Michael B. Horn

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MIchael Horn photo

Leading Authority on the Future of K-12 and Higher Education; Expert in Transforming Education Through Digital Learning; Co-Founder, Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation; Chief Strategy Officer, Entangled Group; Senior Partner, Entangled Solutions; Award-Winning Author of Five Books on the Future of Learning, including “Choosing College” (2019)

Biography

To innovate in the digital age, businesses must adapt constantly to advancements in technology by drawing upon highly skilled, flexible workers. The problem in finding agile employees across all generations is that our education system is still designed for the industrial – versus knowledge – economy. Michael Horn, a leading expert on disruptive innovation in education, argues that if our economy is to obtain the vital skills it requires to achieve sustainable growth, we must radically reimagine our approach to educating and upskilling people for the future of work and society.

The central problem with education, says Horn, is that schools operate on the model of an assembly line as they seek to standardize the way we deliver education to students. Although this suited the needs of our economy during the age of mass manufacturing, today’s businesses need workers who can think critically, constantly learn new knowledge and skills, and adapt to rapidly evolving technologies and circumstances. His forthcoming book, “Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life” (Jossey-Bass, August 2019), co-written with renowned innovation expert Bob Moesta, has a two-pronged mission. First, Horn and Moesta equip students with the tools they need to choose the right higher education institution and program to suit their individual goals. Second, the authors advise both colleges and businesses on how they can better ensure students will acquire relevant, beneficial skills. Horn and Moesta evaluate these issues through the lens of the “Jobs to be Done” theory of innovation, a framework used to predictably develop new products and services that delight their users. Horn argues that in the future, because of the demands of a constantly changing economy and workforce, businesses will be playing a greater and more direct role in education, through partnerships with colleges and providers, as well as on-the-job training. To guarantee their future workers are acquiring the skills they need, companies must understand Horn’s and Moesta’s framework equally as well as any student or college admissions director.

Horn is committed to developing new ideas, policies and frameworks that address the shortcomings of monolithic, factory-model education systems by creating more student-centered, lifetime-oriented models to keep pace with the demands of the New Economy. In addition to serving as chief strategy officer for Entangled Group, an education technology studio based in San Francisco, Horn is also the co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a non-profit think tank. In this role, he has merged business approaches to disruptive innovation with public and private education systems. Writer of an education-focused Forbes blog, Horn is the author and co-author of multiple books, white papers and articles on the digital transformation of education, including the award-winning book written with Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, “Disrupting Class,” and the Amazon-bestseller written with Heather Staker, “Blended“ and the “Blended Workbook.”

An expert on the global “EdTech” revolution, Horn was selected as a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow to study innovation in education in Vietnam and Korea. 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. Horn holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Michael Horn is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, workshops, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life

(Jossey-Bass, August 2019)

The Blended Workbook: Learning to Design the Schools of our Future

(John Wiley & Sons, August 2017)

Augmented Management Intelligence: Can Robots Bring Humanity Back to the Workplace?

(CorpU, June 2017)

The Future of Student Aid: Advancing New Models to Expand Access, Improve Quality, and Spur Innovation in Education

(Entangled Solutions, May 2017)

A Blueprint for Breakthroughs: Federally Funded Education Research in 2016 and Beyond

(The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, May 2016)

Disrupting Law School: How Disruptive Innovation Will Revolutionize The Legal World

(The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, March 2016)

Schools as Community Hubs: Integrating Support Services to Drive Educational Outcomes

(The Brookings Institute, September 2015)

Policy Brief: Moving Beyond College: Rethinking Higher Education Regulation for an Unbundled World

(American Enterprise Institute, August 2015)

The Educator's Dilemma: When and How Schools Should Embrace Poverty Relief

(The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, June 2015)

Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools

(John Wiley & Sons, November 2014)

Disrupting Class, Expanded Edition: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

(McGraw-Hill, August 2010)

Private Enterprise and Public Education

(Teachers College Press, August 2013)

Is K–12 Blended Learning Disruptive? An Introduction of the Theory of Hybrids

(The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, May 2013)

Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education

(Innosight Institute, February 2011)

The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning

(Innosight Institute, January 2011)

Rethinking Student Motivation: Why Understanding the 'Job' is Crucial for Improving Education

(Innosight Institute, September 2010)

Policy Brief: Virtual Schooling: Disrupting the Status Quo

(The James Madison Institute, May 2010)

Media

Clayton Christensen Institute logo

Michael Horn's Blog for the Clayton Christensen Institute

Michael Horn’s Future U Podcast

Forbes logo

Michael Horn's Blog for Forbes

Michael Horn's Blog for EducationNext

Michael Horn's Column for EdSurge

Liberal Arts Colleges Across the Country Face 'Existential Threat'

April 17, 2019

Inside Higher Ed logo

Perilous Times

April 1, 2019

Forbes logo

Why The Rich and Famous Would Break the Law to Get Their Kids into College

March 27, 2019

The 'Perfect Storm' Behind the Recent College Closings and How it could Change New England

March 25, 2019

Beyond the Admissions Scandal, Colleges Face a Loss of Relevance

March 21, 2019

the74million.com logo

Why It's Time to Start Using 'Personalized Learning' as a Verb, Not a Noun

March 1, 2019

Forbes logo

The Future of LinkedIn Learning and the Link Between Education and Work

March 13, 2019

Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Considers Identifying Failing Colleges

January 22, 2019

Michael Horn: Accreditation on the Edge (Audio)

November 9, 2018

Universities 'Are Declining' Due to Digital Disruptors

October 10, 2018

Clayton Christensen Institute logo

The Teacher's Quest for Progress: How School Leaders Can Motivate Instructional Innovation

September 12, 2018

Could Voice-Activated Technology Transform the Classroom? (Audio)

March 21, 2018

From Great Ideas to Successful Execution

February 22, 2018

Michael Horn, CSO at Entangled Ventures

January 17, 2018

Online Learning, a Disruptive Innovation in Education – An Interview With Michael Horn

November 16, 2017

Backers of an Audit Model for Judging Education Quality Invite Feedback

June 26, 2017

Inside Higher Ed logo

For-Profit Universities 2.0

June 15, 2017

evolllution logo

The Case for Income-Share Agreements

June 12, 2017

De-risking Innovation

May 17, 2017

Innovation and the Jobs to Be Done in Higher Education (Audio)

April 12, 2017

The Impact of Betsy DeVos

April 5, 2017

The Job of Innovation

Spring 2017

A New Architecture for the University Campus of the Future

March 22, 2017

evolllution logo

Unbundling and Rebundling: The Lasting Impact of Alternative Credentialing on Higher Ed

September 23, 2016

The Atlantic logo

The Failing Grade for Tests

September 4, 2016

The Atlantic logo

What If Schools Abolished Grade Levels?

September 3, 2016

Beyond Disrupting Class

August 17, 2016

Enabling Better Studies of Virtual Charter Schools

August 17, 2016

Law Schools Are Going Online to Reach New Students

June 22, 2016

Using Blended Learning to Design Schools that Motivate Students

March 24, 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

Biography

To innovate in the digital age, businesses must adapt constantly to advancements in technology by drawing upon highly skilled, flexible workers. The problem in finding agile employees across all generations is that our education system is still designed for the industrial – versus knowledge – economy. Michael Horn, a leading expert on disruptive innovation in education, argues that if our economy is to obtain the vital skills it requires to achieve sustainable growth, we must radically reimagine our approach to educating and upskilling people for the future of work and society.

The central problem with education, says Horn, is that schools operate on the model of an assembly line as they seek to standardize the way we deliver education to students. Although this suited the needs of our economy during the age of mass manufacturing, today’s businesses need workers who can think critically, constantly learn new knowledge and skills, and adapt to rapidly evolving technologies and circumstances. His forthcoming book, “Choosing College: How to Make Better Learning Decisions Throughout Your Life” (Jossey-Bass, August 2019), co-written with renowned innovation expert Bob Moesta, has a two-pronged mission. First, Horn and Moesta equip students with the tools they need to choose the right higher education institution and program to suit their individual goals. Second, the authors advise both colleges and businesses on how they can better ensure students will acquire relevant, beneficial skills. Horn and Moesta evaluate these issues through the lens of the “Jobs to be Done” theory of innovation, a framework used to predictably develop new products and services that delight their users. Horn argues that in the future, because of the demands of a constantly changing economy and workforce, businesses will be playing a greater and more direct role in education, through partnerships with colleges and providers, as well as on-the-job training. To guarantee their future workers are acquiring the skills they need, companies must understand Horn’s and Moesta’s framework equally as well as any student or college admissions director.

Horn is committed to developing new ideas, policies and frameworks that address the shortcomings of monolithic, factory-model education systems by creating more student-centered, lifetime-oriented models to keep pace with the demands of the New Economy. In addition to serving as chief strategy officer for Entangled Group, an education technology studio based in San Francisco, Horn is also the co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a non-profit think tank. In this role, he has merged business approaches to disruptive innovation with public and private education systems. Writer of an education-focused Forbes blog, Horn is the author and co-author of multiple books, white papers and articles on the digital transformation of education, including the award-winning book written with Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, “Disrupting Class,” and the Amazon-bestseller written with Heather Staker, “Blended“ and the “Blended Workbook.”

An expert on the global “EdTech” revolution, Horn was selected as a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow to study innovation in education in Vietnam and Korea. 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. Horn holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Michael Horn is available for paid speaking engagements including keynote addresses, workshops, panels, conference talks, and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

All speeches can be delivered in workshop format.

How to Develop a 21st Century Strategy for Higher Ed

Higher education faces challenges related to affordability, success, and an increasing sense from parts of the public that a degree is no longer worth the time, money or effort. Colleges seek to better meet the needs of students, as well as businesses facing shortages of skilled workers, despite the continued rise in the number of degree holders. But what does it really take to make an institute of higher learning fit for the 21st century? What changes need to be made to enrollment procedures, course offerings and teaching methods? In this presentation, education expert Michael Horn outlines how to gain a competitive edge in the higher education landscape and the process universities must follow to inject disruptive innovation into their DNA. No two institutions are exactly alike in their challenges, so there can be no single solution. Horn expertly evaluates your organization’s gap between desired goals and existing efforts, helps you develop and implement a nimble, discovery-driven path, and ultimately chart a winning course to success without expending too much capital.

Choosing College

Students are conditioned to believe attending college is in and of itself a good thing. For the most part they are right: a college degree can significantly raise one’s earnings potential, and economic changes have made higher education a prerequisite for most desirable jobs. But as the cost of higher education has risen, more students have found their degrees are not quite paying off. Underemployment – working in a job for which one is overqualified – has increased. Businesses, meanwhile, complain of a lack of skilled workers. What accounts for this gap between employee fulfillment and business needs – and how do we address it? In this presentation, based on his forthcoming book “Choosing College” (co-written with legendary innovation expert Bob Moesta), Michael Horn answers those two key questions on which the future of our economy depends. Horn contends students must ask what “job” they want their education to do for them, and then consider whether that route will be useful. Businesses and learning institutions also have a vital role to play: companies that lack skilled workers need to be more directly involved in the process of students choosing their education and training courses. Through this approach, students and businesses alike may resolve lack of fulfillment, and our future workforce can acquire the skills it needs to flourish.

The Future of K-12 Schools

Disruptive innovation has shaken up K-12 education in preparation for a complete transformation. Schools will always remain, but in many places, we may see a redefinition of the classroom as we know it. What other transformations lie ahead? How should educators prepare? In this presentation, Michael Horn uses the theories of disruptive innovation to illuminate the future of K-12 schooling and provides practical advice for acting now to design a future that benefits all students.

The Future of Work: Education for 21st Century Learners

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century greatly impacted education, and 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 – and 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. This can be used by both educators and businesses to provide inexpensive (and more impactful) learning and training, converting education from a one-time process to a lifelong experience.

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

What does it take to lead schools and education systems to help all 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. Online learning has the potential to create a student-centered education system that effectively educates all students by personalizing learning. Horn discusses not only how this plays out – in the U.S. and abroad, from Korea to Vietnam and Brazil – 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.

The Growth Mindset: Transforming Learning with Competency-Based Education

The old model of higher education no longer works. Is it time to embrace a different, more customized, student-centered model? Michael Horn says 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 are affordability, aligning to outcomes, ensuring students’ mastery of specific knowledge and skills, and tapping the hidden (and uncredentialled) talents of learners. All these aspects 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. Horn can also speak on competency-based learning in K–12 schools and the vast potential for educators to use it to instill key 21st-century skills of grit, perseverance, curiosity, and agency in all learners.

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

Policies that create access to online learning are outpacing policies that transform the system and focus on learning outcomes, says Michael Horn. 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 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 argues. Proof of success is to be found in results, not in arbitrary numbers. In this presentation, Horn offers a new framework for understanding when and how education has succeeded in preparing the next generation for the future.

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

Many educators and observers fiercely contend 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. In this presentation, 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.”

 

Media

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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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Intro Video

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