Disruptive Technology In Education

Today I am preparing for a series of talks I will moderate on disruptive technology in education, and without question my reading list is growing daily. Out there on the web, there are already entire bibliographies that have been inspired by Clayton Christensen’s theory of Disruptive Technology (2005). Quite a few became interested in how his theory of disruptive technology explained events that continually are shaping libraries – academic and otherwise – and higher education in general.

Museums have long-alligned themselves with libraries, especially with respect to funding opportunities available locally, nationally and globally. This article by Andras Szanto warrants a separate blogpost on Groping for Words, stating that “the urgent search is on for a more compelling vocabulary. The challenge is to make a case for the arts without flipping back to utilitarian rhetoric or language that may sound, to some, hopelessly romantic or elitist. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”

If you find anything else along these lines, please let me know — many of us would like to keep growing this bibliography. An entirely comprehensive list can be found in a Zotero library on Christensen in Higher Education, plus Christian’s tag on technorati that leads to more writing by Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square.

Museums and cultural organizations have lost their way in how to speak about the work that they do, and many of the words to describe passion, or love, or inspiration to shape the argument of the arts falls flat in the face of funders and anyone else. I know that disruptive technologies in museum education, and of course in higher education, figures high here – the question is how.

Someone else I plan to spend some time following is Dick Costolo, interviewed earlier this week by Charlie Rose on September 18, 2012.

It should be noted here that according to a 2008 interview with Dorsey, he has regularly cited that three guiding principles, which are shared by the whole company and throughout its culture at Twitter: simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship.[1]

Simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship – certainly these three guiding principles could be applied to art-making and teaching, as well as innovative ways to assert disruptive technologies in education.


Jack Dorsey is an American software architect that had an interest in making “instant messenger” updates available for friends to see. This was a refined concept that eventually grew into what we now know as Twitter. Three guiding principles of this innovative idea are simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship.

Jack had an early fascination with cities and how they work, so he would always carry maps around with him. His attraction with mass-transit and how cities function led him to taking advantage of public transit databases in Manhattan. He built off of his original idea that gave meaning to his overall concept. His idea make clear though working on dispatch software, programming real-time messaging systems for couriers, taxis, and emergency vehicles.

Jack Dorsey’s experience helped him see his idea in a completely new perspective. Taking his seedling of an idea that would update friends of his status, Dorsey completed several field tests before recognizing that the technology available didn’t support his innovative idea. There are times when putting off a project is irrefutable. Jack Dorsey originally came up with his idea in the year 2000 but wasn’t able to execute effectively until 8 years later. Jack was effective in not letting his idea sit for too long but instead taking action when technology would let it thrive.[2]



I finally did order Bourdieu’s Distinction, which I will be posting about in a week or so.

Bio… and hopefulness in defibrillation

My background is in new media and museum education, and I started also working with teen programs in 2006 to the present. I’ve been thinking much more about informal learning environments and tech-driven experimental museum spaces in my doctoral studies in Urban Education, which I started while working on the BMW Gugg Lab project last year. I would be thrilled to talk to you about your writing and work, especially if you are researching technology-based education museum spaces.

Rosanna Flouty, Public Programs Manager (2011)

We use the terms ‘social justice’ and ‘civic responsibility’ in my program and more recently in art museums, but I am hopeful that the field at large could benefit from a little defibrillation. I am extremely impressed with what General Assembly here in New York is doing in terms of informal learning environments and technology, and can see how unaware my museum colleagues (and fellow doctoral students, for that matter) are about GA and spaces like it. I am hopeful that even just getting some of my museum colleagues over to GA is already starting to get some great ideas going… including from last night’s pitches at GA, too!

I am also going to post some quick links for a pair of conferences I organized when I was still at the ICA down at the bottom, if you are at all curious. The first, “Generation O,” was very much influenced by my observations about young activists who were too young to vote in the last election, and how they were using museum platforms to become socially engaged.

I greatly enjoyed pulling those ’09 and ’10 conferences together, mainly because teens were invited as the primary speakers to articulate what they gained from involvement in contemporary art museum programs. And especially in multi-year programs like teen new media classes, teen video programs, and teen arts councils. I am starting to re-visit some of the data I collected back in those years because even speech patterns they use around topics like gender and taboo is fascinating to me – and the conference continues to be held after I left the ICA, which is also sounds just super.


This spring, I have begun to circle with some of the teens that participated in those conferences, with the aim of seeing how much the museum field can learn about formative high school experiences in contemporary art museums.

My research interests are in technology-based informal learning environments both online and off, so please do not hesitate to send me links and articles that you are working on! I’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Skype: rflouty
Twitter: @rflouty

And some conference links…

Generation O – Teen Convening Report (2009) –
Overview for Teen Convening (2010):
Teen Convening Full Report (2011) –