Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Questions for King Khan

I keep reading about the flipped classroom and the Khan Academy videos and I have developed a few questions. So I fired them off to the Khan Academy. Maybe I will get an answer, maybe not. But I had to ask. Here they are, so if anyone else has answers, I'd love to discuss.

1. Doesn't a static video make it impossible for a student to ask questions during the direct instruction portion?
1a. doesn't this inability to ask questions limit the scope of the instruction? Teaching is a dynamic and flowing process which often engages by pursuing tangents or unexpected areas. Video instruction stifles this, doesn't it?
1b. video instruction can't adapt to a perceived need -- either by rewording, or restructuring content if the used mode of instruction doesn't click, or by moving to a more basic bit of content to reinforce core knowledge if a teacher recognizes the need.
1c. a student who needs to learn cumulatively but has an unanswered question after minute 2 cannot necessarily get through the next 13 minutes, so how can learned be effected? if a classroom has a number of students with different questions unanswered, the teacher ends up losing even more time trying to address all the different needs and then sending the students BACK out to view the video again.

2. Isn't the academy approach limited by the cult of personality of Mr. Khan? As the 60 Minutes piece reminds us, these videos worked because of the ability of Mr. Khan to break things down. Wouldn't it be more useful to teach teachers how to break things down in the same, effective, way, instead of removing the instruction from them and handing it over? What happens if Mr. Khan loses his voice? No new topics can be covered. Maybe, instead of hiring engineers to make for a website, he should be hiring teachers who can branch out in the curricular offerings and maybe even over a variety of versions/approaches to the same content area to address students who don't click with one particular presentation.

3. While (maybe) this method is effective with math and the sciences (though many teachers would be concerned that this approach in these areas is often heavily about process and not about inquiry), it seems as if it would really be useful in the more liberal arts, such as English Language and Literature. What worries me is that History instruction is often more about the critical thinking than about the retention of facts, thus making it less of a Khan-able topic than it seems.

4. While teachers are being taught in their grad school classes to de-emphasize frontal instruction, doesn't the Khan video place the teaching back in the hands of a a lecturer (or frontal instructor) thus denying any of the instructional advantages gained by removing the Teacher-in-center model?

5. Isn't the Khan system simply teching-up the same old discrete curriculum model of education? Shouldn't we be focusing on the cross disciplinary instruction and application to better prepare students for the real world and messy presentations of content?

1 comment:

  1. edits suggested by Moosehead made. For the Khan article/video, try this


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