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How Education Is Changing Thanks To Khan Academy

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the knowledge-distribution-engine dept.

Education 240

An anonymous reader writes "Wired reports on how freely-available lectures from Khan Academy are affecting both teaching methods and learning methods in classrooms across the country. From the article: 'Initially, Thordarson thought Khan Academy would merely be a helpful supplement to her normal instruction. But it quickly become far more than that. She's now on her way to "flipping" the way her class works. This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan's videos, which students can watch at home. Then, in class, they focus on working problem sets. The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed on the kids' own time and homework is done at school. ... It's when they're doing homework that students are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to need someone to talk to. And now Thordarson can tell just when this grappling occurs: Khan Academy provides teachers with a dashboard application that lets her see the instant a student gets stuck. "I'm able to give specific, pinpointed help when needed, she says. The result is that Thordarson's students move at their own pace. Those who are struggling get surgically targeted guidance, while advanced kids ... rocket far ahead; once they're answering questions without making mistakes, Khan's site automatically recommends new topics to move on to.'"

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240 comments

KHAN!!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785218)

KHAN!!!

Salman Khan suggested it... (5, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 3 years ago | (#36785294)

Isn't this just doing what Salman Khan suggested in his TED talk [ted.com] ? He proposed that teachers should use class time for supervising and assisting in problem solving, and that students should watch lessons at home.

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785390)

I agree - this makes total sense in today's video on demand culture. Well done!

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (3, Interesting)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 3 years ago | (#36785402)

Pretty much, all according to plan.

I can't help being jealous of these kids -- I imagine like many people here, being able to learn exactly at my own pace would have done a lot to keep me engaged in school.

I hope this catches on with public schools. It may be one of the most important shifts in education since... well, ever. Finally, technology in the classroom means something.

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (2)

mmarlett (520340) | about 3 years ago | (#36785770)

That is actually how my elementry school worked. By the time I was half way through sixth grade, me and two of my friends had exhausted the educational materials, which only covered up to the eighth grade. When I went to a normal Jr. high in the 7th grade, I fell on my face. I was sooooo goddamned bored. I didn't do the most basic assignments. Can't we just agree that I know this and let me move on?

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (2)

stephathome (1862868) | about 3 years ago | (#36785836)

It sounds great to me too. My daughter already deals with the frustration of being ahead of most of her classmates, and while my son has just finished kindergarten, I suspect he's going to have the same issue soon enough, as he picks this stuff up really fast. I've actually thought about having them go through the early arithmetic videos a bit this summer as review, rather than just doing the occasional practice problems (very occasional, just enough to help them remember more over the summer). If the school isn't going to use it, it may be a decent parental tool, even though it means more time studying for the kids.

I agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786064)

There have been a lot of very depressing headlines lately. I enjoyed reading this article quite a lot. It is nice to know that not *everything* is slowly sliding into ruin.

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (2)

bondsbw (888959) | about 3 years ago | (#36785424)

Sounds like the solution to the problem of parents who aren't normally supportive of their child's education.

(Yes, I'm aware that many parents are unable to support their child in this way due to both knowledge and time constraints. Not trying to troll here.)

But this isn't a new concept. When I was in school, we often did assignments in the classroom and read chapters at home. This is just a new video format. But as it turned out, we rarely had to do much of the reading, as the hands-on assignments would cover 95% of what would be tested.

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785472)

(Yes, I'm aware that many parents are unable to support their child in this way due to both knowledge and time constraints. Not trying to troll here.)

It's a matter of priorities. It amazes me how Asian parents have plenty of time to support their children when it comes to education compared to other parents. While other kids are playing video games and watching shit TV, Asian kids are hitting the books - generally speaking.

asian kids are getting hit with books? (1)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#36785568)

thats horrible. well, at least it's not wire coathangers.

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786538)

What Asians are you talking about? I went to a school that was 70% Asian (Hmongs, Vietnamese, Laosians, Cambodian) and very few of them were what I would call advanced. Most just drank, did drugs, got pregnant and ditched school. The parents didn't give a shit, either, since they tended to be the same way.

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 3 years ago | (#36785702)

Sounds like the solution to the problem of parents who aren't normally supportive of their child's education.

This is all about getting the most out of their time in the classroom, and should benefit all types of students. It shifts time wasted on fast learners to the slow learners. It's really not there to compensate for poor parental support.

Fast learners can fast forward lectures at home once they understand a subject, take a quick test in class, then move on to the next thing without any teacher involvement. Slow learners can pause and rewind at home, and get dedicated support in class. Teachers can accurately view the progress of all their students. Everyone wins.

One interesting point he makes in his talks is that every student will, at some time, hit a speed bump and get knocked into the "slow" category. In the current system, if it happens at the wrong time the student can be screwed long-term—leaving them perpetually behind, with poor test scores and no hope of advanced placement. In Khan's system, the student is allowed to learn at their own pace and usually catches up to everyone else.

Re:Salman Khan suggested it... (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 3 years ago | (#36785506)

It makes a lot of sense. I've seen a trend of people that don't even go to class, and study by themselves, or go to class to waste their time.

I'm from the view, that they are paying a person to teach the class, and necessarily they know the topic and I'd be able to ask them as much as I can. So even though some people think a student should be letting the professor teach the class, and asking students are annoying. I believe that they're not there to read me the book, but to clear my doubts.

No computer/Internet? (2)

ctrimm (1955430) | about 3 years ago | (#36785304)

This is a great idea when it comes to the way kids learn and where they struggle.

I'm wondering, though, what happens when a student doesn't have a computer or internet access.

Re:No computer/Internet? (3, Interesting)

deniable (76198) | about 3 years ago | (#36785338)

Yet another way for 'that kid' to get marginalised in school. I also wonder why we're teaching them to take work home. Does anyone else think homework is a problem?

Who is "that kid"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785476)

Who exactly is "that kid" that you're talking about? The minority youth whose only ambition in life is to become a "thug"? The one who goes out of his way to avoid getting any sort of an education? The one who speaks his native language like he's a fucking moron? The one who wears his pants at his ankles? The one who intentionally seeks out violence, and abuses drugs and alcohol?

No, nothing can be done for him. He's a failure. Some kids just are. Don't blame greater society, the schools or the educators for such youth doing everything in their power to fail at every aspect of life.

Yes, the answer is to marginalize such youth. There is no hope for them, and they are not worth our time to try to save. There are many more deserving youth who should get such attention instead. You know, the ones who come from impoverish backgrounds, but who actually want to learn.

Re:Who is "that kid"? (3, Insightful)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 3 years ago | (#36785594)

Who exactly is "that kid" that you're talking about? The minority youth whose only ambition in life is to become a "thug"? The one who goes out of his way to avoid getting any sort of an education? The one who speaks his native language like he's a fucking moron? The one who wears his pants at his ankles? The one who intentionally seeks out violence, and abuses drugs and alcohol?

No, nothing can be done for him. He's a failure. Some kids just are. Don't blame greater society, the schools or the educators for such youth doing everything in their power to fail at every aspect of life.

Yes, the answer is to marginalize such youth. There is no hope for them, and they are not worth our time to try to save. There are many more deserving youth who should get such attention instead. You know, the ones who come from impoverish backgrounds, but who actually want to learn.

Not sure if you're trying to be satirical.

Anyway, such things can be improved. Go into an inner-city school and watch a good talk on gender abuse. Boys who otherwise think it's normal to abuse their girlfriends often have a major breakthrough when they make the connection to child abuse--and pretty much everyone in that environment is familiar with child abuse. Lives can improve. People can improve.

Of course it's easier to marginalize, and to avoid that segment of society altogether, for the individual. But for society as a whole, we are far better off if we don't.

Writing off people is dangerous in the long run (2)

fantomas (94850) | about 3 years ago | (#36785916)

"Yes, the answer is to marginalize such youth. There is no hope for them, and they are not worth our time to try to save. "
Writing off people is a dangerous and expensive game to play. Not spending an extra $10K, $20K on educating kids from marginalised/ messed up families now now means somebody who ten years down the line might well decide the only way to get on in society because they aren't literate and have no qualifications is to turn to crime, mug you/ steal your car/shoot somebody you know/ or similar, mess up several people's lives, then have to be kept in prison for 30 years on your tax payers money at probably a lot more than $10K a year.

You get to decide....

Re:No computer/Internet? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 years ago | (#36785560)

The student might not have an internet connection at home. The student might not have a home. The student might have parents who live in a crack house.

Surely we can't leave any part of a child's success up to his/her parents. Kids should live in free dormitories and have supervised visits (maybe they can have TSA agents act as chaparones in their free time) from their 'birth parents.'

Re:No computer/Internet? (3, Informative)

eepok (545733) | about 3 years ago | (#36785722)

I didn't have an internet connection or a computer. I barely had a home. My parents were drug addicts. I'm glad my teachers didn't leave my education up to my parents. I would have turned out just like my parents, otherwise.

I would have loved to live in a free dormitory.

Instead, I was one of the few kids to make it out of my area (likely the only one genuine below the poverty level) and in to college. There, I got involved with other peoples educations and made a career of higher education outreach into low-income middle schools, high schools, and community colleges.

No, we can't leave any part of a child's success to his/her parents. We can do our best to involve them, but if the parents fail, then the child fails, and we in education fail. We're not allowed to fail.

Re:No computer/Internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785894)

Thank you for your work, sincerely.

Re:No computer/Internet? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785800)

That sounds wonderful. I'm lobbying for parenting reform starting tomorrow. Who is with me?

Lots of people (1)

fantomas (94850) | about 3 years ago | (#36785932)

We volunteer on school programs, help on literacy schemes, get involved in also sorts of grassroots community programs that help support local communities become stronger and help each other. We'd love you to get involved.

Re:No computer/Internet? (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 years ago | (#36786604)

I know some schools in Toronto Canada have stopped assigning homework [tvo.org] . Studies have shown that there's little if any benefit to assigning homework. And when homework is dropped altogether, many students do better.

Re:No computer/Internet? (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | about 3 years ago | (#36786608)

Yes. Because feedback is king. When solving difficult math or science problems, doing homework and then getting the grade back a week later does very little to help you learn. This is because by the time the grades get in, the train of thought during the problem-solving period is long gone. While hopefully future generations of parents will be able to mentor their own children in their younger years, the whole point of going to school or university is to be under the tutelage of someone very well versed in the material.

Students need to be applying and using concepts with the supervision of the teachers, who can guide them as they make mistakes or have difficulty. not the next day or a week later. This 'new' system sounds like what should have been happening all along. It's been done before in the form of apprenticeships or trade guilds

Re:No computer/Internet? (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 3 years ago | (#36786718)

It wasn't for me, but high school was 39 years ago, and I was expected to work and meet certain standards for graduation.

Is it your point that homework is too much for students today?

Re:No computer/Internet? (1)

stephathome (1862868) | about 3 years ago | (#36785960)

Same here. I'm thinking this would take access after school at the school for kids who don't have internet at home, or some sort of program to lend computers and pay for basic internet access in the home.

Not the same thing at all, but my daughter's online charter school did just that. Computers were loaned for the school year, and a check sent to subsidize a part of our internet access costs. Pretty nice program to ensure that kids could do the program even if it was hard for their parents to afford such things.

Khan Academy has English lessons, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785308)

>But it quickly become far more than that.
>it quickly become far more
>become
wat.

Re:Khan Academy has English lessons, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785386)

Engrish.

Re:Khan Academy has English lessons, right? (1)

siride (974284) | about 3 years ago | (#36785870)

It might be the dialectical past tense of "come" which is "come", not "came". "come" as the past tense is more etymologically correct, but the alternate form "came" took over in most places and is now the standard.

Re:Khan Academy has English lessons, right? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36786332)

"come" as the past tense is more etymologically correct

[citation needed]

But anyway, we're talking about become. Verbs that end the same way don't necessarily decline the same way. You don't say "The host welcame me to the party", do you?

Re:Khan Academy has English lessons, right? (2, Insightful)

siride (974284) | about 3 years ago | (#36786642)

In Old English, the past tense of "cuman" was either "com" (with long o) or "cam" (with long a), neither of which would have produced "came". You can consult any book on Old English to find the conjugation of such a common verb. My one Middle English book only gives "com" and "come" as the past tense of that verb, although with no textual citations. So I went and found an online Middle English dictionary and looked up "comen" (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med-idx?size=First+100&type=headword&q1=comen&rgxp=constrained) and found this: "ME p. sg. cam, com & p. pl. ca:men, ke:me(n are analogical formations, modeled largely on the type of stal, ste:len." (a: and e: are my edits to indicate long a and e, respectively). Note that it lists "com" as the normal past tense. I don't know what the frequency of "cam" vs. "co:m", but my guess is that the former must have eventually become frequent enough to take over for most dialects.

Now on to your second point. It's true that just because one sees the morpheme "come" does not mean the verb necessarily conjugates (not declines) like the base verb "come". However, in the case of "become", we know that it does in fact conjugate the same as the base. In fact, pretty much all verbs that are formed by adding a prefix like be- and for- are conjugated the same as the base verb. You only get a different conjugation when the stem in question is laundered through another part of speech. In the case of "welcome", there is a noun "welcome" and that is the basis for the verb "to welcome", which is thus conjugated like a weak verb (as all verbs derived from nouns are conjugated). The derivation seems to go back to Old English, where the verb was "wilcumian" (http://www.bosworthtoller.com/035723) and thus a weak verb derived from a noun.

Final point: it's entirely possible that it was just a typographic or spelling error. Not knowing whether the writer of the sentence in question is from an area where they speak a dialect that has "come" as the past tense of "come", I cannot say for sure which is the actual case. Either way, it's really just not that big a deal.

Students without broadband (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36785320)

From the summary: "This involves replacing some of her lectures with Khan's videos, which students can watch at home." So what do K-12 students without broadband at home do? Go to a public library every day?

Re:Students without broadband (2)

Cap'nPedro (987782) | about 3 years ago | (#36785340)

Wikipedia tells me that "twelfth grade (12) [is] for 16–19-year-olds". When I was 16 and in college I was using the college library every day. I think that an effective education must involve independent learning, which will often involve a library. Younger students can't be expected to be learning independently, but once a student is 15 or 16, they should be in the library most days anyway.

School bus (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36785362)

Apparently some countries use terms cognate to "college" to mean secondary education, or what U.S. residents call "high school". Where I went to high school, after the final bell, students had five minutes to board the school bus. If a student chooses to stay late to spend time in the library, how is such a student expected to get home?

Re:School bus (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 3 years ago | (#36785412)

I don't there are schoolbuses in Europe. (There isn't in Hungary for sure.) Kids just take public transportation.

Re:School bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785510)

That is true for parts of the US too. Schoolbuses are for those areas where public transit would be inadequate for the task - suburbia or lightly urban areas.

Re:School bus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785832)

So basically everywhere in the US except for downtown New York and downtown Chicago.

Re:School bus (3, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 years ago | (#36785464)

on the late bus? Seriously I used it all the time to get home. it was the bus that dropped off sports teams, after school detention students, and students doing after school projects(class president, various clubs, etc)

It ran something like 2-3 hours later. I liked those days, as I would do my after school project then my homework and leave all my stuff in my locker for the next day. I wouldn't have to carry much home.

Car culture (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36785490)

on the late bus?

If my school district made such a "late bus" available while I was in school, I was never notified of it. Perhaps it's just the car culture prevalent in my country: parents are expected to own and use cars, and by the time the "late bus" would leave, the parent is expected to be off work.

Re:Car culture (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 3 years ago | (#36785574)

The schools are responsible for sending students home. Just because you never heard of it doesn't mean much. It just means you never bothered looking.

Also that is in NY. It was either the late bus or a 25 mile walk home for some kids.

Re:Car culture (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 3 years ago | (#36785886)

In Indiana there was no 'late bus'. If you chose to do an "extra curricular" then it was just that, extra. You walked, got picked up by your parents or found friends. I remember closing the public library at 8 pm after being there since 5, 5 days a week while my mom got off work and came over to get me.

Re:Car culture (1)

stephathome (1862868) | about 3 years ago | (#36785974)

My school had a late bus too, southern California. The way schools are cutting buses in my area now, however, I don't know how such things would be worked.

Re:Car culture (1)

xkuehn (2202854) | about 3 years ago | (#36786508)

The schools are responsible for sending students home.

They me be in your part of the world. They're not in mine. We also didn't have any late bus.

Re:Car culture (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 years ago | (#36786658)

In Ottawa Canada, they just give all the bus students (in highschool) local transit passes. The school saves money by not having to pay for specialty buses, and the kids don't have to worry about missing the bus. Kids should be able to navigate public transit by the time they are 14 anyway.

Re:School bus (2)

dcollins (135727) | about 3 years ago | (#36786248)

Look at me! I assume that my personal experience is universally applicable. I'm awesome!

Re:School bus (1)

Cap'nPedro (987782) | about 3 years ago | (#36785468)

In the UK there aren't generally school buses for college (age 16 to 18), I used public transport (service buses) or cycled. Through secondary school (age 11 to 16) there were school-buses which would leave immediately after lessons finished however a mini-bus occasionally took people home doing after school activities. If that wasn't available you could either use public transport or do as I did and walk home (I only lived 5 miles from my secondary school).

Re:School bus (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36785504)

or do as I did and walk home (I only lived 5 miles from my secondary school).

There are thought to be too many child predators for an hour and a half of walking every day.

Re:School bus (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 years ago | (#36785602)

My moron in-laws think there are too many child predators in the two blocks between my mother in law's and sister in law's house. They don't live in a bad area. There's just a pervasive car-culture at play.

Re:School bus (1)

maxume (22995) | about 3 years ago | (#36785904)

That has to be among the most ridiculous things you have ever posted.

Which is really saying something.

Re:School bus (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 years ago | (#36785576)

I didn't like the kids (namely the bullies) on the bus when I went to High School. I rode my bike or walked the two miles to school almost every day.

Re:School bus (2)

tabrnaker (741668) | about 3 years ago | (#36786496)

Walk.

I routinely walked the 2.5km to grade school or the 5.5 kms to high school, i even walked the 10.8km to cegep. When you're poor and you want an education you do what you have to.

I did live right in front of the municipal library, but being quebec i exhausted the english section by the time i was about 10. Well, not true, i didn't read all the charlie brown and garfield books they had, never really wasted much time on comics.

I think the distances of my schools is pretty interesting, and of course, my university is apparently 21.8km away, though by that time i moved to housing right beside university.

Re:Students without broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785366)

I don't know any student that age, even the ones in college classes, and AP classes, and honors classes, that is in the library every day. And not all students have access to a college library, or even a public library. And our public library has HORRIBLE internet.

Re:Students without broadband (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 3 years ago | (#36785376)

The lectures are done in class. They kids don't have to view them at home, they simple CAN if they want a refresher. They can do the same at the school itself after hours, or the public library.

they simply can if they have broadband... (2)

fantomas (94850) | about 3 years ago | (#36785840)

"They kids don't have to view them at home, they simple CAN if they want a refresher. They can do the same at the school itself after hours, or the public library."
In my country:
- not all kids have access to a computer and broadband at home
- school libraries are mostly not open after school closes at 4pm, lack of funding
- public libraries are not always within reach of school children

Those that can afford, get better. Lower income kids would fall behind.

Re:Students without broadband (4, Informative)

The Second Horseman (121958) | about 3 years ago | (#36786022)

Good luck in a lot of places finding a public library that's open when you'd need it to be. Public libraries are closing or cutting hours and services at an alarming rate.

One of the problems with educational reformers is that things that work on a small scale - only put in the best teachers, get parents involved, etc. can't always be replicated on a large scale. And they need to realize that. You can't have 100% excellent teachers. What's the current number - not even a third of the US population gets a 4-year college degree? Exactly how can we pay to have millions of brilliant teachers? Especially when teachers are under attack, there's pressure to drive pay down, etc. And a huge part of public school problems are actually societal problems. We've got drugs, crime, malnutrition, poverty, uninvolved/absent parents, lead poisoning, lousy school facilities and so forth. And the public schools can't cherry pick.

And at a time when standardized tests are being used to evaluate teachers and schools, the kids have no stake in the tests. And there's a ton of pressure (some of it based on the raft of IEPs given to students for all sorts of reasons - some legit, some ridiculous) to grade kids based on effort and not outcome. You want to make adjustments for kids with issues? Provide both absolute and adjusted grades.

And the cost to support students with learning or behavioral problems is high. It's not unheard of now to have a classroom with three or four kids with individual aides, plus there's an assistant teacher to deal with kids who have less-stringent IEPs, plus the lead teacher. Unless, of course, you teach art, music, industrial arts, etc. Then, the aides get that as a break period. So you've got 25 kids in the room - a bunch of whom get aides in other classes and some for behavioral reasons - with no help. And you received no training in how to deal with those students as part of your education.

Re:Students without broadband (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#36786324)

"So what do K-12 students without broadband at home do? Go to a public library every day?"

No, teachers can download the content for those without internet access:

http://www.khanacademy.org/downloads [khanacademy.org]

Re:Students without broadband (1)

jelle (14827) | about 3 years ago | (#36786572)

Get a DVD with the video to bring home? Or a VHS tape? You don't need broadband to watch a video, you know.

Good lectures need done once. (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 3 years ago | (#36785322)

I'm glad to see that this is finally happening. A "good" lecture on a subject needs to only be done once. It seem like a waste repeating the same thing year after year. Where students (speaking for myself) need help is in the actual implementation of the lecture subject. Now that the students are doing 'homework' in class, that resource is available. And if Kahn's methods don't work for you, then maybe there need to be 3-4 different teaching styles. One that is heavy on theory light on examples, heavy on examples and light on theory and some that mix it up a bit.

In college we would get together in study groups or the teacher or TA had office hours (hopefully). For elementary, middle and high school students this really isn't an option. They're usually in class all day and then go home. So if they get hung up on something simple they're essentially stalled. Resulting in frustration, loss of interest and possibly a bad grade. Thankfully my teachers would often assign at least one 'type' of problem where the answer was in the back of the book. If I didn't get it I could figure out how to get the right answer and then apply that to other problems.

This worked all the way up through this year when I took a graduate level linear algebra class. The teacher made Ben Stein look animated. The course material was very dry and it was way too theoretical (for myself). If a homework answer wasn't in the back of the book. I'd find a similar problem that did have the answer, work through it to get the solution and feel a bit more confident on the homework problems. I can't name the number of "Eureka!" moments I had while doing homework.

I'd much rather watch a video on how to do something (welding, car repair, etc) and have someone watch over my shoulder while I do it and be there for questions than have them lecture to me and then go "alright, now you get to do it blind". I'm glad to see that teachers are getting an opportunity to 'teach' rather than 'lecture'.

Re:Good lectures need done once. (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 years ago | (#36785660)

A "good" lecture on a subject needs to only be done once. It seem like a waste repeating the same thing year after year.

I agree. And since the norm at many large universities has been that lab/work sessions can be conducted by underpaid 'TA' grad students, and the only work responsibility for the anointed professor is to give the lectures, perhaps it's time to lay off a big bunch of those high-paid professors. They've made themselves redudant by stepping outside the pedagogical process and the cost savings at our publicly funded schools will be immense.

Re:Good lectures need done once. (1)

mochan_s (536939) | about 3 years ago | (#36785698)

I agree. And since the norm at many large universities has been that lab/work sessions can be conducted by underpaid 'TA' grad students, and the only work responsibility for the anointed professor is to give the lectures, perhaps it's time to lay off a big bunch of those high-paid professors. They've made themselves redudant by stepping outside the pedagogical process and the cost savings at our publicly funded schools will be immense.

Giving undergraduate lectures isn't what a professor primarily does. It's just the necessary crap of being a professor.

Most professors would rather spend their time on research oriented work rather than lectures, esp. undergraduate.

Re:Good lectures need done once. (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 years ago | (#36785944)

Thanks for reinforcing my assertion.

Yes, we all know about Tenure and issues of 'academic freedom' and the essential need for more and more peer-reviewed journal articles to be published.

But that isn't the public perception of why tax dollars should be spent on universities. Many people consider that funding to be for education purposes.

Re:Good lectures need done once. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786182)

How do you support basic research then?

Re:Good lectures need done once. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785662)

I would add that I think that teachers should be encouraged to make their own videos of their lectures and make the innovation one that can take advantage of what every individual teacher has to offer. I know, at least from my experience, one teacher can make all the difference.

Re:Good lectures need done once. (1, Insightful)

trout007 (975317) | about 3 years ago | (#36785750)

I have been saying this for years. A well produced video on a subject would save lots of money by replacing lectures. So try taking this to it's logical conclusion. The school model for teaching is going to go away. If parents have access to educational material on any subject than what good does a traditional teacher serve? You could replace this with a video lecture and private mentor/tutor model. The vast majority of the work of education would be done by video and you can just pay for individual access to a tutor. I have a mechanical engineering degree I got 15 years ago using a standard classroom lecture mode. I recently took some online masters classes. I watched the lectures and then they had videos of the professor setting up and solving problems. It was great because I could keep repeating the video where I was confused. I then could email him when I was truly stuck and he could clarify.

Khan academy has taken this further. Since they are producing these videos instead of just recording a lecture they can refine them using feedback. If something is unclear or wrong someone will give them feedback and they can easily edit the video to correct or clarify. In this ay they are producing a product and keep refining it.

This will be great. We can eliminate schools and their associated costs and replace it with experts working from home where they can concentrate on solving students roadblocks and not wasting time repeating what they already have done. Imagine the savings.

Re:Good lectures need done once. (4, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | about 3 years ago | (#36786626)

I teach physics at a community college. The Wired article made me curious to see how good the Khan videos were. I went to the Khan Academy web site and viewed this one [khanacademy.org] on Newton's law of gravity. He starts off with some kind of interesting, intellectually stimulating stuff about how gravity is ultimately not something we can explain. (He makes one error, but it's not crucial, and it's prefaced with a modest warning that he's not an expert.) Then he writes down Newton's law of gravity without saying anything about where it comes from, how we know it's true, or whether it's been tested by experiment. Next he spends 6 or 7 minutes, almost the entire video, solving a plug-in problem. After that he has a follow-up lecture in which he solves a problem using ratios.

IMO this video might be fine as a supplement for a student who has poor problem-solving skills and needs to see some very explicit step-by-step remedial instruction in how to solve a plug-in problem, but it would be disastrous for a student to get her first introduction to gravity from this lecture. The lecture just presents a formula and plugs in numbers. There is almost no intellectual content there, just some calculations being cranked out using a formula that pops up mysteriously out of nowhere.

A more fundamental issue is that there's a ton of educational research that shows that in physics, traditional lecturing, no matter how competently done, produces extremely poor conceptual understanding. A bunch of the classic papers are by R.R. Hake. The only techniques that lead to better success are techniques that de-emphasize lecturing to a class that sits and passively listens. Since the Khan lectures are still lectures, they are going to have the same shortcomings as any lectures.

I'm glad to see that this is finally happening. A "good" lecture on a subject needs to only be done once. It seem like a waste repeating the same thing year after year.

The problem here is that you're assuming that instruction must consist of a teacher lecturing while students sit silently in their seats. Even if one isn't a true believer in nontraditional techniques, there's a problem when students can't even ask a question.

You do see a lot of big state schools these days taking videos of lectures given in gigantic halls with 300 seats. Students can watch the videos in their jammies sitting in their dorm rooms. This is pathetic. These schools have simply given up on their educational mission for these large freshman lecture classes. The answer isn't to make the 300-student lecture more efficient, it's to admit that the 300-student lecture is a travesty.

we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe te (3, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#36785332)

we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe also get rid of the some of the tests as well or make them more hands on.

In college and some cert tests it's so bad that you can cram for the test and pass but have no idea about how to use, setup, run the stuff covered in the course and at the same time you can have some know knows the course, stuff in a cert really well but sucks at testing and fails the test.

Re:we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | about 3 years ago | (#36785480)

you are laboring under the assumption that the alternative to "teaching to the test" is "teaching well" and have failed to consider the far more likely possibility of "not even teaching to the test..."

Re:we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36785522)

You write like someone who would fail a Turing test.

Re:we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe (1)

dcollins (135727) | about 3 years ago | (#36786282)

Maybe his English tests were great but he couldn't apply it.

Re:we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785606)

We need to teach good writing and communication before anything else.

Re:we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786164)

Are you unhappy about failing English, perhaps?

Re:we still need to get rid of tech the test maybe (1)

j33px0r (722130) | about 3 years ago | (#36786204)

We need hands on AND teaching to the test. If you do not test students, how do you know what they learned? If you do NOT teach to the test, what are you testing them on? Do you remember taking those tests where the teacher included items not covered in the text or in the lectures? There is a fine line separating the right way and a wrong way to teach to the test, a line I like to refer to as common sense.

Why did it take so long? (2)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | about 3 years ago | (#36785356)

Why did it take 100+ years for people to think "Hey, read up on something at home, and we'll talk about it and work through problems in class tomorrow"? Actually, that sounds a lot like many smaller university classes I had. Wondering why this is suddenly capturing everyone's imagination. It's pretty obvious, but then again, many ideas are obvious yet don't catch on.

Home study finally became stimulating (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36785384)

Why did it take 100+ years for people to think "Hey, read up on something at home, and we'll talk about it and work through problems in class tomorrow"?

Because it took 100+ years for home study to become stimulating enough to hold a child's interest, with audiovisual presentation of lecture material and automated drill and practice.

Re:Home study finally became stimulating (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#36785566)

Maybe it took the last ten years to do that, but it was only necessary because they'd spent the previous twenty forgetting how to read.

Re:Home study finally became stimulating (2)

St.Creed (853824) | about 3 years ago | (#36785982)

It took 100 years to develop automation to the point where you can do this without having a live person around for 8 hours a day or more. The keyword is "automated", not "stimulating", in my opinion.

Re:Why did it take so long? (1)

dcollins (135727) | about 3 years ago | (#36786362)

That's not a bad question. My impression is that this used to be the case (I always hear about suggestions for enforcing reading the text prior to class discussion), but discipline got to a point where no one could actually expect that to happen anywhere. Everyone's supposed to succeed and pass the class (no failures, no send-back in grade levels). So in-class time became remediation to the lowest common denominator.

A final observation: Much of my job is basic algebra remediation at the community college level. Open admissions, and it's the first time ever these students have confronted a fixed, hard requirement on skill level to pass. So basically I'm the brick wall at which all these secondary students are being thrown, crash-dummy style. And it's heart breaking. 70% failure rate nationwide for courses like this. (My students somewhat better than that.) Cycled through again and again, sometimes for years, unable to pass basic algebra. Piling up state/federal loans as they do so.

homework is a futile exercise anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785420)

this seems to be the nearest to what I have been advocating since I was in my pre-tweens regardign the issuing of homework. If you can do the work why do you need to do homework as it's just a waste of my time and if I can't do the work at home how the ruddy hell do they expect me to be able to do it at home so again i am just wasting my time on a futile exercise.

the old way of getting videos for teachers (1)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#36785550)

once upon a time i worked at an 'educational establishment' and somehow became involved with procuring an updated video for a teacher, to replace a series we had from the 1970s.

there was no process for doing this, it was all ad-hoc. i had to go to a bunch of websites and fill out a bunch of forms and then give them to a supervisor who then probably had to give them to another supervisor and another, and many weeks later the videos showed up... whereupon the teacher had to fill out a bunch of forms every time he wanted to borrow the videos to show in the classroom.

with Khan, he just says 'fuck you, educational bureaucracy' and tells the students to go on the web - what took dozens of hours of red tape now takes 30 seconds.

the only problem is how can Khan ever fund videos on really complicated stuff that requires a lot of money to produce? like say a high level biomedical video full of diagrams of cells and pathways and molecule interactions?

Re:the old way of getting videos for teachers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785696)

the only problem is how can Khan ever fund videos on really complicated stuff that requires a lot of money to produce? like say a high level biomedical video full of diagrams of cells and pathways and molecule interactions?

He currently draws everything.... Having looked around on the site and even did some translations to my native language, I expect him to do a whole lot of drawing until the concepts he need to explain become so complex that this is not an option.
Your example goes deep into the subject which is what high end specialized education does. I think he can make an other 4000 video's covering more basic stuff.

on the other hand ; there is a nice playlist in Biology http://www.khanacademy.org/#biology My knowledge about this is too small to know if it is anywhere near what you are talking about.

Re:the old way of getting videos for teachers (1)

phaggood (690955) | about 3 years ago | (#36785772)

> how can Khan ever fund videos...

Kickstarter.

The web is man's greatest invention.

So, they adopted the university approach (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about 3 years ago | (#36785570)

Seriously, in the science arena the idea of the labs is to learn what was taught in a large lecture hall. That is when most learning occurs. So it has always made sense to have a lecturer separate from those who help with the class. Ideally, Khan should be revising his lectures based on feedback from the teachers.

link? (4, Informative)

Strange Ranger (454494) | about 3 years ago | (#36785628)

How can Wired write an entire article, and slashdot write a summary, all about a website, and nobody includes the link to Kahn Academy [khanacademy.org] !?? Geesh

Re:link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785764)

Because Kahn is not a paid advertiser and drives no revenue. His site is just content they can siphon off of to get eyeballs on their sites.
Why would they want to send readers to Kahns site? Yes, I'm looking at you, /.

Re:link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786506)

How long exactly did it take you to find the link... 2, maybe 3 seconds? And how long did it take you to compose that ridiculous contribution to the discussion? Geesh indeed.

Education vs indoctrination (0)

rocket rancher (447670) | about 3 years ago | (#36785708)

Independent study has been around at least since the '60s, when I was in primary school. Khan Academy videos and the like supplement that experience, they don't change it. Unfortunately, independent study in primary/secondary education is not as widely available now as it was back then, probably because conservatives in the US don't want an educated electorate. They want an indoctrinated one, so they have been systematically reducing governmental support for higher education, where independent study is necessary, and legislatively dictating standards-based systems for primary and secondary education, which promote conformity over creativity.

Re:Education vs indoctrination (0)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 3 years ago | (#36786024)

I'm pretty much the leftist teacher unions are the primary ones blocking independent study.

But good on you for finding a way to blame the right. Next thing you know you'll blame drug companies for the war on drugs instead of lawyers, police officers, and prison guard union.

Uh, What About Research-Based Methods? (5, Interesting)

bgoffe (1501287) | about 3 years ago | (#36785754)

It is great to see this interest in learning, but too bad that methods that careful research have shown to increase learning haven't received the same publicity (my understanding is that research based on the Khan Academy has yet to come out). I have in mind: Improved Learning in a Large Enrollment Physics Class," [cwsei.ubc.ca] Deslauriers, Schelew, and Wieman, Science, May, 2011 (a postdoc and grad student, using research based methods, get 2 standard deviations more learning in a physics class than an experienced prof with high student evaluations who lectured). . Note that Wieman is a both a Nobel Laureate and a U.S. Professor of the Year (given for teaching). Another article is Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses, [mit.edu] which again shows a 2-standard deviation increase in learning by not lecturing.

There is even evidence that watching Khan videos leads to a false sense of learning. See Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos" [wordpress.com] It basically shows that while students think they're learning a lot by watching videos, their actual learning is minimal.

A great into to all this is Wieman's Why Not Try a Scientific Approach to Science Education?" [cwsei.ubc.ca] As he puts it, to increase learning, we need to use
  • Practices and conclusions based on objective data rather than—as is frequently the case in education—anecdote or tradition. This includes using the results of prior research, such as work on how people learn.
  • Disseminating results in a scholarly manner and copying and building upon what works. Too often in education, particularly at the postsecondary level, everything is reinvented, often in a highly flawed form, every time a different instructor teaches a course. (I call this problem “reinventing the square wheel.”)
  • Fully utilizing modern technology. Just as we are always looking for ways to use technology to advance scientific research, we need to do the same in education.

At best, Khan Academy only does the third of these.

Re:Uh, What About Research-Based Methods? (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | about 3 years ago | (#36786054)

Research-based methods don't lead to big profits for educational reform advocates (paid consulting gigs, speaking engagements), those who run private schools and publishers or scantily-researched educational materials. We've now got the educational equivalent of defense contractors selling weapons to the military that they don't want and that don't work.

Re:Uh, What About Research-Based Methods? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786574)

But I thought that was the point, kids really aren't learning that much with the lecture. The lecture just sets up the subject matter. They get the help when doing the problems, in class, with the teacher available for assistance. That is when the learning occurs.

I hope so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785790)

I have suffered so much through school because it wasn't my pace (too slow being the biggest problem, but not the only). I was full of energy as a child, fearless and adventurous and luckily my father patiently responded to a lot of my scientific curiously. The school system however has turned me off of conservative institutional learning for good. I've always been a good autodidact and pretty much all i know i looked up for myself. I have no particular desire to use Khan Academy, but i checked out some of the videos and i really enjoy the teaching style.

I still see so many sad, tired looking school kids (esp. boys) pass me by in the morning, and i see myself in them. Whether they're dreaded by the educational or the social aspect, i do not know, but it would fill me with tremendous joy to see the educational system change; to see capable minds thrive and less capable ones not be pushed through endless mental acrobatics worthless to their lives. On the latter point: I think teenagers should have a chance to be integrated into the working world early on, as it used to be. In my eyes school is not a healthy place for them to build character and productive social behavior, it's a zoo in many cases.

Instruction after introduction... (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 3 years ago | (#36785838)

I had a math teacher who would assign you problems before she had explained how to do 'em in class.

That way, you'd read the book, try to do the problems, and then the next day, be pepared to ask questions on the stuff you were having difficulties with when she actually taught the lessons. She'd then give you another night to fix whatever you needed to on the homework before turning it in.

I found it so much better than just listening to a teacher droning on for an hour or more, then having to go and read the book to figure out what they should've been explaining.

CUM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36785902)

~280MB MPEG off of OF AMERICA) today, may be hurting the reforma7tted

Khan Academy iPad app (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786056)

I was glad to see that they are making a stand alone app to use with that Khan Academy. I bought iPads for my Girl Friends kids and I'd like to see them used for more than just games.

not the acid test (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786286)

Only white and oriental kids in TFA.
Arguably the two groups that uptake instructions fastest.
How this goes down with blacks, hispanics, ... is the real test.

Re:not the acid test (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#36786360)

"How this goes down with blacks, hispanics, ... is the real test."

No. It works for those it works for. For those it may not work for, try something different.

Never Lecture in Class Again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786420)

This is very, very similar to what happened at Woodland Park High School in Colorado: http://www.webertube.com/video/242/never-lecture-in-class-again

Very nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786502)

KHAAAAAAN!

Wired? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36786564)

The same magazine that tricked Bradley Manning? Why on earth is ANYONE uprating an article from such a sham magazine?

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