Monday, January 10, 2011

LWF11 - David Bott, Director of Innovation Programmes, Technology Strategy Board

Title: Learning from Disruption

What does it mean to learn from disruption? Disruption is about discontinuity, it causes disorder and it is painful. Do we really want to do that? David Bott started by talking about glass drinking containers - why glass? It keeps it's shape, it doesn't melt in high temperatures and you can see through it. There are problems though - one of them is the number of people injured by smashed drinking glasses every Saturday night. It was the Romans who chose glass and it shows how difficult it is to disrupt long established patterns that we still use it today despite the disadvantages.

Next example is the development of the internal combustion engine - at least in part, it developed and has continued to develop in tandem with the the oil industry. Even major problems (e.g. global warming) and concerted effort from governments have made minimal impact on practice. The market evolves relatively slowly. What is it we really want from cars - what do we use a car for? Cars have not really been disruptive technology - they have evolved.

The Internet and digital technology has changed rapidly. For example, in retail, look at the growth of Amazon. In a very short space of time, it has gone from being a novelty for buying books to something that delivers all sorts of stuff to us on a regular basis. Online retailers collect all sorts of information about our buying habits. Is this disruptive? David says no. Tescos knowing what we buy is not significantly different from the man in the corner shop knowing I like Hobnobs.

Disruptive learning. Is learning about content or about process? Learning in schools and universities is still largely about books. Yet now, when people want to know stuff know, they don't concentrate on stuffing things into their heads, they look to access it online. Question is therefore, why do we have education? Why did it develop the way it did? There is always a drive for standardisation - look for images of classrooms from round the world (and through history) they look remarkably similar. How do we disrupt education?

1 comment:

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