From Hacked Education:
Khan Academy announced this morning that it has raised $5 million from the O’Sullivan Foundation (a foundation created by Irish engineer and investor Sean O’Sullivan). The money is earmarked for several initiatives: expanding the Khan Academy faculty, creating a content management system so that others can use the program’s learning analytics system, and building an actual brick-and-mortar school, beginning with a summer camp program.
“Teachers don’t scale,” I remember Sal Khan saying to me when I interviewed him last year. What can scale, he argues, is the infrastructure for content delivery. And that means you just need a handful of good lecturers’ record their lessons; the Internet will take care of the rest.
But online instruction clearly isn’t enough, and as “blended learning” becomes the latest buzzword — that is, a blend of offline and computer-mediated/online instruction — Khan Academy is now eyeing building its own school. The money from the O’Sullivan Foundation will go towards developing a “testbed for physical programs and K-12 curricula,” including an actual physical Khan Academy school.
What might Khan’s “school of the future” look like?
In his video interview with GOOD Magazine, Khan said:
As far as the future of learning is concerned, the school is going to be one or two really big classrooms, and because everyone can work at their own pace, we are going to see the best be a higher bar and you’re going to see everyone having access to that and they can move up with the best.
One or two large classrooms where everyone works at their own pace? That sounds a lot like Rick Ogston’s Carpe Diem school:
Matt Lander reports the following from his visit to Carpe Diem:
Carpe Diem is a hybrid model school, rotating kids between self-paced instruction on the computer and classroom instruction. Their building is laid out with one large computer lab, with classroom space in the back. They had 240 students working on computers when I walked in, and you could have heard a pin drop.
Carpe Diem has successfully substituted technology for labor. With seven grade levels and 240 students they have only 1 math teacher and one aide who focuses on math. [emphasis mine]
Carpe Diem also touts they get great results with less per pupil spending. How? Well, as implied above, they have fewer teachers and staff. Also, take a look at the Carpe Diem Parent/Student handbook and you can see why: they have NO nurse and NO food service. Other ways I bet they save on money, compared to a regular public school: there is very little equipment to buy (aside from computers and furniture) — no art supplies, no science labs, no physical education equipment, etc. It seems Carpe Diem also lack special programs: no special education, no athletics, and no performing arts. We also have the problem of using standardized test scores to measure success. I think what is more important is: How many are successful in college? How many stay on past freshman year?
Carpe Diem is really an online school that also has a few brick and mortar campuses. The curriculum they use for both their virtual and physical schools is called e2020. From e2020’s website:
e2020 then designs each lesson with student-centered objectives that maximize the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains. Lessons are designed in order to provide the student with an optimal learning experience that is unique for each course. Students progress through the lesson with a series of activities such as, direct instruction videos by certified teachers; vocabulary instruction: interactive lab simulations; journals and essay writing; 21st century skills; activities that include projects, design proposals, case studies, on-line content reading; and homework/practice before being formatively assessed with a quiz. Topic test and cumulative exam reviews are provided to reinforce mastery prior to students’ taking summative assessments.
So the kids work through the modules at their cubicles and can seek out extra help at “workshops.” You can test some of the modules if you register here. For the science modules I tested, there are periodic multiple choice assessments. The in-module labs are all simulations — no manipulation on any physical equipment. It seems kids can pass the state exams based on their module work, but I wager they will be severely ill equipped for college or the real world, especially in STEM fields.
My issues with this blended/hybrid model of school:
- The conception of learning seems to be isolated, rather than group.
- It appears to teach/assess mostly low-order practices.
- I can’t see how physics and chemistry could be done well, and thus contribute to developing the STEM workforce.
- How can ONE teacher be versed in pedagogically appropriate ways of helping students across SEVEN grade levels?
Blended learning schools like Carpe Diem pale in comparison to what schools like High Tech High are doing:
Where would you rather go to school?