Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Is podcasting a "disruptive technology" for education?

Clayton Christensen said, "A key characteristic of a disruptive technology is that it heralds a change in the basis of competition." In his book, The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen defines disruptive technology and discusses repeatedly how disruptive technologies have historically changed the paradigms of whole industries.

An example he often cites is the disk drive industry. According to Christensen the ability to develop smaller lighter disk drives that met the emerging needs of new markets ultimately disrupted the markets of the then established bigger disk drive industry. This happened despite the fact that, when smaller disk drives were introduced, the big drives then offered higher storage capacities, better performance, were cheaper per unit of storage, were more reliable and seemingly "better" than the smaller drives. The small drives had adequate performance and offered customers product possibilities that had previously not been available. New products and new markets were created.

Now, we take small laptop and notebook computers containing small disk drives for granted. So, what is one big advantage of podcasting in education? As in the small disk drive model, it may be portability.

Via podcasting, instruction can be packaged to take advantage of the small size and portability of devices like the iPod. As long as instruction is designed with clear performance objectives in mind this could be an incredible tool to put in the hands of educators.

Is podcasting a disruptive tecnology for education? It may be too soon to tell. But, after less than a week in existence, a Google search on "Edupodder" turned up over 410 hits. [ This one is in the UK. ] There seems to be real interest in this technology in education.

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