeowners to capitalise on their investment in ways they had never considered in a traditional model.

Netflix of course has captured more than just my family, with its ease of access anytime—anywhere, and has redefined what ‘family movie night’ now looks like. This was evident as I explained to my children a few years back the concept of a video store. They stared at me with amazement as I explained that when a new movie came out on video sometimes there were just not enough in the store to go around and you would have to wait till someone returned theirs to get a copy to watch.  The horror!!

Disruption is all around.

Now before we panic about what this might mean for us and our jobs, our children and their future, it is helpful to consider the fact that disruption is not new. In fact, it has been around for hundreds of years. That’s right, as parents and grandparents we have already lived through many different ‘disruptions’.

Take for example the invention and success of the car and television. Consider what this disruption did to the horse and carriage business or radio?! Or we could consider the disruption of digital cameras which caught Kodak off guard. Now while in this instance many see Kodak as simply not keeping up with technology and not being forward thinking enough, what actually occurred was a significant drop in the necessity of one of their biggest business portfolios—film.

You see, Kodak had in fact over invested in the production and perfection of film technology, so much so that they owned their own silver mills. What they did not see coming was the speed at which digital technology would take off. The innovation and change which they truly needed to promote was in fact their digital camera technology.

FUN FACT: It is a little known fact that Kodak was actually one of the front runners in the innovation of digital cameras, however, their limited investment in this area compared to their film technology let them down, greatly.

Disruption of any kind is progress and change on a grand scale. It is the insertion of new innovations that will shift the resourcing demands, outcomes and thinking of a generation of people and businesses.

So why is the topic of Disruption important for you to understand as parents? Because the education sector and your children are not immune from disruption. In fact, I would assert that your children are already experiencing disruption on a scale never seen before. It is what some experts are calling the Next (Fourth) Industrial Revolution.

So What Does Disruption Mean for Educators and Parents?

Change management, change fatigue, change adaptation and the speed of change are all significant factors for us to be aware of. It is important to arm ourselves with enough information regarding digital innovation and change to know how to support our children, how to manage and help them manage their digital domains, and how to respond when confronted with disruption that clashes with our own beliefs or experiences as parents.

As educators today we are faced with a variety of disruptions. Let’s take for example the disruption of big data. Translated, this means that educators today, in particular schools that have embraced digital innovation and learning management systems, have access to significant amounts of data analytics. This can greatly assist educators to deliver a more personalised learning experience to students rather than a one-size-fits-all education. Another by-product of big data is the overwhelming nature of the content. An educator’s ability to discern the most important data to bring about meaningful improvement for a student is critical, and is subsequently a skill, that due to digital disruption, needs to be developed in earnest.

Further digital disruptions in education include the anytime/anywhere nature of technologies such as phones, smart watches and portable devices. Then there is the expansive world of online educational platforms—such as Khan Academy and HarvardX, where students, teachers and parents can put themselves through university-scale courses virtually for free.

Finally, I raise what I call the ‘very near future of learning’ – the inevitable insertion of virtual reality and augmented reality platforms into classrooms and homes. Having been fortunate enough to experience some amazing and (expensive) technology in this area I can say that this is not a matter of if it happens, but when.

Digital Disruption, or Industrial Disruption typically marks a changed or emerging need in the market. For us, that market is Education. It is for this reason that I lie in bed reading tech blogs, listening to podcasts and viewing Ted Talks. It is why I join Twitter feeds, Facebook groups and continue to cultivate my Flipbook.

For I know this to be true… disruption is inevitable, ongoing and necessary. The question I need to be able to answer as an educator and parent is, ‘How will I respond to the disruptions in my life and work to bring about meaningful change for my children and students?’

Wishing you the most amazing week. Talk more soon,

♥ Mrs V xxx

(Novice Minecraft player, Level 11 Clash Royale Clan Leader,  Level 42 Farmer, firm but loving digital parent, mistake-maker and Head of Junior School)