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From the ED 2.5.15

Dear Colleagues, 

Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve School by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker is a follow-up to the groundbreaking work Disrupting Class by Christensen, Horn, and Johnson. Horn co-founded and serves as Executive Director (education program) of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. The Institute and the work of Horn and Staker over the past six years has brought the term ‘blended learning’ into the mainstream of education. Their research has now shown us this is not a “fad” and is not “online learning” but a methodology for 21st Century Learning that is here to stay. Much of the book discusses the various modalities for blended learning and how a school, and its leadership, may approach implementing a form of blended learning into their school and culture. Chapter 8 – “Choose The Model brings together much of the discussion and research presented throughout the book.

In this chapter the authors present six (6) questions to be contemplated:

  1. What problem are you trying to solve?
  2. What type of team do you need to solve the problem?
  3. What do you want students to control?
  4. What do you want the primary role of the teacher to be?
  5. What physical space can you use?
  6. How many internet-connected devices are available?

As I read through these questions and thought about all that was discussed throughout the book, it was crystal clear to me that that roles of the various constituent groups that MISBO serves is critical to the success for a school in answering these questions and implementing a new program.

  1. For the business officers who are the gatekeepers of the resources the implications are significant for personnel and facilities questions – the two largest expenses a school must manage. On page 41 an example is provided about Rocketship Education which has approximately 75% of the teachers and 75% of the facility space of a typical elementary school with the same number of students. Imagine the financial implications to your school if you are able to reduce the faculty cost by 25% – salaries could be significantly increased/tuition could be lowered/etc.
  2. People are the most valuable asset (and the most expensive resource) for every one of our schools. The Human Resources professionals in our schools are ultimately responsible for ensuring that our schools are staffed properly to meet our missions. As question #4 above asks – what will be the primary role of our teachers? The staffing model and therefore the hiring model that our schools have essentially used for decades needs to change. Whatever we call the primary education leaders in the future – teacher, coach, farmer, mentor – they are unlikely to require the same skills and experience in the future as they have in the past. The HR professionals in our schools need to understand the potential impact on the changing education landscape as they help properly staff our schools.
  3. Question #5 asks about the physical space that will be required. It is unlikely that newly built or remodeled schools will look much like what we have known for over a century. So many of our schools feel constrained in their innovation and programs by their physical environment. Flexibility is the driving factor as we evaluate new physical spaces. By creating flexible spaces, and spending more time outside of ‘school’ the overall space requirements are likely to decrease, freeing valuable resources to invest in programs that support the mission and our students. Facility Directors will need to be more creative and innovative and must be involved in the discussion before any new facility is built or remodeled.
  4. Technology is ubiquitous. As one technology director said to me several years ago, “technology must be like oxygen – it must be there and it must work”. It is time for our schools to understand this thought and provide the resources required so our faculty and staff are able to do what they need to do anytime, anywhere. Successful blended learning programs are dependent upon the internet and bandwidth – not on any one type or brand of device. The 21st century technology leaders in our schools do not look much like the ones from only a few years ago. These people are not in a server room worried about network administration. They are education leaders and are integral to any decision made by school leadership to implement a blended learning program or frankly any program in our schools.

MISBO continues to be true to our mission of supporting the business operations of independent schools. The primary constituent groups include: business officers, human resources personnel, technology leaders, and facilities professionals. Each of these groups serves a critical role in the daily operation and future success of our schools. In addition to those we reach through our purchasing consortium, we now reach librarians, media specialists, curriculum directors, and teachers through our Electronic Resources program. MISBO will continue to provide the professional development, networking, and purchasing programs that support our schools in the 21st century and into the future.

As you are reading this the MISBO staff and board are spending two days together considering the future direction of MISBO. I want to thank the board members for their time and dedication to our association. Your leadership is essential to our future success. In the near future you will see information and a call for nominations for new MISBO board members. If you are interested in helping guide the future of our association, or if you know someone who would be qualified, be sure to nominate yourself or someone else.



Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO
Twitter: @MISBOconnects   @Marcll
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