Michael Horn

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Authority on the Future of Education and Blended Learning Expert; Co-Founder and Distinguished Fellow, Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation; Author of “Disrupting Class” and “Blended”

Biography

Michael Horn is a co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute (CCI) and the former executive director of its education program. At the CCI, he led a team that educates policymakers and community leaders on the power of disruptive innovation in the K-12 and higher education spheres through its research. His team aimed to transform monolithic, factory-model education systems into student-centric designs that educate every student successfully and enable each to realize his or her fullest potential. Currently, Michael serves as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions, which offers innovation services to higher education institutions.

Michael published the groundbreaking book “Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools” (John Wiley & Sons, November 2014), with co-author Heather Staker,  that serves as a practical field guide and eye-opener for the builders and influencers of the next generation of K-12 learning environments. In 2008, he co-authored the award-winning “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns with Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen and Curtis W. Johnson. Newsweek cited the book 14th on its list of “Fifty Books for Our Times.” Michael has written several white papers about blended learning and is co-editor, with Frederick Hess, of the book “Private Enterprise and Public Education.” He has also written articles for numerous publications including Forbes, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Huffington Post, and Education Week.

He testifies regularly at state legislative sessions and is a frequent keynote speaker at education conferences and planning sessions around the U.S. Tech&Learning magazine named him to its list of the 100 most important people in the creation and advancement of the use of technology in education. Michael was also selected as a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow to study innovation in education in Vietnam and Korea.

In addition, he serves on a variety of boards, including Fidelis Education, Education Elements, Global Personalized Academics, the Silicon Schools Fund, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Minerva Institute. He serves as an advisor to Intellus Learning, Pedago, Knod, Everest Education, AltSchool, Degreed, Noodle Partners, and the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University. Michael is also an executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research about education policy.

Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a master’s from the Harvard Business School.

Videos

Articles

Clayton Christensen Institute logo

Michael Horn's Blog for the Clayton Christensen Institute

Forbes logo

Michael Horn's Blog for Forbes

Michael Horn's Blog for EducationNext

Michael Horn's Column for EdSurge

New York Times logo

Law Schools Are Going Online to Reach New Students

June 22, 2016

Reinventing Research

May 12, 2016

Now That It's an Awful Time to be a New Lawyer, Law Schools Need to Prove Their Worth

March 15, 2016

Clayton Christensen Institute logo

Bullish on Blended-Learning Clusters

January 13, 2016

district administration logo

Broader Response Needed to Close Achievement Gaps

January 2016

Regulatory Noise Stifles, Slows Rise of Competency-Based Learning

October 27, 2015

The End of the Master’s Degree?

August 26, 2015

Improved Analytics Critical to the Personalization of Online Learning

July 31, 2015

How Blended Learning Increases Teacher Job Satisfaction & Retention

July 14, 2015

Children Should Advance in School According to Skill, Not Age

June 20, 2015

How to Maximize Blended Learning in the Classroom

May 12, 2015

Interview with Michael Horn, Author of the Book “Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools”

March 30, 2015

Huffington Post logo

Unprecedented Opportunities: Online Learning Explosion Empowers GenDIY

February 9, 2015

Designing a Blended Learning Program

January 28, 2015

Obama, Free Community College May Not Work

January 21, 2015

A Q&A About Blended Learning and What It Means for Education

January 16, 2015

Clayton Christensen Institute logo

Cisco Networking Academy Provides Clues for Future of Testing

December 11, 2014

Blended Learning Is About More Than Technology

December 9, 2014

How Colleges Are Facing the Future

September 22, 2014

The Flipped Classroom: A Sneak Peek at Blended by Michael Horn and Heather Staker

June 24, 2014

Huffington Post logo

The Global Search For Education: Got Tech? United States

October 24, 2013

Forbes logo

Behind the Scenes in the Making of a MOOC

October 14, 2013

Disrupting the Classroom

February 7, 2013

Why Steve Jobs Would Have Loved Digital Learning

May 31, 2012

Biography

Michael Horn is a co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute (CCI) and the former executive director of its education program. At the CCI, he led a team that educates policymakers and community leaders on the power of disruptive innovation in the K-12 and higher education spheres through its research. His team aimed to transform monolithic, factory-model education systems into student-centric designs that educate every student successfully and enable each to realize his or her fullest potential. Currently, Michael serves as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions, which offers innovation services to higher education institutions.

Michael published the groundbreaking book “Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools” (John Wiley & Sons, November 2014), with co-author Heather Staker,  that serves as a practical field guide and eye-opener for the builders and influencers of the next generation of K-12 learning environments. In 2008, he co-authored the award-winning “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns with Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen and Curtis W. Johnson. Newsweek cited the book 14th on its list of “Fifty Books for Our Times.” Michael has written several white papers about blended learning and is co-editor, with Frederick Hess, of the book “Private Enterprise and Public Education.” He has also written articles for numerous publications including Forbes, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Huffington Post, and Education Week.

He testifies regularly at state legislative sessions and is a frequent keynote speaker at education conferences and planning sessions around the U.S. Tech&Learning magazine named him to its list of the 100 most important people in the creation and advancement of the use of technology in education. Michael was also selected as a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow to study innovation in education in Vietnam and Korea.

In addition, he serves on a variety of boards, including Fidelis Education, Education Elements, Global Personalized Academics, the Silicon Schools Fund, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Minerva Institute. He serves as an advisor to Intellus Learning, Pedago, Knod, Everest Education, AltSchool, Degreed, Noodle Partners, and the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University. Michael is also an executive editor of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research about education policy.

Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a master’s from the Harvard Business School.

Speech Topics

Blended Learning: Education for 21st Century Learners

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century greatly impacted K-12 education: multiple grades were taught in one classroom and prepared students for factory work by teaching the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. In the 20th century, educators became more specialized and we experienced separation of levels, and expanded students’ knowledge of specific subjects. For more than 100 years, all students were taught the same material in the same way, without a thought to the differences in their personal learning styles. And still, the introduction of computers into schools over the last 30 years hasn’t changed or improved the way students learn. Today’s learners use more than laptops; they’re using applications. Everything about their lives is digital – smartphones, tablets and now virtual reality systems – woven through the very fabric of their being. Now that we’re in the midst of the Digital Revolution and as the nature of our work continues to change, so too must the method in which we educate future workers. Michael Horn illustrates how blended learning – online learning in conjunction with traditional instruction – is emerging within schools to create more personalized learning models for students. Horn showcases the different ways blended learning is growing and evolving, and describes how it can realize its exciting potential to transform the education into a student-centric one.

Changing the Way the World Learns through Innovation

What does it take to lead schools and education systems to help students develop the competencies they will need in the 21st century? Using the theories of disruptive innovation, Michael Horn paints a vision for the transformation and future of education. As one example, online learning has the potential to create a student-centric education system that effectively educates all students by personalizing learning. Horn discusses not only how this plays out – in the U.S. and abroad – but also what educators, policymakers and others must do to ensure this disruptive innovation realizes its promise. He also dissects the successes of countries already doing this well, what lessons we should (or should not) draw, and what the implications may be if we do.

Horn can also speak more generally about the globalization of learning, and the need for facilitating better, richer understanding of cultural/country contexts for innovation in education. After all, education is not solely about curriculum; it is about giving students knowledge and skills to help them engage with the world, encouraging them to explore how knowledge is product, distributed and utilized globally.

The Growth Mindset: Transforming Learning with Competency-Based Education

Higher education is facing an identity crisis of sorts: Does its model still make sense in the 21st century? Do colleges equip students for success in the contemporary economy? Is college worth it? As colleges and universities address these questions and make their case that a college education is, indeed, still relevant and essential, they must also account for the significant ways in which their students are changing. The classic, faculty-led, one-size-fits-all approach to learning has not significantly changed in hundreds of years. Is it time to embrace a different, more customized, student-centric model?

Michael Horn says emphatically yes. He delves deep into competency-based education (CBE), what it means, how it’s structured and why it will help transform the future of education. Among the dimensions of CBE he will discuss: affordability, aligning to meaty outcomes, ensuring students’ mastery of specific knowledge and skills, and tapping the hidden (and uncredentialed) talents of learners – all of combine to expose students to new ways of thinking about the world, and instilling in them the abilities to communicate, collaborate, and adapt to the challenges they will face in their careers and lives.

The Future of Education Policy: Moving from Inputs to Outputs to Outcomes

It seems the policies that create access to online learning are outpacing policies that transform the system and focus on learning outcomes, says Michael Horn. Policymakers must take action to realize the promise. He discusses why the focus on outcomes is a positive trend – it makes sense to pay providers not just for serving students but also for student performance. But we must also eliminate the input-focused rules that dictate how school leaders accomplish these goals; Horn explores how. He also dissects other policies that need to be struck down – from those dictating student-to-teacher ratios, teacher-certification requirements, or rules governing seat time. “We need to give them [school operators] autonomy, so long as they are held accountable,” Horn believes. That we need innovation to better educate America’s youth is not in doubt; to get there, however, it’s time to start following the fundamental rules of innovation. And, as Horn explains, making the substantial shift from micromanaging inputs to focusing policy on creating the context for the great outcomes we all want realized.

Beyond Good & Evil: The Role of For-Profit Providers in 21st Century Education

Many educators and observers fiercely contend that for-profit businesses should stay out of education, an argument often stemming from fear that a focus on maximizing profits will bring impure motives to the crucial processes of teaching and learning. These concerns often spring from misunderstandings of the factors at play – and for-profits typically don’t think very seriously or in-depth about their unique advantages, nor their very real drawbacks. Michael Horn talks about why this is – and why it must change.

Horn dissects the productive and valuable role for-profit educators play in American education. But, he stresses, it’s a role that must be earned. He explores how they can make the case for themselves, including by embracing quality-sensitive policies, policing their own ranks, supporting research that documents the value they deliver, and engaging in the public square. However, the difference in whether for-profit dynamism plays a constructive role or a less productive one lies less with for-profits than with the policy landscape they inhabit – and the way educators and other officials choose to utilize and scrutinize them. “On that score, we need a better understanding of for-profits, including their strengths, flaws, and what kinds of conditions bring out their best results.”

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Books & Research

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Recommendations

“Michael is a pro when it comes to how technology is shaping the future of PK-12 education. As a speaker, he does his homework, he is easy to work with, he manages technology with ease and he responds to audience questions thoughtfully. He was well received as both a keynote speaker and webinar thought leader. We look forward to working with him again in the future.”

Jeffrey Shields, President and CEO, NBOA

“The attendance at the 2015 Niswonger Foundation School Success Symposium was the largest ever. Comments from our teachers and administrators have let us know they are talking and making plans to use personalized learning in their classrooms. Michael opened the door to new thinking and answered many questions. It was amazing for our educators to hear the local, state, and national views on personalizing learning for our students.”

–Vivian Franklin, Executive Director i3 Grant,
Niswonger Foundation

Praise for “BLENDED”

“There is a lot of hope and misunderstanding around online learning and its relation to in-person learning. ‘Blended’ clearly shows that it isn’t an either-or proposition, but rather that the most likely future is one in which online experiences enrich the physical ones and vice versa. Even more, the book gives concrete examples of how educators, parents, and learners can move us all to a world where technology makes the classroom more human, not less.”

Salman Khan, Founder, Khan Academy

“The authors’ real genius is in using research and theory to take the guesswork out of moving our schools forward into the twenty-first century.”

Jim Hunt, Foundation Chair, The Hunt Institute; Former Governor, North Carolina

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Horn, Michael