Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Khan Academy Is Good For Schools

I am doing this post because I am sick and tired of all the KA-bashing blog posts written by "educators" (read: teachers who are scared of losing their job). I'll talk later about how flipping the classroom actually turnes teachers into actual teachers, rather than merely lecturers. I put "educators" in quotes because if anyone is an educator, Sal Khan is.


First Point:
Using KA in schools, as a flipped classroom thing, there are two main parts to being in class:
  1. The lecturing 
  2. The practicing
The lecturing can be done either in person or by video, because teachers reuse most of the material from year to year (80%, according to one of my former teachers). The practicing part can be done best when students have the opportunity to do the problems either by themselves or with others. When class time is used for lectures and non-class time is used for homework, students only get to do practice problems by themselves. If they have a question, they are stuck because
  1. they can't re-watch the teacher's video
  2. they can't ask their classmates for help
However, if you flip the classroom, now when they do practice problems, they can:
  1. get help
  2. re-watch the video
This is not hard to understand. 

Teachers think they'll lose their job through this. If they're good teachers, they won't because now they'll have the chance to actually teach, instead of just lecture. If they're bad teachers, they will because they won't be able to help their students since they don't actually know what they're talking about and before, they could get away with just lecturing. 

Second point:

All the people and teachers who write snide blog posts about how KA can't teach "interactive" projects are completely missing the point. The point of using KA in classrooms is so that teachers can do that sort of thing, during class time. When you think about this rationally, this is exactly how the real world works. When you're working, you spend your time at work doing projects and if you need to learn something, you don't spend the time you have available at work to learn it; you learn it outside of work. This is because when you're at work, you have access to others and can ask them for help with what your learning, as well as work with them on other projects using that knowledge.

Third Point:

All the people who dislike KA because it "isn't new": That's true, there have been iTUnes U and OCW for years now. However, those video haven't been viewed nearly as many times as KA. Furthermore, those videos are hour-long, whereas KA videos are 10 minutes long, making them much more manageable.