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How Education Is Changing Thanks To Khan Academy 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the knowledge-distribution-engine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Wired reports on how freely-available lectures from Khan Academy are affecting both teaching methods and learning methods in classrooms across the country. From the article: 'Initially, Thordarson thought Khan Academy would merely be a helpful supplement to her normal instruction. But it quickly become far more than that. She's now on her way to "flipping" the way her class works. This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan's videos, which students can watch at home. Then, in class, they focus on working problem sets. The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed on the kids' own time and homework is done at school. ... It's when they're doing homework that students are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to need someone to talk to. And now Thordarson can tell just when this grappling occurs: Khan Academy provides teachers with a dashboard application that lets her see the instant a student gets stuck. "I'm able to give specific, pinpointed help when needed, she says. The result is that Thordarson's students move at their own pace. Those who are struggling get surgically targeted guidance, while advanced kids ... rocket far ahead; once they're answering questions without making mistakes, Khan's site automatically recommends new topics to move on to.'"
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How Education Is Changing Thanks To Khan Academy

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  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:35AM (#36785294) Journal

    Isn't this just doing what Salman Khan suggested in his TED talk [ted.com]? He proposed that teachers should use class time for supervising and assisting in problem solving, and that students should watch lessons at home.

    • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:52AM (#36785402) Homepage

      Pretty much, all according to plan.

      I can't help being jealous of these kids -- I imagine like many people here, being able to learn exactly at my own pace would have done a lot to keep me engaged in school.

      I hope this catches on with public schools. It may be one of the most important shifts in education since... well, ever. Finally, technology in the classroom means something.

      • by mmarlett (520340)

        That is actually how my elementry school worked. By the time I was half way through sixth grade, me and two of my friends had exhausted the educational materials, which only covered up to the eighth grade. When I went to a normal Jr. high in the 7th grade, I fell on my face. I was sooooo goddamned bored. I didn't do the most basic assignments. Can't we just agree that I know this and let me move on?

      • It sounds great to me too. My daughter already deals with the frustration of being ahead of most of her classmates, and while my son has just finished kindergarten, I suspect he's going to have the same issue soon enough, as he picks this stuff up really fast. I've actually thought about having them go through the early arithmetic videos a bit this summer as review, rather than just doing the occasional practice problems (very occasional, just enough to help them remember more over the summer). If the schoo
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>I hope this catches on with public schools. It may be one of the most important shifts in education since... well, ever. Finally, technology in the classroom means something.

        Heya Phrosty,

        I see K-12 teachers (who I work with) and districts giving up control of the classroom from their cold, dead hands.

        In particular, school teachers have mandates that control a lot of what they do in the classroom nowadays. Pacing guides... hell, a lot of elementary school teachers are handed a script that they're sup

      • by Dravik (699631)
        The article didn't focus much on this point, but it was mentioned that teachers keep asking if there is a way to prevent the kids from getting so far ahead. I don't think your going to get much enthusiasm from teachers that want to restrain learning to what is "supposed" to be learned at each grade level.
    • by bondsbw (888959)

      Sounds like the solution to the problem of parents who aren't normally supportive of their child's education.

      (Yes, I'm aware that many parents are unable to support their child in this way due to both knowledge and time constraints. Not trying to troll here.)

      But this isn't a new concept. When I was in school, we often did assignments in the classroom and read chapters at home. This is just a new video format. But as it turned out, we rarely had to do much of the reading, as the hands-on assignments woul

      • Sounds like the solution to the problem of parents who aren't normally supportive of their child's education.

        This is all about getting the most out of their time in the classroom, and should benefit all types of students. It shifts time wasted on fast learners to the slow learners. It's really not there to compensate for poor parental support.

        Fast learners can fast forward lectures at home once they understand a subject, take a quick test in class, then move on to the next thing without any teacher involvement. Slow learners can pause and rewind at home, and get dedicated support in class. Teachers can accurat

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      It makes a lot of sense. I've seen a trend of people that don't even go to class, and study by themselves, or go to class to waste their time.

      I'm from the view, that they are paying a person to teach the class, and necessarily they know the topic and I'd be able to ask them as much as I can. So even though some people think a student should be letting the professor teach the class, and asking students are annoying. I believe that they're not there to read me the book, but to clear my doubts.
  • This is a great idea when it comes to the way kids learn and where they struggle.

    I'm wondering, though, what happens when a student doesn't have a computer or internet access.
    • by deniable (76198) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:42AM (#36785338)
      Yet another way for 'that kid' to get marginalised in school. I also wonder why we're teaching them to take work home. Does anyone else think homework is a problem?
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I know some schools in Toronto Canada have stopped assigning homework [tvo.org]. Studies have shown that there's little if any benefit to assigning homework. And when homework is dropped altogether, many students do better.
      • Yes. Because feedback is king. When solving difficult math or science problems, doing homework and then getting the grade back a week later does very little to help you learn. This is because by the time the grades get in, the train of thought during the problem-solving period is long gone. While hopefully future generations of parents will be able to mentor their own children in their younger years, the whole point of going to school or university is to be under the tutelage of someone very well versed in

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        It wasn't for me, but high school was 39 years ago, and I was expected to work and meet certain standards for graduation.

        Is it your point that homework is too much for students today?

        • by Miseph (979059)

          Most research actually does show that the amount of homework assigned has been steadily increasing for the past few decades. It's gotten to the point where doctors have begun observing a trend toward back and joint dysfunctions caused by carrying backpacks that are too heavy... the amount of homework has increased to the point where it can now be meaningfully measured by weight.

          To make matters worse, standardized testing has forced many schools to significantly increase the scope of the curriculum and short

  • From the summary: "This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan's videos, which students can watch at home." So what do K-12 students without broadband at home do? Go to a public library every day?
    • Wikipedia tells me that "twelfth grade (12) [is] for 16–19-year-olds". When I was 16 and in college I was using the college library every day. I think that an effective education must involve independent learning, which will often involve a library. Younger students can't be expected to be learning independently, but once a student is 15 or 16, they should be in the library most days anyway.

      • School bus (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:47AM (#36785362) Homepage Journal
        Apparently some countries use terms cognate to "college" to mean secondary education, or what U.S. residents call "high school". Where I went to high school, after the final bell, students had five minutes to board the school bus. If a student chooses to stay late to spend time in the library, how is such a student expected to get home?
        • I don't there are schoolbuses in Europe. (There isn't in Hungary for sure.) Kids just take public transportation.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Some countries have decent and functional public transportation.

        • Re:School bus (Score:4, Interesting)

          by peragrin (659227) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:59AM (#36785464)

          on the late bus? Seriously I used it all the time to get home. it was the bus that dropped off sports teams, after school detention students, and students doing after school projects(class president, various clubs, etc)

          It ran something like 2-3 hours later. I liked those days, as I would do my after school project then my homework and leave all my stuff in my locker for the next day. I wouldn't have to carry much home.

          • on the late bus?

            If my school district made such a "late bus" available while I was in school, I was never notified of it. Perhaps it's just the car culture prevalent in my country: parents are expected to own and use cars, and by the time the "late bus" would leave, the parent is expected to be off work.

            • by peragrin (659227)

              The schools are responsible for sending students home. Just because you never heard of it doesn't mean much. It just means you never bothered looking.

              Also that is in NY. It was either the late bus or a 25 mile walk home for some kids.

              • In Indiana there was no 'late bus'. If you chose to do an "extra curricular" then it was just that, extra. You walked, got picked up by your parents or found friends. I remember closing the public library at 8 pm after being there since 5, 5 days a week while my mom got off work and came over to get me.

              • by xkuehn (2202854)

                The schools are responsible for sending students home.

                They me be in your part of the world. They're not in mine. We also didn't have any late bus.

              • by CastrTroy (595695)
                In Ottawa Canada, they just give all the bus students (in highschool) local transit passes. The school saves money by not having to pay for specialty buses, and the kids don't have to worry about missing the bus. Kids should be able to navigate public transit by the time they are 14 anyway.
                • by ryanov (193048)

                  Agreed. You'll find in the US, it's not true, and our media scares moms so badly that they're afraid to let them take public transit anyway. It's all stupidity, and my parents never fell for it (miss the school bus again did you? here's a buck 55; walk up the hill and take the city bus because we're sick of driving you).

          • by dcollins (135727)

            Look at me! I assume that my personal experience is universally applicable. I'm awesome!

        • In the UK there aren't generally school buses for college (age 16 to 18), I used public transport (service buses) or cycled. Through secondary school (age 11 to 16) there were school-buses which would leave immediately after lessons finished however a mini-bus occasionally took people home doing after school activities. If that wasn't available you could either use public transport or do as I did and walk home (I only lived 5 miles from my secondary school).

          • by tepples (727027)

            or do as I did and walk home (I only lived 5 miles from my secondary school).

            There are thought to be too many child predators for an hour and a half of walking every day.

        • by tabrnaker (741668)
          Walk.

          I routinely walked the 2.5km to grade school or the 5.5 kms to high school, i even walked the 10.8km to cegep. When you're poor and you want an education you do what you have to.

          I did live right in front of the municipal library, but being quebec i exhausted the english section by the time i was about 10. Well, not true, i didn't read all the charlie brown and garfield books they had, never really wasted much time on comics.

          I think the distances of my schools is pretty interesting, and of cour

        • by Deaddy (1090107)
          And well, the first two years of American college are more or less what central europeans call secondary education.
    • by brunes69 (86786)

      The lectures are done in class. They kids don't have to view them at home, they simple CAN if they want a refresher. They can do the same at the school itself after hours, or the public library.

      • "They kids don't have to view them at home, they simple CAN if they want a refresher. They can do the same at the school itself after hours, or the public library."
        In my country:
        - not all kids have access to a computer and broadband at home
        - school libraries are mostly not open after school closes at 4pm, lack of funding
        - public libraries are not always within reach of school children

        Those that can afford, get better. Lower income kids would fall behind.

        • Most lower income kids in the US have plenty of electronic luxuries - I'd be very surprised to find a low income house that doesn't have a computer and the internet.
    • by The Second Horseman (121958) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:12AM (#36786022)

      Good luck in a lot of places finding a public library that's open when you'd need it to be. Public libraries are closing or cutting hours and services at an alarming rate.

      One of the problems with educational reformers is that things that work on a small scale - only put in the best teachers, get parents involved, etc. can't always be replicated on a large scale. And they need to realize that. You can't have 100% excellent teachers. What's the current number - not even a third of the US population gets a 4-year college degree? Exactly how can we pay to have millions of brilliant teachers? Especially when teachers are under attack, there's pressure to drive pay down, etc. And a huge part of public school problems are actually societal problems. We've got drugs, crime, malnutrition, poverty, uninvolved/absent parents, lead poisoning, lousy school facilities and so forth. And the public schools can't cherry pick.

      And at a time when standardized tests are being used to evaluate teachers and schools, the kids have no stake in the tests. And there's a ton of pressure (some of it based on the raft of IEPs given to students for all sorts of reasons - some legit, some ridiculous) to grade kids based on effort and not outcome. You want to make adjustments for kids with issues? Provide both absolute and adjusted grades.

      And the cost to support students with learning or behavioral problems is high. It's not unheard of now to have a classroom with three or four kids with individual aides, plus there's an assistant teacher to deal with kids who have less-stringent IEPs, plus the lead teacher. Unless, of course, you teach art, music, industrial arts, etc. Then, the aides get that as a break period. So you've got 25 kids in the room - a bunch of whom get aides in other classes and some for behavioral reasons - with no help. And you received no training in how to deal with those students as part of your education.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "So what do K-12 students without broadband at home do? Go to a public library every day?"

      No, teachers can download the content for those without internet access:

      http://www.khanacademy.org/downloads [khanacademy.org]

    • by jelle (14827)

      Get a DVD with the video to bring home? Or a VHS tape? You don't need broadband to watch a video, you know.

    • by rsborg (111459)

      From the summary: "This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan's videos, which students can watch at home." So what do K-12 students without broadband at home do? Go to a public library every day?

      The solution is to do what should have happened 10 years ago with the rise of the internet economy: Make access a fundamental right, utility and regulated like utilities.

      For those of you who rebut my point with prattle about "free market" and such, keep in mind that telecoms and cable has never really been free; it's always been a) patchwork of local monopolies in the case of cable and b) a fully integrated monopoly for phone/DSL lines for 50 years (was split up in the 80s but is now like the T1000 reassem

      • by Miseph (979059)

        But but but... the Invisible Hand!

        Seriously though, introducing competition wouldn't be all that hard: it would just require allowing competition. Towns should be leasing space on utility poles (or in buried ducts, for you Vermonters) to anyone who wants it without worrying about duplicated service or other such strictly business concerns. Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Time Warner etc. would then be in direct competition with one another within individual markets. Companies could elect to lease wire from one a

    • So what do K-12 students without broadband at home do?

      They could take the lectures home on a DVD, an SD-Card, or a USB thumb drive. They can watch the DVD using a $20 player hooked up to any TV. Or they can use an adequate second-hand computer available at Goodwill for $40. That is no more than the cost of a single textbook.

  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:37AM (#36785322)

    I'm glad to see that this is finally happening. A "good" lecture on a subject needs to only be done once. It seem like a waste repeating the same thing year after year. Where students (speaking for myself) need help is in the actual implementation of the lecture subject. Now that the students are doing 'homework' in class, that resource is available. And if Kahn's methods don't work for you, then maybe there need to be 3-4 different teaching styles. One that is heavy on theory light on examples, heavy on examples and light on theory and some that mix it up a bit.

    In college we would get together in study groups or the teacher or TA had office hours (hopefully). For elementary, middle and high school students this really isn't an option. They're usually in class all day and then go home. So if they get hung up on something simple they're essentially stalled. Resulting in frustration, loss of interest and possibly a bad grade. Thankfully my teachers would often assign at least one 'type' of problem where the answer was in the back of the book. If I didn't get it I could figure out how to get the right answer and then apply that to other problems.

    This worked all the way up through this year when I took a graduate level linear algebra class. The teacher made Ben Stein look animated. The course material was very dry and it was way too theoretical (for myself). If a homework answer wasn't in the back of the book. I'd find a similar problem that did have the answer, work through it to get the solution and feel a bit more confident on the homework problems. I can't name the number of "Eureka!" moments I had while doing homework.

    I'd much rather watch a video on how to do something (welding, car repair, etc) and have someone watch over my shoulder while I do it and be there for questions than have them lecture to me and then go "alright, now you get to do it blind". I'm glad to see that teachers are getting an opportunity to 'teach' rather than 'lecture'.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by trout007 (975317)

      I have been saying this for years. A well produced video on a subject would save lots of money by replacing lectures. So try taking this to it's logical conclusion. The school model for teaching is going to go away. If parents have access to educational material on any subject than what good does a traditional teacher serve? You could replace this with a video lecture and private mentor/tutor model. The vast majority of the work of education would be done by video and you can just pay for individual acces

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @12:33PM (#36786626) Homepage

      I teach physics at a community college. The Wired article made me curious to see how good the Khan videos were. I went to the Khan Academy web site and viewed this one [khanacademy.org] on Newton's law of gravity. He starts off with some kind of interesting, intellectually stimulating stuff about how gravity is ultimately not something we can explain. (He makes one error, but it's not crucial, and it's prefaced with a modest warning that he's not an expert.) Then he writes down Newton's law of gravity without saying anything about where it comes from, how we know it's true, or whether it's been tested by experiment. Next he spends 6 or 7 minutes, almost the entire video, solving a plug-in problem. After that he has a follow-up lecture in which he solves a problem using ratios.

      IMO this video might be fine as a supplement for a student who has poor problem-solving skills and needs to see some very explicit step-by-step remedial instruction in how to solve a plug-in problem, but it would be disastrous for a student to get her first introduction to gravity from this lecture. The lecture just presents a formula and plugs in numbers. There is almost no intellectual content there, just some calculations being cranked out using a formula that pops up mysteriously out of nowhere.

      A more fundamental issue is that there's a ton of educational research that shows that in physics, traditional lecturing, no matter how competently done, produces extremely poor conceptual understanding. A bunch of the classic papers are by R.R. Hake. The only techniques that lead to better success are techniques that de-emphasize lecturing to a class that sits and passively listens. Since the Khan lectures are still lectures, they are going to have the same shortcomings as any lectures.

      I'm glad to see that this is finally happening. A "good" lecture on a subject needs to only be done once. It seem like a waste repeating the same thing year after year.

      The problem here is that you're assuming that instruction must consist of a teacher lecturing while students sit silently in their seats. Even if one isn't a true believer in nontraditional techniques, there's a problem when students can't even ask a question.

      You do see a lot of big state schools these days taking videos of lectures given in gigantic halls with 300 seats. Students can watch the videos in their jammies sitting in their dorm rooms. This is pathetic. These schools have simply given up on their educational mission for these large freshman lecture classes. The answer isn't to make the 300-student lecture more efficient, it's to admit that the 300-student lecture is a travesty.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        Critique the lecture and perhaps it will be changed.

        Alternately, perform what you'd like to see and post on Youtube.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Critique the lecture and perhaps it will be changed.

          Alternately, perform what you'd like to see and post on Youtube.

          Apparently you missing the point being made by the parent. A good "lecture" is not just a matter of a canned speech with good examples. When I "lecture" (which I do often) it is a dynamic process that is driven by the audience. Even in the least interactive form, a good lecture involves reading the audience and knowing when to provide additional examples or when to plow ahead faster. Better lectures involve full participation, where the audience is made to think and answer questions and encouraged to ask on

        • by bcrowell (177657)

          An AC replied [slashdot.org] as well as I could have. I'm only posting this because most people won't see an AC post unless it gets moderated up.

      • The lecture just presents a formula and plugs in numbers. There is almost no intellectual content there, just some calculations being cranked out using a formula that pops up mysteriously out of nowhere.

        Here's an important disconnect between academics and the rest of us. Academics are primarily researchers - they spend their days trying to produce new knowledge about things (at least, in theory). The rest of us just want to learn this knowledge in order to know how things work so we could do something bette

        • by jim_deane (63059)

          Teaching is not telling and repeating is not learning.

          Half a century of physics education research is continuing to show that people need to learn the conceptual why just as they need to learn how to use the mathematical model. If they don't understand the concept, the math will be nothing more than a magic black box that spits out numbers for them. Engineers need to understand the concepts.

          Science is not just a tool, it is one of humanity's primary methods of viewing and interpreting the universe, along

      • I teach physics at a community college. The Wired article made me curious to see how good the Khan videos were. I went to the Khan Academy web site and viewed this one [khanacademy.org] on Newton's law of gravity. He starts off with some kind of interesting, intellectually stimulating stuff about how gravity is ultimately not something we can explain. (He makes one error, but it's not crucial, and it's prefaced with a modest warning that he's not an expert.) Then he writes down Newton's law of gravity without saying anything about where it comes from, how we know it's true, or whether it's been tested by experiment. Next he spends 6 or 7 minutes, almost the entire video, solving a plug-in problem. After that he has a follow-up lecture in which he solves a problem using ratios.

        I have not watched this, or any other of his videos, but to be fair, at least from what the wired article says, khan mostly aims at school- or high school-level topics, so it is no surpise that his physics seems basic to someone teaching physics at college level. From TFA:

        Khan’s site is unique in that it’s ruthlessly practical: It’s aimed at helping people master the basics, the humble bread-and-butter equations they encounter in elementary and high school.

        So the practical, drilling-based approach is deliberate, and I think it has a place in an education, though it also needs to be complemented with other approaches that go more in depth in the "why" rather than just the how: e.g., the diffe

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>The problem here is that you're assuming that instruction must consist of a teacher lecturing while students sit silently in their seats

        Precisely. When I lecture, I am constantly engaging the people I'm talking to, not just checking to see if they're paying attention, but honestly asking their opinions about the problems I pose. And the problems I do pose tend to be more open-ended, with no one particular right or wrong answer. ("How would you change energy policy in America?" "Do you think recyclin

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      I've been thinking the same thing about church for a long time now. A typical contemporary church service goes something like this:

      1. A bunch of songs are sung interactively - the unspoken goal of the guy organizing the music is to get it to sound like one of a dozen CDs that sell a bazillion copies every year.
      2. Everybody listens to somebody give a lecture on some topic.
      3. People pay money towards the operation of the church.
      4. Somebody stands up and reads the calendar of events for the next few weeks

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:41AM (#36785332)

    we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe also get rid of the some of the tests as well or make them more hands on.

    In college and some cert tests it's so bad that you can cram for the test and pass but have no idea about how to use, setup, run the stuff covered in the course and at the same time you can have some know knows the course, stuff in a cert really well but sucks at testing and fails the test.

    • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:01AM (#36785480) Journal

      you are laboring under the assumption that the alternative to "teaching to the test" is "teaching well" and have failed to consider the far more likely possibility of "not even teaching to the test..."

      • by Miseph (979059)

        I don't see how your assumption is any more logical. If the test is a fundamentally flawed metric of understanding, which is a fairly popular point of view (yes, I know, that's an appeal to authority, but that's the best either of us can realistically have, so it must suffice), then teaching to it is going to be a fundamentally flawed approach. OP has hinged his argument upon an assumption that the test is generally flawed, and that teachers are generally good. Yours hinges upon an assumption that the test

    • You write like someone who would fail a Turing test.

    • by strack (1051390)
      sweet fucking crap your grammar is painful to read.
  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:45AM (#36785356) Homepage

    Why did it take 100+ years for people to think "Hey, read up on something at home, and we'll talk about it and work through problems in class tomorrow"? Actually, that sounds a lot like many smaller university classes I had. Wondering why this is suddenly capturing everyone's imagination. It's pretty obvious, but then again, many ideas are obvious yet don't catch on.

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:48AM (#36785384) Homepage Journal

      Why did it take 100+ years for people to think "Hey, read up on something at home, and we'll talk about it and work through problems in class tomorrow"?

      Because it took 100+ years for home study to become stimulating enough to hold a child's interest, with audiovisual presentation of lecture material and automated drill and practice.

      • Maybe it took the last ten years to do that, but it was only necessary because they'd spent the previous twenty forgetting how to read.

      • by St.Creed (853824)

        It took 100 years to develop automation to the point where you can do this without having a live person around for 8 hours a day or more. The keyword is "automated", not "stimulating", in my opinion.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      That's not a bad question. My impression is that this used to be the case (I always hear about suggestions for enforcing reading the text prior to class discussion), but discipline got to a point where no one could actually expect that to happen anywhere. Everyone's supposed to succeed and pass the class (no failures, no send-back in grade levels). So in-class time became remediation to the lowest common denominator.

      A final observation: Much of my job is basic algebra remediation at the community college le

  • once upon a time i worked at an 'educational establishment' and somehow became involved with procuring an updated video for a teacher, to replace a series we had from the 1970s.

    there was no process for doing this, it was all ad-hoc. i had to go to a bunch of websites and fill out a bunch of forms and then give them to a supervisor who then probably had to give them to another supervisor and another, and many weeks later the videos showed up... whereupon the teacher had to fill out a bunch of forms every tim

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:12AM (#36785570) Journal
    Seriously, in the science arena the idea of the labs is to learn what was taught in a large lecture hall. That is when most learning occurs. So it has always made sense to have a lecturer separate from those who help with the class. Ideally, Khan should be revising his lectures based on feedback from the teachers.
  • link? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Strange Ranger (454494) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:19AM (#36785628)

    How can Wired write an entire article, and slashdot write a summary, all about a website, and nobody includes the link to Kahn Academy [khanacademy.org]!?? Geesh

  • by bgoffe (1501287) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:38AM (#36785754)
    It is great to see this interest in learning, but too bad that methods that careful research have shown to increase learning haven't received the same publicity (my understanding is that research based on the Khan Academy has yet to come out). I have in mind: Improved Learning in a Large Enrollment Physics Class," [cwsei.ubc.ca] Deslauriers, Schelew, and Wieman, Science, May, 2011 (a postdoc and grad student, using research based methods, get 2 standard deviations more learning in a physics class than an experienced prof with high student evaluations who lectured). . Note that Wieman is a both a Nobel Laureate and a U.S. Professor of the Year (given for teaching). Another article is Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses, [mit.edu] which again shows a 2-standard deviation increase in learning by not lecturing.

    There is even evidence that watching Khan videos leads to a false sense of learning. See Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos" [wordpress.com] It basically shows that while students think they're learning a lot by watching videos, their actual learning is minimal.

    A great into to all this is Wieman's Why Not Try a Scientific Approach to Science Education?" [cwsei.ubc.ca] As he puts it, to increase learning, we need to use
    • Practices and conclusions based on objective data rather than—as is frequently the case in education—anecdote or tradition. This includes using the results of prior research, such as work on how people learn.
    • Disseminating results in a scholarly manner and copying and building upon what works. Too often in education, particularly at the postsecondary level, everything is reinvented, often in a highly flawed form, every time a different instructor teaches a course. (I call this problem “reinventing the square wheel.”)
    • Fully utilizing modern technology. Just as we are always looking for ways to use technology to advance scientific research, we need to do the same in education.

    At best, Khan Academy only does the third of these.

    • Research-based methods don't lead to big profits for educational reform advocates (paid consulting gigs, speaking engagements), those who run private schools and publishers or scantily-researched educational materials. We've now got the educational equivalent of defense contractors selling weapons to the military that they don't want and that don't work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But I thought that was the point, kids really aren't learning that much with the lecture. The lecture just sets up the subject matter. They get the help when doing the problems, in class, with the teacher available for assistance. That is when the learning occurs.

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:51AM (#36785838) Homepage

    I had a math teacher who would assign you problems before she had explained how to do 'em in class.

    That way, you'd read the book, try to do the problems, and then the next day, be pepared to ask questions on the stuff you were having difficulties with when she actually taught the lessons. She'd then give you another night to fix whatever you needed to on the homework before turning it in.

    I found it so much better than just listening to a teacher droning on for an hour or more, then having to go and read the book to figure out what they should've been explaining.

  • Love the math curriculum, great fun. I did about 10 years of school math in 2 days. No wonder I hated math in school, it moved glacially slowly! Having so much packed into such a small time frame has been a great refresher course, and Khan rewards me with points and achievements. Holy cow, learning doesn't have to be painful! Who knew!?

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