22nd 2011
Thinking About How to Approach the Education Future with Khan Academy

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & PPC & Teachers

Little Eddie is on the run today, so I just want to point you to a quickie. A few months ago I told you about the glimpse into the education future known as Khan Academy. After talking about how the online curriculum was being used in a California school, I noted:

It represents a key part of the transformational movement offering students a wider variety of effective learning options. Let’s embrace it.

While generally a fan of what Salman Khan is doing, education policy guru Rick Hess warned a couple weeks ago against the tendency to make him into the “most overhyped edu-entrepreneur of the moment.” Fair enough. I very often appreciate Hess’s critical focus on toning down hype and expectations. He brings a strong, reality-based perspective to school reform.

More recently, the education research couple of Emily and Bryan Hassel wrote a great follow-up piece for Education Next (H/T Joanne Jacobs) arguing that Khan is “mis-hyped” rather than “over-hyped” — that what’s needed is to combine the high-quality technological tool with “excellent live teachers”:

The change would be at least budget-neutral, and the great teacher could earn more within budget, since lab monitors are not paid as much. While one teaching position disappears – and that should be the weakest teacher who goes – other jobs emerge, such as the monitor or combined monitor/tutor. Possibly some of today’s struggling teachers would shine in those more focused roles….

A great discussion to have. Think outside the box. Think future!


3 Responses to “Thinking About How to Approach the Education Future with Khan Academy”

  1. Frank Noschese on 22 Jun 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    I’m amazed that no one is questioning the pedagogy of content delivery via lecture in the first place.

    Excerpts below from my series taking a critical view of Khan Academy: http://bit.ly/khancritic

    Ironically, Khan’s TED talk is in stark contrast to two previous TED talks:

    * Dan Meyer – Math Curriculum Makeover http://bit.ly/DanMeyerTED
    * Sir Ken Robinson – Do Schools Kill Creativity? http://bit.ly/SirKenTED

    According to Meyer, today’s math curriculum is teaching students to expect (and excel at) paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them. How does Khan Academy foster problem posing and creativity?

    If your philosophy of education is sit-and-get, i.e., teaching is telling and learning is listening, then Khan Academy (and flipping) are more efficient than in-classroom lecturing.

    But why lecture at all? TRUE progressive educators, TRUE education visionaries and revolutionaries don’t want to do these things better. We want to DO BETTER THINGS.

    Rather than instructing students with Khan’s videos, teachers should be inspiring them to figure things out on their own and learn how to create their own knowledge by working together. For example, instead of relying on lectures and textbooks, Modeling Instruction in Physics emphasizes active student construction of conceptual and mathematical models in an interactive learning community. Students are engaged with simple scenarios to learn to model the physical world. In comparison to traditional instruction, Modeling is extremely effective — under expert modeling instruction high school students average more than two standard deviations higher on a standard instrument for assessing conceptual understanding of physics.

    Watch one Modeling class in action: http://bit.ly/ModelingPhysics

    In the clip, the teacher says, “I don’t lecture at all. Instead, I create experiences for the students either in the lab or puzzles and problems for them to solve and it’s up to them to try to figure that out.” I’ve often wondered why this type of teaching hasn’t gotten more attention in the media. Maybe because the teacher is using simple things like whiteboards and bowling balls rather than shiny iPads and SmartBoards?

    While Khan argues that his videos now eliminate “one-size-fits-all” education, his videos are exactly that. Plus, they don’t use a lot of the multiple representations that are so fundamental to learning. Concept development is minimal, and he unknowingly plays into student misconceptions. His videos do not align with proper Physics Education Research.

    Teachers improve via reading up on pedagogy and getting feedback from mentors & students. Where is Sal’s feedback? Where’s the pedagogy? The research that Khan chooses to ignore is summarized in this one book, now available as a free PDF: “How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom” http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10126

    Instead of shifting lecture to home, or making better lectures, we should be shifting away from lectures and doing something better.

  2. Eddie on 23 Jun 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Wow! Thank you, Frank, for your insightful comment. Certainly looks like a viable option for more enterprising edu-entrepreneurs and concerned parents to pursue.

  3. Ed is Watching » Wired Article: Khan Academy Is Boosting More Kids Into Advanced Math and Science on 18 Jul 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    [...] whether and how we can go about it more effectively — then you’re not trying too hard. I’ve told you about Khan Academy before, but have yet to point you to anything this [...]

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