The theory of "disruptive innovation" describes a process by which a product or service transforms an existing market by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability. This theory was first coined by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen in his research on the disk-drive industry and later popularized by his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, published in 1997.
Principles of disruptive innovation are applicable to the social sector as well, including education. The Education Program at the Christensen Institute examines K–12 and higher education issues through the lens of disruptive innovation and its research aims to transform factory-model systems into student-centered designs that educate every student successfully and enable each to realize his or her fullest potential.
In this video Christensen and Eyring discuss the "The Innovative University", which builds upon the theory of "disruptive innovation" and applies it to the world of higher education. The Innovative University illustrates how higher education can respond to the forces of disruptive innovation , and offers a nuanced and hopeful analysis of where the traditional university and its traditions have come from and how it needs to change for the future. Through an examination of Harvard and BYU-Idaho as well as other stories of innovation in higher education, the authors decipher how universities can find innovative, less costly ways of performing their uniquely valuable functions.