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Grant To Allow Khan Academy To Expand, Build a Physical School

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the deserves-an-early-nobel dept.

Education 92

mayberry42 writes with this news snipped from Hack 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."

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Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37964996)

I'm not as impressed by khan as some people are. What it does best is get your feet in the water on a subject or topic that you've been avoiding out of dread or intimidation. Sal's easygoing manner also helps in this regard. But since the experience is passive, you don't remember much of what you "learned" a couple weeks down the road. It doesn't replace a good textbook or a good work ethic.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (2)

Filip22012005 (852281) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965038)

I agree. I played all Khan lessons in my bedroom hoping that, as I slept, I'd have a grasp of all topics. I was not impressed at all. You have to pay attention, and even try to apply it if you really want to learn anything.

F. Would not try again.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965056)

It's more than that, the more connections you have between facts the more likely they are to be retained. A good class will involve more than just one modality of involvement by the students, and online classes of any sort really haven't managed to master that yet. Khan probably being even worse as there's no possibility of meeting off line and the tests being somewhat less vigorous than normal.

I'm sure folks do learn from it, I just doubt very much that it's going to advance education much more than the encyclopedia did.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (4, Insightful)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965110)

And the more a person (any person) actually uses what they learn, the greater their likelihood of retention. I took trigonometry last spring and now I'm taking pre-calc. I had to go back and review everything I had learned in trig (including re-memorizing those damned identities) because I had forgotten about half of it. Why? Because not once during the summer did I actually use anything I learned in the class. Algebra, on the other hand, is a different story. The concepts that are used repeatedly, ever semester, are the ones I remember without having to look up my notes

In my opinion, when it comes to math, it's not so important that I retain every single concept I learn, but rather, when such a problem arises later on, I recognize the problem and I have a general idea of how to solve it. If I have to look up a few formulas along the way, so be it.

As for the Khan Academy, the website has saved my ass a few times. It's one of the first places I turn when I'm struggling with something in my homework. It never has been a replacement for classroom attendance, but rather a really good supplement.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965306)

Indeed, as a supplement, I think the Khan Academy is really useful. The way it's laid out really supports its use as a supplemental resource. But, it's not set up in a way that's going to replace anybody's classroom. Taking a quick look at the algebra section, there's a few lessons, but there isn't any obvious ordering to it, aside from not doing the part 2 lessons before the part 1 ones.

I would personally have to spend a substantial amount of time going through the lessons to decide the order and combination if I was going to use the materials exclusively to teach with. If I just need a lesson or two, it's not really that difficult, but the whole set up is not one that's going to be useful for somebody that doesn't know anything about how to create lesson plans.

As far as retention goes, if you don't use it within about the first 20 minutes or so of encountering it, the likelihood of retaining the knowledge significantly drops for most people.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965516)

I think you're supposed to create an account then watch the videos and do the exercises, "level up" etc.

The lessons change color as you qualify. (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965952)

Grey means you haven't done the prerequisites. Green means that you have done the prerequisites. Blue means that you have mastered the lesson.

None of this works unless you get an account of course.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (2)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37966016)

Absolutely correct.

I used khan academy some time ago to freshen up my calculus and it worked pretty well. I don't think though that the result would be the same hadn't I taken the amount of notes I did, hadn't done the work after the videos or were walking into calculus withou having a clue about it.

Still it is a good step in the right direction. To make it really work they still need to keep a tight leash on observers and kind of force users to do exercises/homework otherwise the knowledge will dribble out of their ears! (that's a fact)

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

ittybad (896498) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965612)

On the note of forgetting about half of what you had learned, it reminds me of a pedagogy that I am a fan of: learn the underlying concepts and how to apply them, and you no longer have to "remember" because you "know." With your example, I cannot rattle off hardly any of the trig identities -- but I can derive all of them quite easily.

I think that this is a major issue with our education system when it comes to math: memorization. For example, in my daughter's math class, when going over exponent laws, the teacher said, "anything to the 0 power is 1. Why? Because that is the way it is; it is just one of those things we need to memorize." The same kids who learn this way find themselves in a math class a few years later and cant remember if it is 3^1 = 0 or 3^0 = 1. I wrote him showing how bloody easy it is to learn the correct way -- by looking at what exponents are (repeated multiplication) and that if we work backwards from 3^4, to 3^3, 3^2, we see that we are dividing by three each time, so it is easy to see why 3^0 has to be one. Better yet, this lets students understand why negative exponents are what they are. With this proper understanding, the student can re-derive the exponent laws anytime they may need them.

I completely agree with you that Khan is not a replacement. There is something to be said for us social beings being, you know, social when learning.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37967000)

Not everyone is a "social being" and not everyone will learn well in a classroom.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37970724)

anything to the 0 power is 1. Why? Because that is the way it is; it is just one of those things we need to memorize.

Bad example.

x^0=1 for all x in R

is taken as an axiom. There is no reason behind it for the teacher to explain other than if we don't assume it to be true the consequences are mathematically horrifying. You can have an algebraic system were x^0 != 1, but it will be internally inconsistent. Since we like our math to be internally consistent (albeit incomplete, see Godel's incompleteness theorem), we go with x^0=1.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

Nivag064 (904744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033190)

Bad example.

x^0=1 for all x in R

is taken as an axiom.

also z^0=1 is true for all z in C (Complex numbers)

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37972016)

On the note of forgetting about half of what you had learned, it reminds me of a pedagogy that I am a fan of: learn the underlying concepts and how to apply them, and you no longer have to "remember" because you "know." With your example, I cannot rattle off hardly any of the trig identities -- but I can derive all of them quite easily.

I think that this is a major issue with our education system when it comes to math: memorization. For example, in my daughter's math class, when going over exponent laws, the teacher said, "anything to the 0 power is 1. Why? Because that is the way it is; it is just one of those things we need to memorize." The same kids who learn this way find themselves in a math class a few years later and cant remember if it is 3^1 = 0 or 3^0 = 1. I wrote him showing how bloody easy it is to learn the correct way -- by looking at what exponents are (repeated multiplication) and that if we work backwards from 3^4, to 3^3, 3^2, we see that we are dividing by three each time, so it is easy to see why 3^0 has to be one. Better yet, this lets students understand why negative exponents are what they are. With this proper understanding, the student can re-derive the exponent laws anytime they may need them.

I completely agree with you that Khan is not a replacement. There is something to be said for us social beings being, you know, social when learning.

Some things are just easier if you memorize them though, times tables being the most obvious. It is extremely useful to know instantaneously that 9*7 is 63, rather than having to do the 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42. 49. 56, 63 thing in your head like they teach kids nowadays.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

Nivag064 (904744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38033236)

Some things are just easier if you memorize them though, times tables being the most obvious. It is extremely useful to know instantaneously that 9*7 is 63, rather than having to do the 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42. 49. 56, 63 thing in your head like they teach kids nowadays.

Hmm... I simply did 3 * 7 is 21 and 3 times 21 is 63 - I did that as fast as anyone could do it by rote. Once I could see a pattern, I did not spend too much time rote learning. When others recited 1 * 4 is 4, 2 * 4 is 8 etc., i would simply add 4 to the last answer. I think I got a better idea of the number patterns than those who purely rote learnt.

Later I found I could not do subtractions like 13 - 5, until I developed my own conceptual way of handling it (a hybrid of visual and abstract thinking) - 'borrowing and paying back' is pure nonsense!

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37967118)

And the more a person (any person) actually uses what they learn, the greater their likelihood of retention.

Retention through repetition? You want this gem:
http://ankisrs.net/ [ankisrs.net]

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965060)

It doesn't replace a good textbook

I've never read a decent textbook that didn't require a teacher to actually teach the material. I think they're all written that way on purpose.

Re:Khan Academy = math/science for dummies (1)

ZFox (860519) | more than 2 years ago | (#37977150)

I've never read a decent textbook that didn't require a teacher to actually teach the material

The trick is to also have the instructor's edition.

It's better to know some than none. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965140)

I wish that average Americans would consider this sort of learning more seriously. While it isn't a full university degree by any means, at least it should help bring them up to the level that the rest of the world is at, in terms of education and knowledge.

Although I'm European, I do have to deal with typical Americans far more often than I'd like through my work. Virtually all of the Americans I deal with are working for large businesses, so perhaps they're even above average to some extent. However, in terms of knowledge, education and basic reasoning abilities, they are far below the comparable people I deal with in Europe and Asia.

Let me give you some examples. On at least eight occasions now I've had to deal with Americans who couldn't perform basic arithmetic. In these cases, they contacted us, complaining that we overbilled them. We take these complaints seriously, so we double-checked the accounting and everything added up according to our numbers. We asked the Americans for theirs, and they provided us with the same numbers we had. We double-checked their arithmetic, and they had made some errors with basic addition! Although we do far more business with European and Asian customers, we have never once had to field a similar complain from them.

I occasionally have to deal with these Americans by email. You wouldn't believe how atrocious their grasp of English is, including many who are native English speakers! Some of them, including high-level managers and executives, do not know about capitalization or punctuation. If it weren't for most email clients today having built-in spellchecking, I suspect that these emails would be rife with typos, too. I have never seen this when emailing European or Asian customers in English, however. Even the lowest-level employees there often have impeccable written English skills. It has gotten to the point that I can reliably tell where a customer is located based on the body of the email alone, considering only whether or not capitalization and punctuation are used.

I don't dislike these Americans, but it's clear that they are below the rest of the world when it comes to education. I wish that they would better consider opportunities like this. Even if they don't attain the level of education and knowledge that the rest of the world has, any elevation whatsoever would be beneficial for all of us.

Re:It's better to know some than none. (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965352)

Do american schools hold you back a year even in 5th or 6th class? Cause Indian schools sure do esp. if you fail (esp. in Science/maths) twice (normal and then makeup exam)

Re:It's better to know some than none. (2)

codeAlDente (1643257) | more than 2 years ago | (#37974648)

Not that I've ever seen. When I was in school, it was common knowledge that you wouldn't be held back, no matter how little you did, because it really wouldn't do any good for the school. Especially if you were a troublemaker, they didn't want to see you again. In addition, the students in a class would often band together and refuse to do any work, especially for a weak or lazy teacher, because they knew the teacher could/would not fail the majority of the class. Depending on the school, there is some combination of learning and babysitting. Mine was largely babysitting, and I wouldn't be surprised if the people who couldn't read in high school now work for large corporations and send lousy emails.

Re:It's better to know some than none. (2)

rrkelleycsprof (2124982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965694)

I am American; I agree that the writing skills of many Americans are sub-par. At the same time I have noticed many Americans with whom I have frequent e-mail contact don't consider e-mail as formal writing. Instead many seem to view it as an extension of a conversation in which grammar and punctuation are less important. I am not defending that idea, simply bringing it up. Also, I am surprised you have not witnessed a similar issue with Asians or others whose primary language is not English. I work with people from many different countries whose primary language is not English; in almost all e-mail communication I receive there are numerous grammar, capitalization, and punctuation errors. However, it doesn't bother me because I am quite certain in all cases the writer's English is much better than my Mandarin, Hindi, German, Dutch, well, you get the idea! :-) Generally if I can make sense of what the person is trying to communicate I am happy.

You need to sign up. (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965918)

There are plenty of quizzes, a directed graph to help you pick the next topic, great hinting when you get stuck, silly awards for different types of progress, the ability to create student-teacher account associations ("coach" feature), etc.

Of course, lesson one is that you need to lie about your birthdate if you are under 13. This is because nobody under 13 is allowed to use the Internet, including Khan Academy. Unfortunately you need subtraction to do this, but I'll help you just this once: say you were born in 1969.

And all... (5, Funny)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37964998)

And all the for-profit schools raise their fists in the air and scream: "KKHAAANNNN!!!"

Re:And all... (1, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965008)

That presupposes that the Khan Academy is an acceptable replacement for a traditional school, which it isn't.

Re:And all... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965128)

It still kicks the crap out of anything you have ever achieved.

Re:And all... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965194)

Yet. With a $5 million grant, I imagine they'll be quite a bit closer.

Re:And all... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965248)

It's $5m in grant money, that's really not that much, even for a small school. It might last them a couple years, but even that's doubtful, it costs a lot of money to start a school and I doubt that will hold them over for a year or two.

Re:And all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37968190)

"It's $5m in grant money, that's really not that much, even for a small school."

It's hardly enough for the weapons detector and security.

Re:And all... (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37968448)

That's 431 million Pakistani rupees. It's going to go a very long way.

Re:And all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965472)

In its current form, no; however, given the state of our current education system I think experiments like this are crucial. Traditional school pretty much sucks (and has for quite some time). This especially applies to the "No child allowed ahead" programs. My children are bored to tears in the advanced / gifted classes at their schools. They depend on in-home tutoring and Khan Academy just to keep progressing in their education.

Re:And all... (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965584)

That implies that we don't know how to teach most students, which really does requires some evidence to support. I've yet to see a set of tests that are used for that purpose that have any real world validity. Shanghai just beat out every other set of students in the world, they did it by doing homework 7 days a week and being in school 12 hours on weekdays. Yes, they outscored everybody else, but it isn't just a matter of the raw scores, there's opportunity costs that come from spending that much time in class and there's no compelling reason to believe that the success on that test will carry over into other areas of life. Students spend significantly less time learning than they did when I was a kid, and we spent significantly less time than my parents did. It's not that we did any less work, it's that we're more focused on learning how to take tests than they used to be.

As for the students, the schools have always been way too easy for the brightest students and that problem goes back at least 400 years and probably even further. If that weren't the case you wouldn't see folks like Hobbes going to college so early, even now it's not unusual for students to start college at 15 around here. When the normal age of entrance is 18 minimum.

More than that, there are better solutions, the boredom could be alleviated by spending more money on visual aids and developing engaging curriculum. I was bored out of my skull in classes as well, but it wasn't just a matter of the lack of difficulty, it was the lack of diversity in lesson planning. Going to class day in and day out and listening to lectures just isn't something that's particularly effective.

Re:And all... (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965616)

A traditional education has benefits that online for-profit schools (or Khan Academy) really have trouble matching. Among them:

Networking with fellow students to develop relationships that will help them find a job.

Learning how to work, in person, in a group on a project.

Learning how to conduct real experiments with your own hands.

Tenured faculty that can be a lifetime resource.

Places to gather in-person socially (chances to meet friends, lovers, husbands/wives, etc).

The list goes on but these are some of the highlights. The main point is that people are social animals. you can't just lop off the social aspect of education as if it doesn't matter. Yes, learning is extremely important so to the extent that online for-profit schools and KA can do that then they are useful. But we should not underestimate the socialization that occurs during the collage years. In fact, we should be stressing that even more. Particularly helpful would be integrating international mock business and social interactions that mirror the needs of globalizing nations.

Re:And all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965646)

Tenured faculty that can be a lifetime resource.

Exactly! Where are you going to get a letter of recommendation from if you have never seen your professors face to face?

Re:And all... (1)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37967144)

Those are all valid points, the big trick is, though, that KA isn't meant to replace traditional education, it's meant to supplement it, and, where necessary, provide SOME education where there are no schools, or where the schools (Like here in Honduras), are wholly inadequate. (Or at least, that's how I see it).

Re:And all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37968396)

Please read about how Khan Academy thinks their lectures should be used in a school environment. Their core idea is "turning the classroom upside down" which means having the lectures be watched as homework maybe along with a few simple example problems, but mostly doing exercises and more advanced projects in the classroom, so students can ask each other for help and work at their own pace. In other words, a more social environment than the traditional model.

A good place is start is the blog of the Los Altos school district pilot [edublogs.org] .

Re:And all... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965786)

True. Khan Academy is way more effective than traditional school.

To be fair, Khan Academy doesn't teach kids how to do tons of busy work on subjects they are proficient in while they wait for slower kids to catch up, and it doesn't teach kids how to fake knowing a subject because they are slower than the rest of the group and the group is moving forward whether they get it or not. So there is that aspect of it that Khan Academy isn't a replacement for traditional school. Oh, and the fact that parents can't just drop their kids off for it and go to work.

Re:And all... (1)

Hidyman (225308) | more than 2 years ago | (#37966436)

You obviously haven't been in a traditional school lately.

Re:And all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37966626)

Because traditional education works so well.

Re:And all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37968810)

That presupposes that the Khan Academy is an acceptable replacement for a traditional school, which it isn't.

That presupposes the "traditional school" is acceptable in the first place.

Re:And all... (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965200)

I'm very disappointed that this wasn't the first post, but am pleased to see it here nonetheless ;)

brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (5, Insightful)

bloody_liberal (1002785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965046)

Can someone figure out why they need to actually build their own place? I just don't see how it fits with their strengths...

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965066)

Perhaps to continue to develop and test subject matter and methodologies?

A few guesses ... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965258)

A few posible reasons:

  1. To test the online lessons, and see how kids react to them. (which likely wouldn't need a full 'school')
  2. To develop and test modules of instruction for other teachers to combine the online learning Khan provides with classroom activities.
  3. To train teachers; possibly with the teachers as the students, but with what's being described, more likely as a hands-on test of their interaction with students.
  4. To watch effective teachers, and see what sort of lessons and recomendations they can come up with for other classroom teachers.

That last might be done better in the teacher's own classroom; at least as an initial survey, and then see how they change to deal with a more normalized environment.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (3, Interesting)

denpun (1607487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965260)

I think money for buildings should be spent on creating more content.

KA's biggest strength is that it is online, ie, easily accessible, content easily creatable, no barriers to entry accept internet. Videos should be downloadable....and this will solve that issue.

I don't mind his teaching methods but some of his language may be too advanced for for younger kids....so money should be spent on creating more suitable content for a wider range of topics. Not just for the reason I mentioned but there is only so much he can do....and he has surely done a lot......

Open it up for anyone to be able to create...pay people not to create but to moderate other creations....this way...you allow anyone to use the skills to create and moderators can make sure it is appropriate and passes QA.

Schools should use KA and integrate it into their curriculum instead of KA starting their own school
Summers camps can he held anywhere using KA.

I agree with the other expenses, ie CMS, etc since making content creation and management easy is a big deal and will allow for other content creators to upload and mange content properly. I would go with integrating an elearning system with it for all the courses. They already have something for some but not all courses.
Teachers form anywhere should be able to integrate with the elearning system and keep track of students activities, thsi way you are empowering many teachers as opposed to only KA teachers/students.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (5, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965636)

I would disagree. His language is great for younger kids. One of the reasons KA is so successful and kids like him is that he doesn't talk down to them.

I would also hate to see KA opened up to the general public for content. Our education system is a self feeding monster that would likely get it's fingers involved and break KA. Better would be for Kahn to hand pick some individuals to help create new content.

I do agree that one of KA's big strengths is that it is online and is largely barrier free. A brick an mortar school is more likely to drag KA down to the level of other schools than it is to raise up KA to a new level.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37966700)

A brick an mortar school is more likely to drag KA down to the level of other schools than it is to raise up KA to a new level.

Agreed. At first I thought, "if they want to build a building it should be a center for housing content producers." Then I realized - if they can't have their content producers working effective remotely, then they're missing what needs to be done for their core audience.

Even if it were decided that Khan and any instructors he employs each need five support staff members, those should all be remote too. They should work to make that as efficient as possible, and in doing so improve the long-term quality of their product.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37969644)

Perhaps he could figure a way to work in conjunction with CK12.org in regards to textbooks and flushing out a curriculum?

It would be interesting to see if Khan's teaching methods integrate well with some in-depth teaching materials that are available at very little or no cost. In such case, that $5 million could stretch pretty far. Instead of too much overhead on educational materials provided by traditional publishers, the majority of the money could be spent on staff and facilities.

Might also be an interesting model for boot-strapping a school where budgets are tight and possibly where there hasn't been much in the way of schools before.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (1)

Finite9 (757961) | more than 2 years ago | (#37983036)

"One of the reasons KA is so successful and kids like him is that he doesn't talk down to them"

KA is a great leap forward in education, and one of it's greatest strenghts is Salman Khans ability, as you rightly identify, to create a good connection with his audience; to not talk down to them, and to explain base concepts that other teachers would assume were a given. KA needs to be acutely aware that this is one of it's core strengths, and to find other teachers who also possess this admirable quality.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (1)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37967102)

1) Although it is kind of a pain in the ass to get working, the videos are downloadable (and also the exercise framework), are downloadable, though admittedly, at the moment, I've only managed to get it working on my windows laptop as a server, rather than the linux server I want it running on.

2) The biggest barrier to entry is actually having a computer and the electricity to power it.

3) As TFA says, the school they're building is at least partially designed to get a feel for how schools SHOULD integrate KA, do some research on how it works in a wider variety of use-cases, and, as a side note, I would guess that this school is going to be built somewhere that isn't currently served by a traditional school system...though that could be wholly imaginary on my part.

The beauty of this is (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 2 years ago | (#37967454)

one could just do meta-Kahn academy.

Wrap each lesson up into a primer, where that "advanced language" is broken down to basic terms. Core material can then be leveraged in multiple ways where people who do see it differently, or who can expand on what is there are free to do so.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965552)

Maybe Khan's interests are leading him in that direction. Maybe he wants to develop new teaching methods; I have heard him say he thinks calculus and physics should be a single course. Who are we to judge what Khan sees as his strengths?

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965712)

Better as coordinated, but separate classes - calculus is the natural language of physics and physics is a natural realm in which to apply calculus (economics and parts of biology are others). That said, a calculus-physics hybrid is likely to be lacking in rigor when it comes to e.g. limit definition of derivatives and delta-epsilon limits.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37966194)

No one even talks about delta-epsilon until they are taking analysis level (post-calculus) math courses. At best there is a hand waving explanation of "the neighborhood of numbers." This is not a good reason why science and math cannot be taught by the same teacher in the same class.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37969090)

I have heard him say he thinks calculus and physics should be a single course.

Maybe it depends on what level he is talking about, but I took Double Maths and Physics for my A-Levels, and I don't remember much (if any calculus in the physics I learnt), there was overlap with my maths and physics, but it was with the Mechanics modules I took in my maths classes.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965856)

Well, you see, any institution of learning needs a number of things in order to meet the needs of students more effectively, such as a place for them to work with access to library facilities and computers to view the lectures in case students can't afford the hardware or software themselves. Having face-to-face interaction with their lecturers would be useful. Plus they'll need some kind of organization to maintain those physical places and equipment, everything from janitors to IT. To attract the best lecturers they may need to offer perks such as lab spaces for both teaching (some learning will always be done best hands-on) and for research (many lecturers are interested in more than teaching alone). Plus you'll need a number of people to manage and administrate the staff and the facilities, manage the money, and make sure everyone gets paid on time. By the end of it you might have quite an accumulation of buildings and staff, but overall the educational experience offered to the student in such a facility would probably be better than if they ...

wait a second.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37967654)

Can someone figure out why they need to actually build their own place? I just don't see how it fits with their strengths...

I think that's just it. It expands their strengths.

Re:brick-and-mortar seems counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37968950)

Watch Kahn's 'TED Talk'. In it, he mentions partnering with a few classes in california (Los gatos? It's been a while since I watched it). The students would spend their 'homework' time watching Kahn lectures, then work problems and get focussed direct instruction from other students and the teacher during classroom time. It literally turned the learning methodology on it's head: homework when the teacher was available, lectures at their own pace and with a degree of privacy (whose value was also discussed).

The tools to do this (software that tracked student efforts on questions/problem sets) could benefit from direct application in a classroom, feedback etc. Further, if the idea works, it's easier to get other schools to embrace a curriculum proven at a given school. This is the method used to spread charter schools: a school starts, it proves itself, someone tries to capture the pedagogy (is that the right word-- lessons and mission and methodologies) and push it to other schools, lather rinse repeat.

Personally, I don't know why we keep thinking that education should be anything like we do it. My experience with TLC (Great Lectures) and my own educational experience, vs. what edutainment and entertainment media giants like Disney, has me pretty convinced that a curriculum should be honed and distributed with the same brutal precision and world-conquering aim as a good Pixar animated feature: polish until it'll server most of the world, then release, then convert teachers to the above-described personal-variance-monitor/tutors. It's every bit as tough a job, and they can focus on retail education, rather than presuming they can engage a classroom (or a huge audience) as well as a million bucks worth of effort by the world's best content creators.

(Anon for SO *MANY* REASONS...)

First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Work (5, Informative)

bgoffe (1501287) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965238)

At least in physics there is a HUGE body of evidence that telling is basically not teaching, be it lectures or videos. That is, one must confront student misconceptions and more generally understand how people learn. We don't learn deeply by watching. Seriously, what elite athlete learned by watching and listening?

Try out these links:

"Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos" https://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/khan-academy-and-the-effectiveness-of-science-videos/ [wordpress.com]

"Improved Learning in a Large Enrollment Physics Class" http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/SEI_research/index.html [cwsei.ubc.ca]

"Why Not Try a Scientific Approach to Science Education?" http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/resources/files/Wieman-Change_Sept-Oct_2007.pdf [cwsei.ubc.ca] (the author is both a Nobel Laureate and a U.S. University Professor of the Year; he's currently Deputy Science Adviser to the President for science education)

It is a sad commentary that methods that have rigorously been shown to work, like http://modeling.asu.edu/ [asu.edu] , could really use more funding when Khan gets such funding on just the publicity.

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (2)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965324)

The ASU page you linked lists 10s of millions of dollars of NSF grants. I think it is ago if a private individual wants to grant money to a school to do the same thing.

Your post indicates you did not even bother to read the slash dot summary. If you had, you would realize this grant is about doing, not telling. It has nothing at all to do with lecture videos.

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965748)

The core of the Khan Academy's approach is that students learn by watching videos (i.e. the teaching telling) and this funding will expand that approach. In the article, it states, "And that means you just need a handful of good lecturers’ record their lessons; the Internet will take care of the rest."

As in https://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/khan-academy-and-the-effectiveness-of-science-videos/ and in my other links this approach doesn't work very well if what you care about is deep learning. Sure -- student can plug numbers into the correct formula, but do they really understand? Other approach do lead to a deeper understanding. It is unfortunate that Khan hasn't looked at the relevant pedagogical research that deals with these issues.

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37973392)

Read this from Khan's website and you'll realize how strong your own misconceptions about them are: http://www.khanacademy.org/about/blog/post/6844033473/bringing-creativity-to-class-time-by-sal-khan

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965332)

> Seriously, what elite athlete learned by watching and listening?

lol... What did a athlete learn by running or swimming? :D

nah man... you're too late.. khan has earned his money because he is awesome

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965350)

That's broadly true of most areas of education. For instance, language classes need to hit four domains with most lessons to be most effective. That is to say reading, writing, listening and speaking, the problem being that a site like the Khan Acadamy isn't going to be well suited to the writing and speaking components, and be very heavy on the reading and listening components. One can still learn like that, but it's a much slower process.

To an extent that applies to other subjects as well, you'd be surprised how much you can learn doing problems, even if you've done one or two like it before, the results add up over time, but if you don't have somebody to check your work or show you how to do it, you're going to take a lot longer to learn it, assuming you do in the first place.

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965876)

Well, no. What the physicists have found is that even if students can plug values into an equation, they don't really understand. Here's an anecdote that illustrates the issue. Eric Mazur teaches physics at Harvard; most of his student have a 5 on the AP physics exam. Some years back he heard about a key assessment used in physics, the "Force Concept Inventory." Instead of having students do calculations, it asks conceptual questions, like what happens if a car and truck collide. Physicists finds the questions shockingly easy. Thinking that he lectured well and that he had good students (who has better ones?), Mazur gave the FCI. A minute or two after passing it out, a student asked, "How should I answer these question -- they way you taught me or the way I think about these things?" In short, she didn't deeply understand the material. It turned out she had a lot of company. Mazur then began to search for better teaching methods than telling (i.e. lecturing). See Mazur's article in Sciencehttp://mazur.harvard.edu/publications.php?function=display&rowid=635 , and if you have the time, this video, "Confessions of a Converted Lecturer," http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwslBPj8GgI . Finally, this short video shows how he teaches today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBYrKPoVFwg

In short, telling (videos, lectures, whatever) isn't really teaching. Good teaching takes into account knowledge that student bring to the classroom and more broadly how we learn. Most teaching (I'm a professional educator -- a college professor) doesn't do this. Check out "How People Learn," from the National Academies Press, http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37967212)

Sure, for idiots whose opinions don't matter, telling isn't teaching. For people who care, telling is teaching.

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37969556)

This video and scores does not include the feedback loop of the course exercises. The feedback of the coursework is where the pre-conceptions are corrected. Reviewing a vid can be a moment of discovery when you find a preconception is false.

I am taking some lessons. I am learning. Additional videos from other sources are great reinforcement of learned concepts. I recommend the Physics for Future Presidents.
http://physics.berkeley.edu/academics/Courses/physics10/teaching/Physics10/PffP.html [berkeley.edu]

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (2)

bgoffe (1501287) | more than 2 years ago | (#37970504)

Projects like Modeling, http://modeling.asu.edu/ [asu.edu] , are designed to ferret out misconceptions. They're typically deeply entrenched and you really have to address them head-on in really thoughtful ways. When you do, deep learning may then occur. Watching videos, not designed to ferret our misconceptions, isn't nearly as likely to do this.

This is totally anecdotal, but I've heard of reports of modeling instructors getting pressured to use Khan's videos. The former has sound pedagogy and tons of research behind it demonstrating improved student understanding and the latter has neither. Sigh.

To really assess you learning (if you're doing Newtonian Mechanics), see if your instructors will give you the "Force Concept Inventory." It's a standard in physics education research. For more on it, see http://modeling.asu.edu/r%26e/fci.pdf [asu.edu] . As they put it, "(1) commonsense beliefs about motion and force are incompatible with Newtonian concepts in most respects, (2) conventional physics instruction produces little change in these beliefs, and (3) this result is independent of the instructor and the mode of instruction." At last count, Google Scholar reports 1,400 citations to this paper. It's that important. With Khan's videos as taped lectures, this research implies that they don't produce much deep learning.

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37969636)

If Khan's videos were as bad as the ones in the wordpress link, I would agree with the skepticism. But Khan's videos are really good (at least the Math ones I've watched).

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (1)

PhloppyPhallus (250291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973700)

I don't think the strength of Khan academy (or any other video-based educational programs) is as a replacement for more traditional education, but rather as a supplement. Khan gives students additional instruction about whatever their interested when they need it. For instance, a student struggling to understand the concept of limits whilst completing a pre-Calculus assignment at 8 pm is not able to get further explanation from their primary instructor at that moment. They can, however, go to the Khan academy lecture on the topic right then, and have the concept explained to them at the moment they need it and immediately put what they've learned into practice on their assigned work. Khan provides immediacy and an alternative viewpoint; it's just like looking the concept up in a textbook, but perhaps easier for many students to follow. So, I agree that it's no replacement for other teaching methods; but it is a great resource which can be made accessible to all English speaking children for a very low cost. Seems worthwhile to me as a supplement to other methods.

Re:First: Fund Methods That Have Evidence They Wor (1)

thephydes (727739) | more than 2 years ago | (#37975002)

I refer my students to KA - not as a teaching tool but as a review tool. The advantage of their delivery method is that a student can rewind and have another look, something that is often not possible in the classroom. The advantage that my students have in my class is that I can see what they are doing, pinpoint where they are struggling and try to find another way of explaining it. So, I believe that KA and conventional teaching can complement each other.

It has to be said: (0)

macs4all (973270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965428)

Khaaaaaan!!!!! Khaaaaaaaaaaan!!! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!

New Paradigm (1)

ittybad (896498) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965510)

The system that I envision, at least as far as math is concerned, is something that I dub "modular math" -- though, that term should not be confused with modulus. I think the curriculum should be broken up from arithmetic to calculus in models (sets, pods, mods, levels, whatever).

A student meats the material at their level, and progresses through each model. This allows a student to quickly move through material that is easier for them and to have the time required for material that is more difficult. I imagine a system whereby students participate in a math curriculum whereby they progress on their own through CORRECT (yet to be defined) use of online lectures and quizzes and tests.

A teacher is ever present and provides the one on one work that the student requires when they hit a topic that they have trouble with, or need further or alternate explanation. The puts the teacher as a facilitator that needs to be familiar with all levels of math from basic arithmetic through calculus -- and by familiar, I mean able to actually teach the concepts. A teacher may have a student in model 4 and model 10 in the same room, and when each student has an issue, the teacher would need to be able to step in at that topic and work with the student.

I have begun development of the requisite online tools for this, but Khan has, by far, a lead on videos and lectures -- and even presence. I thought of this way before Khan was popular enough for me to have heard of him, but, with most things, it comes down to who implements it first. I think that it could be an exciting next step for the Khan Academy.

Re:New Paradigm (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965866)

Already there: sign of for Khan Academy, and you get a chart of topics ordered (as a directed graph) by prerequisite. Each topic provides a quiz to let you know if you are ready to move on, plus links to several videos in case you need help, and a wonderful hint system that shows you step-by-step how to do the problems.

Re:New Paradigm (1)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37967024)

I run a center in Honduras, which, among other things, uses the Khan academy system to teach/tutor math to children aged 8-17, and that's basically exactly how I run it.

I actually wind up doing very little instruction. I spend most of my time motivating the children, making them actually watch the videos instead of talking to their friends, etc. The other major thing I do is just break down the problems for the children when they get daunted...when they see 739421-5478, they tend to lock up, so I will break it down by asking, "Okay, what's 1-8...yes, that's right, you have to borrow from the 2..." etc. One of the most gratifying things I've seen is the children actually teaching each other.

I've only been doing this for about 2.5 months now, and most of that time has been spent getting them used to the system, I'm really only now getting underway in a significant manner, but I can tell you that it is working, and rather better than the "schools" around here do. (That's an entirely different rant.)

Progress For Humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965518)

This is great news. Khan already has a superb employee, John Resig of jQuery fame, who can organize these funds and help develop spectacular learning environments. Traditional colleges and universities should study this organization closely and take notes before they are obsoleted.

LOL WUT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965526)

Step 1: Accidentally discover that videos with a particular instruction style help lots of people learn outside of physical schools.
Step 2: Build a physical school
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit!

The problem with Mathematics... (2)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965654)

Is not that kids are stupid, it is in the presentation.

Math as it is presented in most all schools is one of the driest subjects on the planet.

Yes there are kids who just get it but they are not the majority in point of fact they are a tiny minority.

I remember sitting through basic algebra and it was mind numbing ( this was in the early 70's ) and nothing was related to the real world, just the rules of algebra for weeks on end.

Even today with a 10 year old I am having to go back and re-learn math skills that have long since faded to someplace in the back of my brain so I can help my own kid with his homework. The Kahn Academy has been the best refresher course I have ever found.

Re:The problem with Mathematics... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37965710)

Another difference is that back then you were 15. Now you're in the your fifties, your hormones are no longer firing like crazy (I'm assuming you don't work for ESPN) and you've picked up a few things about how to learn from presentations and lectures.

Back when I was 15, I couldn't believe how dull the writings of Emerson were. Not any more.

Re:The problem with Mathematics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37967974)

Really? Back when I was 15, I couldn't believe how boring and dull it all was. I still can't believe it.

Not everyone's likes or dislikes change with age (at least, not all of them).

Bricks and mortar school (2)

Barryke (772876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37965676)

I've always preffered bricks and mortar (and concrete) over wooden buildings.

Re:Bricks and mortar school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37966970)

You must not live around San Francisco, where bricks have a nasty habit of breaking loose during quakes

Re:Bricks and mortar school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37970680)

I prefer wooden buildings or, even better, those made from straw.
 
// The wolf

Concrete? No thanks. (1)

qwerty765 (2438276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37971340)

I prefer wooden buildings over concrete buildings because concrete buildings produce echoes too many times. try it in a concrete building.

Re:Bricks and mortar school (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37973296)

i prefer buildings that are not made of fuel.

Practice tests (1)

PsychoElf (571371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37966124)

I watched some videos and took some practice tests and my mind immediately started thinking: "He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I'll chase him round the Moons of Nibia, and round the Antares Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up! Prepare to alter course!"

Khan Academy Can't Even Teach Calculus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37966292)

Has anybody who is funding Khan Academy actually looked at the material they teach? I teach college-level calculus, and I guarantee that if any student was learning about limits (the basics!) from Khan Academy, they would fail even the easy exams.

cf. http://www.khanacademy.org/exercises?exid=limits_2

Even in the videos where they're supposed to teach how to do the exercise, the lecturer just says "the way I think about these problems is to plug in a million and a billion, and you see how it works.... I know I kinda just hand waved it but that's how you think about it." He then proceeds to claim "they kinda just cancel out," and "it's non-rigorous but it gives you the right answer."

This is why our students come up with inane things like sin(x)/x = sin, because "they just kinda cancel out." Nobody should seriously attempt to learn from an institution that doesn't actually teach mathematics, reinforces bad habits, and probably confuses students more in the long run.

Even in the art history videos (e.g. Virgin of the Rocks http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/leonardo-virgin-of-the-rocks), they discuss the differences between two versions of Da Vinci's painting but ignore the only visual difference: the hand! Instead they talk about "how I think of Mary" blah blah blah.

Go get a real education by reading a book or going to class. World-class education my ass.

Re:Khan Academy Can't Even Teach Calculus (1)

X-Power (1009277) | more than 2 years ago | (#37969012)

This isn't for college-level calculus teachers....

This is for those kids that tried your course and didn't understand shit.
Key concepts that just didn't make it into their brains can now be smoothed out instead of being a huge gap in the course ware.
Kinda understanding some few key concepts which allows you to grasp the whole better is better than not understanding a few key concepts and getting hung up on it and failing everything.

frist sTop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37968152)

the party in street a fact: FreeBSD it simple, is the worst oof arithmetic, me if you'd like, our cause. Gay

Yet Another Eugenics War (1)

Kojow777 (929199) | more than 2 years ago | (#37970034)

Sounds like a move that will kick off a whole new eugenics war all over again.

Professionally produced videos (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#37976004)

The videos need to be professionally produced. The ad hoc nature is very distracting and time consuming--missing coverage etc. The range and amount of videos is a good specification however. The reversal of homework/instruction times is much needed.

Khan Academy not tested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38104018)

It's amazing that we are all hailing Khan even though his program long term is not tested. Education is more of just a thought for us all to jump on the band wagon and hail its success. Let him trial his ideas. Then in a few years if children have wasted their lives allowing him to fulfil his ambitions then let him be accountable!!. But if it's a success then lets hail him.

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