Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Khan Academy

I see the Khan Academy is getting much publicity and now some support from Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation.

Some people feel threatened by this technology. Perhaps it's not so much the technology, but the fear of how politicians and "reformers" might abuse this technology to downgrade the value of teachers.

However, I've been using my own self-made video tutorials in my classroom via the screen casting technology similar to Khan's since the 90's. I now mainly incorporate the videos into my Moodle courses but I've also started making some of my latest video tutorials available on a YouTube Channel.

But guess what? My students still need me as a teacher.

While the videos provide explanatio­ns and examples, once the students begin working on their activities they still need oversight and guidance plus they still have questions.

Their work still needs to be evaluated and graded. However, this tool has allowed me to give more individual­ized attention to students and has helped them to focus on the lesson.

I guess my point is that what Khan is doing is not really as revolutionary as the media portrays it to be plus I feel a bit discouraged that the media seems to focus on people that are not classroom teachers as the main drivers of "reform".

Your thoughts?


casherc said...

I'm no math/science expert, but I have heard from a colleague (one of yours actually) that the content of the Khan videos is weak.

Kathleen said...

I think that these online video resources need to be vetted by someone who knows a student well, so that the student gets the content in the format needed, with the information needed in order to be a supportive part of instruction. As a special educator with some learning disabilities of my own, I have often found it helpful to review content in three or four different renditions.

I used to buy used textbooks in order to be able to review material in different contexts, but now I am finding that YouTube/TeacherTube, iTunes University, and Wikipedia-like resources are very helpful.

I can't stand it when there is no wifi access at lectures, or when the cultural norm is that we must all shut off our browsing tools. It's as if someone is speaking Russian, and I have to figure it out without an interpreter's help. With all the social networking tools available, I hope that we can figure out ways for the producers of this content to be compensated for their work, but still keep it free for the many people who would benefit from "hearing it said in several different ways".