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Clayton Christensen Institute Names New Leader for Education Division

By guest blogger Leo Doran

A prominent think tank is transitioning to new leadership in its education division after making its mark over the past several years advocating aggressively for schools and communities to embrace blended and personalized learning. 

The Clayton Christensen Institute has announced that Julia Fisher, who joined the organization as a research fellow in 2013, would be taking over for Michael Horn, who served as director of education.  

Fisher will be filling big shoes.  Horn, who stepped down to pursue other professional opportunties, helped shape the national dialogue on education policy by co-authoring books, such as Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns and Blended:Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools.  Horn became well known in education circles for promoting the institute's work at conferences and events around the country where he outlined the institute's commitment to "disruptive innovation" in education.  The institute advocates for such innovation in health care too. 

Fisher, who co-authored the white paper The Educator's Dilemma with the former education director, said in an interview with Education Week that Horn was "an unbelievable intellectual mentor and guide." 

One of Horn's biggest contributions to education, Fisher said, was creating "a language to talk about how technology was or wasn't changing practices in schools," which she believes greatly improved conversations between experts in the field.

In an article for Forbes, Horn said that when he became director of education for the Clayton Christensen Institute in 2007 his goal was to help transition the education system from what he terms "our monolithic, factory-model education system" to "a student-centered one powered by the disruptive innovation of online learning."

While significant strides have been made to push the K-12 system in that direction, such as the growing use of competency-based education, Fisher remains concerned that the K-12 system is not doing enough to integrate personalized learning that puts greater emphasis on addressing the individual strengths and weaknesses of students.

She cautions against wrongheaded policies that simply "digitize" the current system. 

In addition to supporting Horn's vision of expanding personalized and blended learning, Fisher is also eager to move the education division of the institute in new directions.

Under her leadership, she hopes to explore some topics in greater depth, such as how ed tech is likely to change the teaching profession, how to bring social capital to underserved students, and applying Christensen's Jobs to be Done framework to K-12 schools.

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