Ipek Bakir, Consultant, researcher, human-centered design and data advocate
As mentioned above, Clayton Christensen's book is a great source for contemplating more on the notion of virtual schools and schooling as disruptive innovations.
Virtual schools can be seen as disruptive innovation as they challenge both the physical and the conceptual structure of traditional brick and mortar schools. As argued by Christensen et al., virtual schools can find a unique and new place in the education market. For homebound students, for example, virtual schools offer the educational experience that they otherwise wouldn't be able to have. Virtual schools, therefore, have the potential to disrupt the exiting market by creating new ones. "The new and publicly funded online schools are proving to be more than merely another delivery system for students. In a wide range of other industries, and now, increasingly in K-12 education, the Internet has enabled deep structural changes. In each case, new organizations developed alternative management structures, distribution methods, and work models” (Tucker, 2007, p.1).
Virtual schools expand the boundaries of schools by making equity and accessibility possible through a new medium. For example, students in rural areas that traditionally have been bound to schools with limited curriculum and class offerings can benefit from the option of virtual schools. Lastly, when used for redefining physical boundaries and resource allocation, technology may facilitate the line between school life and real life to become blurry, thus causing students to engage in much deeper learning process than the one offered in traditional school settings.
Bill Tucker, "Laboratories of Reform: Virtual High Schools and Innovation in Public Education. Education Sector Reports, June 2007.
Clayton Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. McGraw-Hill, 2008.