25 Trends Disrupting Education Right Now

25 Trends Disrupting Education Right Now

by Terry Heick

Disruption doesn’t sound like a pretty word, but in the long run, it can be a beautiful thing.

Disruption is about shifting power.

Eroding patterns.

Breaking the system.

In education, this can come from the most unlikely of sources. While brilliant folks struggle to their marrow every day to conjure ideas that will transform education, in other cases, it just seems to happen out of nowhere.

In these cases, small moves via modest platforms create large ripples.

It isn’t always from the most powerful technology, the most noble intents, or even the best ideas that disrupt. In fact, it is impossible to predict what will allow something to “catch”–there are simply so many moving parts.

So we’ve created a scale. This scale visually demonstrates the inherent disruptive potential of recent and current education initiatives or technological advancements.

It is not meant to be exhaustive, and it’s absolutely subjective, but maybe we’ll be lucky enough that it might spark a conversation.

And it is through informed conversation that more disruption can grow.

Note that this is not intended to be an evaluation of the quality of each of these initiatives. In that way, it’s not suggesting that “smartphone integration” has more educational value than MITx. Rather, it is strictly a look at the potential of that initiative to disrupt existing systems.

Re-balance power.

And catalyze new learning forms.

More Disruption

  1. The Internet 

  2. New Learning Models

  3. Informal & Self-Directed Learning Platforms  

  4. BYOD/Smartphone Integration

  5. MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses)

  6. Service-Based Learning/Place-Based Education

  7. Growth of “Homeschooling”

  8. Flipped Classroom

  9. Project-Based Learning

  10. iTunesU

  11. Learni.st/MentorMob

  12. TED-Ed

  13. 1:1 iPads

  14. MITx/EdX and OCW

  15. Social Media Integration

  16. 1:1 Laptop programs

  17. MIT OpenCourseWare

  18. Non 1:1 laptop-iPad programs

  19. Apple Textbook Initiative

  20. Professional Learning Communities

  21. Teach for America

  22. Charter Schools

  23. Gender-Specific Classes

  24. Race to the Top

  25. Common Core Adoption (i.e., one set of national standards)

Less Disruption

Would love any feedback, re-ordering, or blatantly-missing initiatives on our facebook page, or here in the comments.


  • Monika Hardy says:

    imagine.. instead of waiting for any of these incredible ideas to scale… we scale the individual. not ridding ourselves of the compulsion piece.. but letting the web (ie:networked individualism via b well man) to help us connect to people and ideas.. for gatherings that matter. Chang up Ed.. who's together in a space, per choice

  • Terry Heick says:

    Yes. And you're getting at what is among the most powerful ingredients for learning–reasons to learn. In the past there has been discussion of motivation in terms of extrinsic versus extrinsic, which still sees students adhering entirely to industrialized learning forms while allowing for whether or not they're motivated to do so by internal or external causes. "Who's together in a space, per choice" represents an important shift in where and why students are learning, and how technology can promote that endlessly. Great comment.

  • anitav says:

    Interesting list – each piece deserves an entire space and time for deep discussion! What they have in common is a wonderful theory and a challenging learning to practice curve.

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