Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Wrath of Khan

With his tutorial videos, Khan Academy has made a big splash in the education world. Having Bill Gates sing your praises in a TED Talk is a sure way to get a lot of attention.

Over at Action-Reaction, Frank Noschese has an article Khan Academy: My Final Remarks. I agree with many of his points. Here is a quote from near the end of the post:
Khan Academy is just one tool in a teacher’s arsenal. (If it’s the only tool, that is a HUGE problem.) Khan Academy can be useful for some kids as a vehicle (build skills) to help them get to better places (solving complex problems).
Here are some other bloggers putting KA into some reasonable context:
It's comforting to see that I am not alone in thinking that if Khan is really the future of education, then we are in deep doodoo. Frankly, I would not really call Khan Academy’s stuff “education,” but rather would consider it “instruction.” If we turn education into nothing but a series of activities that a microchip can perform, then we are on a very dangerous path.

I don't mean to be a Khan basher. When using KA as a way to support struggling students, or as a way to help flip a classroom and allow teachers to focus on engaging with students, it can have great value. The Daily Riff has The Flipped Class Manifest, which provides some insights into how and when flipping a classroom can work, as well as a nice set of links to articles that provide more depth.

Back in 2007 (before I ever heard of Khan Academy), I started developing instructional videos that are somewhat similar to Khan’s work. I think they are great tools, but they are not the be-all and end-all of online education. We need to continue to innovate, but shouldn't get too carried away by the latest educational fad and think it will solve all our problems.

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