Kahn Academy: More Like Con Academy.

CBS's 60 Minutes ran a segment last night on the Khan Academy, which is essentially a series of online instructional videos for elementary school math.  The guy was doing them on his own until Bill Gates got involved and threw a bunch of cash at him in order to make the video anthologies more user friendly, as in school setting friendly.  What has developed is a program that allows participating classrooms to set the students free to tackle each concept at the student's own pace all the while monitored by a teacher.

The segment can be viewed here.

In my estimation there is no field of our society that is more prone to following trends than education.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, in the sense that our motives are in the right place.  We want to get people as smart as we can get them for as little money as possible.  So whenever someone says, "I have an idea."  Someone in the education field will undoubtedly say, "OK, I'll listen."

I don't have a lot to say about Khan Academy other than it is just one more of a long line of outcome-based models that have been tried, and many have failed.  Not really failed as much as not really succeeded.  Under this process, a student moves from one concept to another, being taught through this online video stream.  The teacher is there to monitor each student's progress.   Schools keep computer labs open until 10 PM for students without internet access at home.

If this scheme works at all, it works in wealthy suburban districts where students have either access at home or a parent willing to take them to school in the evening and pick them up later.  In other words, it isn't going to reform education as we know it.

I'd be interested to read your thoughts after you view the video.

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7 thoughts on “Kahn Academy: More Like Con Academy.”

  1. This is really attention-grabbing, You’re an overly professional blogger. I have joined your feed and stay up for seeking extra of your fantastic post. Additionally, I have shared your web site in my social networks

  2. This sort of education has been around for years and years and it may work for the bright and self-motivated, but it doesn’t work in a general setting, that is to say it isn’t for everybody. While I agree that it may have its place in assisting those who advance rapidly, it certainly isn’t as 60 minutes portrayed it to be, as a cure for all that ails public education.

    Ego be damned.

  3. Khan: I have an idea. I’ll do something about it.
    Folks: Hey neat idea, Khan. Thanks for producing something of value for the masses.
    60mins: Hey everybody else, look at this neat idea.
    Chilidog: BRAAUUHGH PAY ATTENTION TO ME. *unloads a fat coil onto the good works of others in a vain attempt to fill some void in his ego*

  4. I don’t see any ‘Con’ in the Kahn Academy. It’s just videos… instructions, Some people, I for one, find great value in education that is presented in this format. In the past, I’ve used other instructional videos offered by the Learning Company that helped me graduate from a 2-year college on the Dean’s list and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa society. I think the great ‘con’ in education, if there is such a thing, is to believe that one size will fit all, one method is the ‘correct’ approach and the only way to educate!

    In my early educational experience, it seemed to me that females did fine in the classroom, males not so well, and I was left in the dust. Only when I discovered that I learn best through listening… not reading so much, and listening with the option of pausing, backing up and re-listening when necessary and mastering the concept before trying to move on to the next level did I begin to advance as the scholar that I always could have been. I wish that the teachers who tried to teach me in my early years would have spent a little more time trying to discover how to revolutionize and stimulate my education by finding my best avenue of learning.

    If the Kahn Academy method and resource doesn’t work for you or your child, keep searching for what does work. People are not all the same and we have different learning preferences that work best for us. Find what works for you. I would love to find many additional subjects offered on-line, work at your own pace, free of cost! It’s of so much more value than endless mind-numbing television, Hollywood movies, or British attempts at comedy!

  5. My nephew attends a public school which has an open curriculum, I think it is sponsored by Columbia University. His school only went to 2nd grade, but he was working at a 4th grade level in Math. The teacher met with my brother and sister-in-law and suggested my nephew try the Khan Academy Math. As a result he completed the 4th grade Math curriculum, and scored well enough on the John Hopkins test to be accepted into their program. Quite an accomplishment for a 7 year old.
    He enjoys the Khan Academy videos so much that he continues to use them, expanding his knowledge, not only in Math but also in other subjects.

  6. education reformers are notorious for following ideas that someone says could revolutionize education.
    they remind me of the followers of Brian in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian.

    Folowr3 He has given us a sign!
    Folowr5 He has given us… a shoe!
    Folowr3 The shoe is the sign. Let us follow his example.
    Spike What?
    Folowr3 Let us, like him, hold up one shoe and let the other be upon our foot
    for this is His sign, and all who follow Him shall do likewise.
    Folowr2 Yes.
    Folowr5 No no no.
    Folowr2 No.
    Folowr5 The shoe is a sign that we must gather shoes together in a bundle.
    Folowr4 Cast off the shoes. Follow the gourd.
    Spike What?
    Folowr5 No. Let us gather shoes together. Let me…
    Folowr4 Get off!
    Folowr2 No, no. It is a sign that like him, we must think not of things of
    the body, but of the face, and head.
    Folowr5 Give me your shoe.
    Folowr2 Get off!
    Folowr4 Follow the gourd. The holy gourd of Jerusalem.
    Folowr The gourd!
    Folowr6 Hold up the sandal, as He has commanded us.
    Folowr3 It is a shoe! It is a shoe!
    Folowr6 It is a sandal!
    Folowr3 No, it is a shoe!
    Folowr4 Cast it away!
    Folowr5 Put it on!
    Folowr2 Clear off!
    Folowr5 Take the shoes and follow him!
    Folowr4 All ye…… follow the gourdie [?!?]


  7. katie was an early adopter of KA – she used them when they were merely a pup. she got a good deal of help from them for a good year or so… then less so. we even had her signed up to go to a KA camp out in CA one year but she opted out. i have not watched the video… i will later… but can well believe that anything gates gets involved in can be corrupted

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