Disruptive innovation: Changing future for Minnesota students, educators

“My dream is to be a singer,” said one Susan B. Anthony Middle School student. Another student wrote that he wanted to be a doctor, while one girl told me she hoped to open her own business. As a volunteer exhibitor for Rêve Academy at the recent Minneapolis STEM Expo, I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of middle school students who shared their dreams with us. What struck me most was that no matter the dream, each of these students would need to learn how to use certain technologies during the course of their careers. With the way the music industry has been changing, even the aspiring singer will probably need to have some knowledge of how to record a video of her singing to post on YouTube in the hopes of “going viral.”As innovative applications of technology increase, many industries, from entertainment to healthcare to retail, are experiencing what Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, terms “disruptive innovation,” or an innovation that creates a new market and eventually overtakes an existing market. One example of a disruptive innovation is the cell phone, which offered portability, but was initially expensive and of lesser sound quality than a traditional phone. Continue Reading

Historians and techies unite to bolster Minnesota’s presence on Wikipedia

On Saturday, February 25, the Special Collections department of Hennepin County’s Central Library hosted an event uniting history buffs with the tech-savvy in order to increase the state of Minnesota’s presence on the user-generated encyclopedia Wikipedia. The goal was that those from the Wikipedia social circle who are passionate about democratic and expansive knowledge access would aid the historical experts as they jointly flushed out the aspects of the state’s past previously undocumented on Wikipedia.

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St. Thomas reverses its decision to disallow Tutu

University of St. Thomas president the Rev. Dennis Dease said the decision to bar Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at its campus was wrong, and that he will take measures to invite him. [Editor’s note: Read Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s controversial speech here.]
“I have wrestled with what is the right thing to do in this situation, and I have concluded that I made the wrong decision earlier this year not to invite the archbishop. Although well-intentioned, I did not have all of the facts and points of view, but now I do,” Dease wrote in a letter to faculty, staff and students. St. Continue Reading

The Tutu episode — whither academic freedom?

To avoid offending some in Minnesota’s Jewish community, the University of St. Thomas scrubbed a plan to invite Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, to speak at its campus next year. But along the way the Catholic university offended many others and rekindled a debate about a larger question: Is there an effort to stifle a critical discussion about the Israel-Palestinian conflict in this country? Some say that the Tutu episode is emblematic of a successful campaign to reduce anyone who criticizes the state of Israel as anti-Semitic. “Objectively speaking, you could say that there’s no serious debate about our foreign policy toward Israel,” said Cris Toffolo, an associate professor at St. Continue Reading