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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 8-10  

Handling disruptive educational innovations: What determines the difference while embracing changes?

Department of Anatomy, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India

Date of Submission18-Feb-2019
Date of Decision24-May-2019
Date of Acceptance15-Jun-2019
Date of Web Publication16-Dec-2019

Correspondence Address:
V Dinesh Kumar
Department of Anatomy, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_61_19

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How to cite this article:
Kumar V D, Barma MD, N. Rajasekhar S S. Handling disruptive educational innovations: What determines the difference while embracing changes?. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2020;13:8-10

How to cite this URL:
Kumar V D, Barma MD, N. Rajasekhar S S. Handling disruptive educational innovations: What determines the difference while embracing changes?. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 24];13:8-10. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/text.asp?2020/13/1/8/272885

Any human endeavor, may it be business or educational, needs face constant innovation, so that it could sustain itself in an ever-changing environment. In a sense, the innovation in an organization can be compared to the biological process of mutation which keeps the species abreast in the survival race.[1] Even though medical colleges cannot be equated to a conventional managerial enterprise, they too undergo periodic metamorphosis. With the advent of new technology, the “disruptive innovations” are incorporated into the research, patient care, and educational domains. Disruptive innovation is a powerful term coined 20 years ago, which denotes a process, that takes root as simple form at the bottom of market and, later, blooms to displace the established paradigms.[2] To quote an example from the context of medical education, the advent of PowerPoint ® presentation turned out to be a disruptive innovation that displaced the conventional slide projectors that were preferred in the past. Similarly, the amplified internet speed has led to the exponential increase in the creation and consumption of educational videos from the free for all platforms such as the Khan Academy.[3] Easy accessibility of high-speed internet has also paved the way for an implementation of an inverted or flipped classrooms, where students can come to class only for consolidating the content learned at home using the internet. Thus, the disruptive innovation intends to dislodge the “status quo”ineducational methodologies, making the old techniques redundant. Given the inevitability of the disruptive innovations, questions arise as to how well these disruptions would be received?

The disruptive innovations of medical academia can be broadly classified into two types based on their characteristics: technology enablers and business model innovators.[4] Another way of classification is based on the expected impact of change, which would result from an innovation.[5] An innovation can be a mere upgradation of an existing process (level 1) or modification of the process (level 2) or transformation of the system (level 3).[5] Popular messenger application, WhatsApp ®, is an example of a technology enabler that enables an easy and a wider dissemination of the information in different formats and has become a new avenue for the scholarly networking across the universities. From the literature [6] and general observation, it is evident that a majority of the health-care professionals, irrespective of their location, have embraced the WhatsApp ® as the preferred medium for communication and as a tool for dissemination of educational resource. In essence, WhatsApp ® has become a new tool for e-teaching and e-learning. In contrast, the alternative teaching learning tools and methodologies such as MOODLE have failed to gain support on equal footing with the likes of WhatsApp ®.

Let us consider the example of e-learning being introduced in the low-resource settings.[7] Initially, there was an access divide, which differentiated those with dexterous technology skills and internet access from those who do not have the same. Subsequently, the access divide was replaced by usage divide, which separated the population who are willing to use from those who are not. Interestingly, the e-learning is increasingly being replaced by m-learning with the rise in the usage of smartphones and their ubiquitous way of catering the content.

Successful accomplishment of a new pedagogy or teaching technique or instructional tool requires three steps.[8] The first is the seed idea, which is conceivably novel to a particular setting, which usually germinates. Second, the seed idea has to be converted into an implementable format or framework. Third, the outcome which results from the execution of innovation should also be measured. The first two steps usually raise the expectation level, and once the framework is put in the public forum and subsequently, the downward slope begins thereafter [Figure 1]. Any organizational setup has laggards who are resistant to understand and adopt the innovative change. As such, reactions to disruptive innovations can range from acceptance/support in the positive end of spectrum to neutrality to rejection/resistance in the negative end of the spectrum.[9] Piderit [10] classified the resistance operating at multiple levels as cognitive, affective, and intentional. Cognitive resistance arises due to differential opinion among stakeholders regarding the innovation, affective resistance is the result of varied feelings ranging from enthusiasm to depression while implementing it and intentional resistance is the outcome of conflicting interests between implementors and executors. Among these, the cognitive resistance can be overcome by providing an optimal sensitization, whereas the affective resistance requires few trial sessions for assimilation. Once these resistances are addressed in a positive manner, the innovation enters an upward trajectory, and if the innovation successfully traverses this phase, it would enter the plateau phase of academic productivity. The balance between enablers and barriers determines the organizational accomplishment of an innovation and an innovation can be deemed successful, if it is positively acknowledged by all the stakeholders and get incorporated into the organizational routines.
Figure 1: Trajectory of an innovation in an educational organization (adapted from Gartner's Hype cycle concept)

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Implementation of disruptive innovation takes diverging course in traditional medical schools from that of the newer medical establishments. According to Christensen and Eyring,[4] the traditional academic environments have failed to keep abreast with disruptive innovations. The reason is the nonalignment of the organizational goals with the individual commitments of the faculty. The faculty of traditional medical schools are often committed to achieving individual goals and works toward them in an established paradigm. Adoption of disruptive innovation requires the individuals to revamp their modus operandi. Traditional or rather archaic methods followed by the older institutions will not compel the individuals to embrace the any disruptive innovation. In contrast, the newer medical schools mostly seek the benefits of embracing the disruptive innovation for the sake of ulterior benefits with respect to students or patients. Moreover, the enthusiastic drive toward implementing the innovation by the certain selective and proactive newer medical schools will overwhelm the cumulative individual commitments of faculty of their organization.

Innovation, particularly those which would potentially disrupt the established patterns, cannot be decoupled from risk taking and experimentation. Indeed, uncertainty is an inevitable companion of an innovative environment. In a complex organization such as a medical school, which harbors intersections of different needs of various stakeholders, problems are usually unpredictable. When level 3 innovations are executed, innovation failure should always be considered as a perpetual risk. Nevertheless, any failure should be considered as a platform for learning, and a thorough analysis [Figure 2] might help in averting further failures in the future. Failure analysis is necessary for analyzing the root cause of failure. Being tolerant to the experience of failure would fortify the team learning experience and reduce the risk of ascribing the blame of failure on the initiator of innovation. A productive environment, which introspects on failure, usually rectifies itself and ultimately would create many innovators, who love to be creative without being overburdened regarding fear of failure.
Figure 2: How to learn from implementing an innovation?

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To conclude, even though a disruptive innovation is considered to be a transformative agent that pushes the stakeholders out of their inertia in positive or negative way, the degree of its acceptance varies depending on the operational dynamics of the institute or department. These innovations can be either blatantly rejected by rigid conversationalists or enthusiastically embraced owing to the organizational benefits. However, there is a need to increase the awareness of oneself toward various innovations occurring in their respective disciplines. The stakeholders readily adopt innovations if they appear to be congruent with the individual's professional ethos. Bating a blind eye toward these innovations could easily make us outdated, especially while competing with future generations.

  References Top

Hoffman A, Holzhuter J. The evolution of higher education: Innovation as natural selection. In: Hoffman A, Spangehl S, editors. Innovation in Higher Education: Igniting the Spark for Success, American Council on Education. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Litttlefield Publishers Inc.; 2012. p. 3-15.  Back to cited text no. 1
Christensen CM. The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press; 1997.  Back to cited text no. 2
Parslow GR. Commentary: The khan academy and the day-night flipped classroom. Biochem Mol Biol Educ 2012;40:337-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Christensen CM, Eyring HJ. The innovative university: Changing the DNA of higher education. In: EDUCAUSE. Washington DC, USA: Forum Futures; 2012. p. 47-53.  Back to cited text no. 4
Serdyukov P. Innovation in education: What works, what doesn't, and what to do about it? J Res Innov Teach Learn 2017;10:4-33.  Back to cited text no. 5
Tazegul G, Bozoglan H, Ogut TS, Balci MK. A clinician's artificial organ? Instant messaging applications in medical care. Int J Artif Organs 2017;40:477-80.  Back to cited text no. 6
Journell W. The inequities of the digital divide: Is e-learning a solution? ELearn Digit Media 2007;4:138-49.  Back to cited text no. 7
Evans R, Leppmann P. Resistance to Innovation in Higher Education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers Inc.; 1970.  Back to cited text no. 8
Vakola M. Multilevel readiness to organizational change: A conceptual approach. J Change Manage 2013;13:96-109.  Back to cited text no. 9
Piderit SK. Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalence: A multidimensional view of attitudes toward an organizational change. Acad Manage Rev 2000;25:783-94.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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