Is K-12 public education being disrupted? : an exploration of the theory of disruptive innovation and online learning




Reilly, Austin Jackson

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In 2008, Christensen, Horn, and Johnson (2008) predicted that by 2019, 50% of high school courses would be online. This paper assesses the progress from 2008 until 2017 toward that prediction. In order to make that assessment, I provide an overview of the current state of online learning and describe the ways in which it has grown since 2008. Then I describe Christensen et al.’s (2008) theory of disruptive innovation, how Christensen et al. (2008) believe their theory explains the history of education reform in the United States, and why Christensen et al. (2008) believe the theory of disruptive innovation justifies their aforementioned prediction regarding the proliferation of online learning. Finally, I discuss the implications of the outcome of the prediction for the theory of disruptive innovation and the role the theory has for forward-thinking researchers and educators involved in online learning.


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