Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't flip out over Khan

Unfortunately, I have been hearing a lot of negative conversation about Khan Academy recently. It does not seem right to put down someone who has done so much to help others in an extremely proficient way. There are so many great uses for what he (and others) have created. If not at the center of a flipped classroom model, the videos can be used as reference by students who may not have completely understood a topic initially. In this example, Khan becomes the classic textbook example on steroids. My daughter occasionally watched a Khan video this past year to help her with a calculus topic. It must have been useful because she recommended the site to friends.

One of the tasks of students (and teachers) in the near future will be to keep track of the virtual teachers who may provide them the best outside help. It would be great to have a site similar to Netflix for learning, with suggestions and recommendations based on your "favorite" virtual teachers. Along with teachers, there can also be online games or virtual worlds that work best for each student in creating learning.

The blended learning model seems a great way to combine the flipped and traditional approach. In some cases, students get the introduction to a topic before the first class activity. A few topics may even take a Hollywood-type movie trailer to peak interest. But that's okay because there are many creative teachers and students out there to create them. In other cases, the videos and games are used for reinforcement or further reference. ("Tonight for homework, work towards your 'Cell membrane badge' on Club Penguin so you can trick out your igloo with another big screen TV"). Eventually, some games may even be creative enough to help create deeper learning. ("There are still six gold coins to be found in the ancient Egyptian ruins in Club History so further investigate this evening. Winner gets to pick the next century we visit").

It is a very exciting time to be in education. While a tool such as Khan Academy is not the be all end all in learning and teaching, as with any tool, it becomes useful in the way you or your students use it. Whether that be flipped, double flipped, blended, or other (why do I have a craving for Starbucks?), it's great for students to have so many choices.

2 comments:

  1. Are the negative comments referring to the quality of the teaching or something else?
    My son used these videos extensively in his last year of high school and again to brush up on his skills before taking some math placement exams on entry to college.
    He tells me that the concepts are very clearly explained and he feels, as a user of Khan Academy, that he got more out of Khan's videos than almost any other method of teaching that he's experienced. He loves being able to back up and replay parts he doesn't understand, watch the lectures over and over until he "gets it".
    I think the proof's in the pudding. He did extremely well in the math placement exams last week and math has never been his forte.

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  2. You should check out www.yappr.com, Its a tutorial/quiz/self practice site. I found it recently during my exam times and it helped me a lot. So you can give it a try...

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