Khan Academy Gets It Right. Twice. Sort of.

1. On Motivation

John Resig, rock-star programmer and creater of JQuery, recently announced he will be leaving his job at Mozilla to work for Khan Academy. Yesterday, Mr. Resig started an Ask Me Anything meme at Reddit [h/t to John Burk]. This exchange caught my attention:

Mr. Resig is spot-on. And we need build those environments in our schools, rather then destroy them with the policies promoted by people like Bill Gates (who is a major financial contributor to Khan Academy).

2. On Learning

Sal Khan was on Charlie Rose last night. The entire video is below, but jump to 17:53 and watch until the end (~4 minutes):

Sal Khan is spot-on in his response to Mr. Rose’s question. And we need our students to do exactly that, rather than watching a 10-minute pre-digested video.

10 responses to “Khan Academy Gets It Right. Twice. Sort of.

  1. Steve Dickie

    I agree, but how do we convince out students to approach learning with the same passion that Khan seems to exhibit? I wonder if he avoids one of the constant problems in education? Does he work on a single subject at a time, or does he function like our students focusing on 5 or 6 completely different subjects every day.

    While I agree that most students probably can’t really learn from Khan’s videos alone I do think they have some value. Probably about as much value as a well written textbook. So not a lot really, but helpful to some students. Particularly those that have trouble focusing on 5 different big ideas every day. With all the press Khan has been getting I’m sure there’s some research projects being planned around the KA. It will be interesting to read them when they’re completed.

  2. Frank,
    Thanks for pointing out the last 4 minutes. That’s EXACTLY what we want students to do. It reminds me so much of what is described in Wendy Drexler’s “Networked Student” video.

  3. What do you think of the concept of “unschooling”? What Sal Khan describes sounds similar to it.

    • I love the concept of unschooling. Seems similar to the Independent Project video I linked to in my “indictment” post. Would love to see students have 20% “google time” for a single project that spanned most of the high school’s 4 years.

  4. With all the press Khan has been getting I’m sure there’s some research projects being planned around the KA.

    Hopefully they’re not the type that essentially check how well students are being programmed.

  5. Thanks for the video, Frank. Interesting indeed.

    @ Steve, “Our students focusing on 5 or 6 completely different subjects every day.” My brother, a high school math teachers, claims that this is one of the worst things about students’ school experience.

  6. In describing making a video he keeps going back to asking why, but in classrooms across America if you ask why the teacher doesn’t have time or the luxury to answer that question.

    • Then that’s a problem that we must change in our classrooms, right? Khan Academy improves upon the traditional education system. I say we need to overhaul the system completely, so that students experience the deep, immersive learning that Sal does when he prepares to make his videos. Of course, that means rethinking what education means for students today.

  7. Pingback: Khan Academy: My Final Remarks | Action-Reaction

  8. These pre-digested videos work well for me as point of departure in comparison to textbooks I’ve encountered.

    I am an twenty-eight year old adult learner and recently began watching Khan’s videos, beginning with Geometry, moving onto trig because I am planning the design of and will build my own house and felt my knowledge of basic angle math to be a bit rocky: In high school, I never studied math at “advanced” levels and thus need to learn auto-didactically at this moment rather than take the time to find a teacher or go to back to school for a number of years. I am extremely motivated and capable of using these videos as a tool and then self-directing the expansion and application of these concepts in the practical realm, my building project being the lab or proving ground.

    I have developed an interest independently in inquiry and expansion of knowledge to the end of being able to realise the endless stream of ideas that are constantly exploding from my out of control imagination.

    Have you ever taken your educational concepts to the extreme of life-long learning? It’s wonderful that the possibility exists for reform in the educational sector but I can’t go back to high school to take free courses so I just rely on my own determination and I wouldn’t suggest that someone is responsible for making it “easier” on me but I’d be curious to know how one finds a mentor or a guide via the internet. Perhaps at my age, I shouldn’t heed the debate or criticism surrounding different educational tools, take what I need from them and leave the rest. I suppose my nature leads me to develop knowledge regardless. I don’t see that I will confine my ability to apply these concepts if I am using them directly in a practical application.

    When I was living in Berlin there were a lot of group learning projects who favoured a common work space as opposed even to auto-didactic courses as a means of working out problems(suggesting probles even) and group sharing of knowledge and skills. One of the more inspiring and fertile grounds I’ve yet encountered.

    I’m interest in “public education” as something that is available to everyone of all ages but perhaps it is and I will learn what I need to know inevitably due to my pursuit. How do adults find teachers? Maybe it needn’t be organised; it’s out there for those who look? I know many organise autonomously.

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