A few weeks ago I was interviewed for MSNBC.com’s “Future of Technology” series for a story on Khan Academy and online lectures. I appear in these two videos:Vodpod videos no longer available.
View it on MSNBC.com: Khan Academy sparks education reform debate
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View it on MSNBC.com: Teaching with technology: What works in class
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I am grateful to the show’s producers, Matt Rivera and Wilson Rothman, for giving me the opportunity to share my work in the classroom and for staying true to my main criticisms. And extra kudos to Matt for what I fear is now commonplace in journalism: he was a one-man show — he brought and set up all the equipment (camera, lights, and sound) AND conducted the interview. Thanks!
My name is Kevin Hutchinson, and I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I like your stand on technology in the second video. Dr. Strange refers to the “spitting” back information you discuss as “burp back” learning. Your use of technology for collaborative exercises are the perfect way to help students stay engaged. The technology used in your class is not a crutch; it is tool the students are able to use in order to understand the concepts discussed in class rather than memorize information for the test. As a future educator, I appreciate and admire your position and efforts in the classroom.
You’ve nailed it: “The technology used in your class is not a crutch; it is tool the students are able to use in order to understand the concepts discussed in class rather than memorize information for the test.” Sounds like you are well on your way to becoming a great teacher. Good luck!
Great stuff as always Frank.
I think that you might give a touch too much credit to the editing here. I’m just assuming here that you made a point about lecture not being a good way to teach. They frame the idea that these are just lectures, but I don’t feel like they really made the point that the research chows that lectures aren’t great. I was also straining my ramen at the time, so perhaps I missed it. 🙂
I did talk about PER, Hestenes, Mazur, and the FCI. But 30+ minutes of interview footage needed to be pared down to fit into this 5 minute piece.
So, for anyone who stumbles upon this post and wants more information about why lecture is a less effective way to teach, I highly recommend the new 3-part story from American Public Media: “Don’t Lecture Me.” In particular, “Part 2: The Problem with Lecturing”
I don’t see how your points could be made better, or more clearly in the amount of time given to your point of view. Excellent examples, with clear explanations. I don’t mean to pimp MSNBC but I don’t think I’ve seen a more balanced report on Khan than this one. Very nice work Frank, and great to see your POV getting out there. Congratulations on all the effort you’ve put into this – nice payoff and I hope for more.
Did I detect a hint of agreement between you and Sal Khan? Follow me here. He pointed out that education is basically a game now, with points and badges called grades and diplomas. I haven’t looked at his KA games, but it looked like kids get “badges” for mastering specific skills. This sounds suspiciously like SBG. (Big caveat- depending on implementation and utilization) Would it be so bad to give someone a Third Order of Newton badge when they can consistently identify third law pairs and recognize their relative strengths?
You’re right. Even my students commented on the similarity. There’s a difference (in my mind) between a Newton’s Third Law badge and a badge for watching 20 minutes of video. I also don’t have a problem with Scout Badges or belts in karate. They recognize skill in a particular area. Some badges like “Apprentice Trigonometrician” require you to be proficient in several skills, which are OK by me (if we put aside what it means to be “proficient” in Khan Academy). But unfortunately, most badges are about watching videos, going for streaks, and accumulating energy points. You can see all the badges here: http://www.khanacademy.org/badges/view
I looked at the badges. I agree – some are meaningful and some are not. Why would I need to answer 80 exercises quickly and correctly?
In my view the badges that aren’t related to proficiency are a product of the medium. In a classroom with the direct interaction between a teacher and students there is an opportunity for lots of small points of feedback and encouragement that help motivate. Much of that opportunity is lost though when the interaction is with a website. The system of badges that have been adopted is something I see as a reasonably substitute for that personal interaction given those limitations. My understanding is that that studies into game design have shown that small, frequent rewards are a very effective method of motivation.
Another consideration is that those badges motivate towards actions that I think Kahn and the others behind the design of the site believe contribute to the gaining of proficiency. Watching more videos means being exposed to more areas of mathematics and building a steak or accumulating energy points means spending time practicing skills.
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As a WordPress user, I understand your frustration with not being able to embed videos. I just learned that VodPod.com fixes that. You can post your videos there and they will give you an embed code that will work on WordPress. Just passing this along in case you find it helpful.
Thanks for the tip! I’ve gone back and updated the post with the videos embedded. Works great!
One word really stood out to me when Sal was talking about how teachers might use his materials. He kept on saying “core”- “core skills,” “core lectures,” “core content.” He probably means this well, as he sees this as leaving more room for experimentation. But the assumption that experimentation, inquiry and critical thinking are extras that are added onto the central “delivery” of these ‘core’ pieces of knowledge. While I agree that much of education has been taught with these priorities, this is not the kind of education I want to approximate with my students nor the way I think of the knowledge I want them to get out of it.
Scary, isn’t it? He makes the same statements in this Edutopia video (I’ve got it cued up to the right spot): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmtgz95ZBbE#t=5m
Skills first, THEN projects, he says. Preposterous.
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