Khan Academy Conversation

The Khan Academy is a site that we have been following with interest for some time.  This link gives a good overview of it, what it offers, and how teachers, parents, and students could use it.  Its library of videos covers k-12 math, science and some humanities.  Browse their free educational videos here.

Here’s a snapshot conversation of some of our thinking and questioning about Khan Academy.

Cheridy:  Hey Kacey, have you heard of The Khan Academy?

Kacey: Yeah, the tech guys from TWIT have talked about it.  I checked it out when it first came out but just took another look.  Thanks for reminding me about it! WOW! It sure has expanded since the last time I browsed his lessons.

Cheridy:  Will you use it in your class?

Kacey: Absolutely! I love how students will be able to access it anytime and anywhere.  The lessons are short but include multiple strategies.  I think I'll incorporate this lesson  into our new unit on division! Students and parents can then access the videos from home.  Did you see the practice section?  You can log in and see your proficiency on a math concept.  I love that students can work at their own pace,  track their progress, and receive “awards.”  It looks like Khan Academy received a Google Grant in September 2010.  They used the money to hire a team to build out the structure of the site.  You can watch the CNN video.  They will be translating the content into different languages and expanding the content into other areas of study.  Also, I liked the video where Salman Khan talks at the MIT Club of Northern California . He talked about starting the site as well as research they did with students in a summer program.  He also gave this TED Talk.

Cheridy:   I also noticed that the teachers or parents can track the students’ progress if they login as a coach and have students add them as a coach.  It appears they can get class reports as well.  The way that the statistics for each student are shown reminds me of the Seedlings podcast I listened to on The Horizon Project that mentions how technology will make data like this more manageable and meaningful, allowing teachers to potentially individualize instruction more.

Kacey:  There are some positives to this site and concept.  On the other hand, I have a few questions like how will I be able to keep students from "getting help" from parents or peers on the actual practice test, so I can see it is their work?  There still needs to be a second assessment that I'm in charge of.  Slip-age between the cracks can still happen.   Also, you need to have a gmail account to document your progress.  Some kids have it and some don't.  However, even if they are looking at the videos it could still be helpful.

Do you see any drawbacks?

Cheridy:   I’m not a math or science teacher, so I don’t feel comfortable talking about the quality of the videos.  From a language perspective I liked how in the few videos I reviewed some of the math vocabulary was written down.  (It would be good to see even more of this.) This can be very useful for ELLs.  He also drew pictures, which can be useful, and related it to real life examples. 

Kacey:  I LOVE the idea of kids working at their own pace.

Cheridy:  I agree with you on individualizing instruction.  I also teach online courses and create my own videos in my content area for my classes.  This can be a ton of work, but I get just enough positive feedback from my students to continue my endeavors.  It seems to me that the demand for quality, short 5-15 minute videos in all academic disciplines for educational purposes is there.  I can see using them in a variety of ways, both inside and outside the class.   It is interesting to think how this type of product and instruction could influence education. 

Kacey:  This also makes me think about the book Disrupting Class that we talked about last summer.  Did you know there was a new edition?  I haven’t read it yet but heard Michael Horn interviewed on The Future of Education by Steve Hargadon.

Cheridy:  The whole concept reminds me of Flipped Instruction Model  that I will highlight in our April Links of the Month post. 

Conversation Wrap Up:  It’s evident our conversations never have a tidy wrap up.  We continue to explore our findings and views on this type of video integration and how it fits into the larger picture of tech and ed.  And as a final thought…  There’s an app for that.

Happy learning!

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