Join our Failure to Disrupt Virtual Book Club this Fall
Join Justin Reich, guest presenters and students from MIT for a ten week book club exploring themes in Failure to Disrupt and implications for remote learning this fall. Every Monday from 3-4pm ET, starting September 21.
About The Book
Proponents of large-scale learning have boldly promised that technology can disrupt traditional approaches to schooling, radically accelerating learning and democratizing education. Much-publicized experiments, often underwritten by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, have been launched at elite universities and in elementary schools in the poorest neighborhoods. Such was the excitement that, in 2012, the New York Times declared the “year of the MOOC.” Less than a decade later, that pronouncement seems premature.
In Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, Justin Reich delivers a sobering report card on the latest supposedly transformative educational technologies. Reich takes readers on a tour of MOOCs, autograders, computerized “intelligent tutors,” and other educational technologies whose problems and paradoxes have bedeviled educators. Learning technologies—even those that are free to access—often provide the greatest benefit to affluent students and do little to combat growing inequality in education. And institutions and investors often favor programs that scale up quickly, but at the expense of true innovation. It turns out that technology cannot by itself disrupt education or provide shortcuts past the hard road of institutional change.
Technology does have a crucial role to play in the future of education, Reich concludes. We still need new teaching tools, and classroom experimentation should be encouraged. But successful reform efforts will focus on incremental improvements, not the next killer app.
Key Themes in the Book Covered: Genres & Dilemmas of Learning at Scale
About the Author
Justin Reich is a learning scientist interested in learning at scale, practice-based teacher education, and the future of learning in a networked world. He is an Assistant Professor in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the director of the MIT Teaching Systems Lab.
Join Justin at any upcoming event. Virtual events are open to the public.
What people are saying
"At the end of the book, Reich offers four questions that he finds especially useful to consider when examining a new large-scale educational technology. Perhaps the most useful question is the first: “What’s new?” Despite what “edtech evangelists” might claim, new technologies often have closely related ancestors that can help predict their success, he argues. In the end, however, new technologies alone are unlikely to have a substantial impact on schooling. We must also be open to changing educational goals and expectations according to the possibilities offered by emergent technologies."
- Kanwal Singh
"If you have already decided that educational technology is a utopia or a dystopia, there’s no need to read this—or, indeed, any-- book. But if you desire a clear, balanced, and insightful evaluation of the range of educational technologies, Justin Reich’s book will inform and delight you."
- Howard Gardner
“Technology in learning carries a high cost economically and culturally. In a game of trade-offs between efficiency and human development, research remains the critical lens to guide decisions. This exceptional book is the best resource currently available to guide readers to understanding the failure of technology in classrooms, what needs to be done to make a real impact, and the critical importance of education as community.”
- George Siemens
“Reich is to be congratulated on writing an important corrective to our public fascination with ‘disrupting’ higher education. It is all the more devastating for its even-handedness. There is no cheap online solution to delivering world class higher education that meets our nation’s ideals and needs. Anything proposed to do so runs roughshod over closely held values: rigor, access, equality, and justice. This is a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in the present and future of higher education.”
- Tressie McMillan Cottom
“This magisterial book offers a remarkable account of the different approaches to online learning and what can be expected of them. Comprehensive, wide-ranging, and incisive, this book offers a definitive account of the past, present and future of technology-assisted learning. If you had to pick one book to learn about all things online learning, this would be the one.”
- Jal Mehta
Recent News & Resources from the Author
The late 2000s and 2010s saw the full arc of a dramatic hype cycle in learning at scale, where charismatic technologists made bold and ultimately unfounded predictions about how technologies would disrupt schooling systems. Looking toward the 2020s, a more productive approach to learning at scale is the tinkerers stance, one that emphasizes incremental improvements on the long history of learning at scale.
“In what follows, we highlight emerging best practices and research-based guidance related to the following recommendations: Recommendation 1: Continue to place issues of equity at the center of remote learning plans, with increased guidance for special populations. Recommendation 2: Instructional guidance should acknowledge the challenges and constraints of home-based, remote learning. Recommendation 3: Communicate information clearly with multiple target audiences in mind.”
“Amid the intense pressure to get remote learning right, right now, it may seem inconceivable to devote scarce resources this May to imagining handwashing routines in September. But experienced crisis managers in many other settings have learned the hard way that in the midst of emergencies, the future has a way of crashing down more quickly than could be expected.”
"Publish good projects and learning resources. Make them accessible. Disseminate widely. Check in with students. Solicit feedback. Plan for re-entry. Schools that do a few simple things well, listen to stakeholders, and plan for the future will likely be in the best position on the other side of this crisis.”
Virtual Book Club Guests
Professor of English at Macomb Community College concentrating on privacy, institutional tech policy, digital redlining, and the re-inventions of discriminatory practices through data mining and algorithmic decision-making, especially as these apply to college students.
September 21 & Nov 16
Founder of Hack Education and author of The Monsters of Education Technology and (soon!) Teaching Machines.
Writer, theorist, speaker, and researcher on learning, networks, technology, analytics and visualization, openness, organizational effectiveness, and complexity in digital environments.
Gale and Steve Kohlhagen Professor of English and American Studies at William & Mary specializing in Rhetoric; Digital Publishing; Feminism & Technology; Digital Humanities; Electronic Literature.
Natalie Rusk and Mitch Resnick
MIT Media Lab Researchers developing creative learning technologies and co-creators of Scratch.
Creative Director of the Education Arcade. He has designed award-winning games in both academic and commercial environments, focusing on what is authentically playful in challenging academic subjects.
American professor of Informatics at the University of California–Irvine.
Former high school math teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator now Chief Academic at Desmos.
Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) focused on teacher evaluation, the measurement of teaching, and its relationship to student growth and development.
Founder of Open Learning Initiative (OLI), former Stanford professor and currently Amazon’s Director of Learning Science.