Jeffry Overlie

Jeffry Overlie is an International Baccalaureate (IB) coordinator for Fridley Public Schools in Minnesota. He also works as an adjunct professor of education at Bethel University.

Disruptive Innovation and PLCs

A couple of years ago I read the book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns (2010) by Christensen, Horn, and Johnson. It was an interesting read that outlined how technology has the potential to revolutionize how we meet the needs of students in our classrooms. In a nutshell, the authors argued that if used correctly, technological innovations will allow for greater student-centered classrooms and revolutionize the way students are educated.

When I finished the book, I was inspired, but I was also skeptical about whether our educational system would ever embrace the changes the authors outlined. Today, I find myself in the middle of the exact disruption described in the book. A school I work with, Shekou International School, has rolled out a 1:1 student-managed iPad program in grades 4 through 7.

In the four months I have observed this model, I have seen remarkable positive change. For example, there has been a significant increase in engagement as students use applications such as 30/30, Flipboard, Evernote, and Dropbox to organize and manage their resources and daily routines. There is also evidence of student-initiated differentiation, with students showcasing learning in new ways via applications such as iMovie, Popplet, Educreations, and Aurasma. Opportunities for collaboration have also been expanded with applications such as Skype, FaceTime, iMessage, and Edmodo.

So, what does this have to do with the implementation of PLCs in our schools? After all, classrooms in this school and others are being turned upside down by this disruption, so clearly the focus of PLCs should shift, right? Absolutely not. There is no arguing the positive impact that disruptive innovation is having on classrooms and student achievement, but this does not change the core beliefs of PLCs. Schools should continue to focus their attention on answering the four critical questions of PLCs:

  • What are students supposed to learn?
  • How do we know when they have learned it?
  • How will we respond when they have not learned it?
  • How will we respond when they have learned it?

It is clear that disruptive innovation will change how we go about answering the four critical questions of PLCs. In fact, I have no doubt that we will be able to leverage technology such as the iPad to become more effective in answering these questions and implementing PLCs. The introduction of disruptive innovation, however, does not replace PLCs. It is simply another tool which will make PLCs even stronger.



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It is interesting that you have identified that students have become more responsive to incorporating technology into the learning process. The more that I am around the younger generation, I see their minds taken away by the various modes of technology be it Ipads, Ipods, Cell phones, tablets, etc. In order to increase student achievement, we as educators must seek ways to keep them motivated and engaged. In this day and time, electronics and modes of technology is one way to do this. Just as "notac" says, there is an importance in incorporating the use of technology into our PLCs so that we can become (if not already) just as technologically savvy as the younger generation.

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In creating 21st century learners it is vital that we use technology as much as we can in the classroom. It will help curve disruptive behaviors and unmotivated students. Technology incorporates many learning styles allowing more success for students. Students are able to have many different hands on activities through the use of Ipads or tablets. I believe it is essential to incorporate this in our PLCs. We are able collaborate with colleagues and share what we are learning in using this type of technology.

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I find this article to be fascinating, yet so true. By adding this technology, we are developing hands-on activities and reaching kids through their world. However, I agree, we still should be held accountable for PLCs. I do not have access to Ipods, but I would love to have this technology available for my students.

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I teach 5th grade and have just flipped my class. My students watch my video lessons at home, online, and what used to be homework is now completed in class. I did this in order to have more one-on-one time with students during class. In this regard I have embraced technology but it was in the service of a need I perceived after much reflection. I strongly believe in technology as a teaching and learning tool; however, I also question the wisdom of giving every child an iPad simply because I don't know of any real data pointing to this approach as being any better than good lesson plans with a dose of hands on learning. Most of you have probably read this by now, but it is always good to look at an alternative approach or opinion. The following link gives food for thought. in
I am truly excited about the changes I made in my classroom, but I am not yet convinced that my flipped classroom is better than what I have done in the past. I will need more time to look at the data, and the performance of my students. This discussion is a perfect example of the continuing need for PLC's. Teachers who are blazing the trail need to be able to share their experiences in an honest, open, and nonjudgmental setting.

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My school has 1 cart with about 10 iPads on it. I don't think it has ever been used because there is an issue with accessing them (that's a whole other story in itself). I am an exceptional education teacher and I teach in a co-taught classroom but if I taught a resource class I would definitely incorporate technology, specifically iPads, in my classroom. Students are more engaged when they have the opportunity to use these tools for learning.

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I was able to attend a conference about using technology in the classroom. What I discovered about how teachers know what students have learned is simple. The students will preform a task that they need to complete using the technology, such as the I-pad. The students would complete an assignment and then would submit that to the teacher. Many website for technology allow for e mail submissions. I do not have I-pads for my students, but I would love to have access to them.

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I will have access to iPads for the first time next school year in my 5th grade mathematics classes. Could you elaborate on how Skehou Internation School uses the iPads on a daily basis, especially in mathematics, to create student-centered classrooms?

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