Sunday, March 11, 2012
Shatner is clearly not a fan.
The future of education involves technology. No one disputes this. Less certain is how that technology will and should be utilized. If you are savvy enough to locate this post then you have most likely heard of Khan Academy. If you haven't then you need to watch the 60 Minutes segment linked below. Everybody who's anybody in education including Bill Gates and everyone in the media seem to be falling in love with the potential of what Khan academy might mean for the future of our schools. I'm in love too. I love the simplicity and usefulness of Khan's videos. But as a Star Trek fan and teacher, I am wary since Khan was formerly managing hedge funds and also has ties to Bill Gates. I, like Captain Kirk, approach the unknown carefully. I wish I could say it is because I am smart. It's not.
Khan's emergence is nothing short of amazing and it illustrates how the internet has redefined our world and access to knowledge. When I watch some of his videos I get sort of hypnotized. They are great. His intellect shines through; even just hearing his voice and seeing his illustrations you realize how capable his mind actually is. But they are videos. A lot of folks seem to forget this. To describe them as better than lecture is like saying DVDs are better than VHS. It is a logic that is hard to argue with I suppose.
The brilliant Sal Khan seems to best understand how to use this as a resource. He stresses the non-profit approach and that to me is a profound fact. The technology use is meant to free the teacher up to help kids. These videos have tremendous potential to achieve quick concise conveyance of knowledge and empower teachers to do more.
Yet as the phrase "flipping the classroom" shows, there are potential issues with implementation. Please forgive me and other teachers for pausing and thinking but we do so with cause. Maybe we are wary of how powerful people are drooling over this approach to learning. Resources such as Khan's are perceived by decision makers as more than they can possibly be. Another latest greatest thing. You hear the phrase "the future"...that alone makes me cringe a little. What will be the implications of all this? I couldn't pretend to know(actually I could but won't).
Some issues that arise:
Should all students everywhere access the same uniform version of the same set of information? Is that a good thing? (I get annoyed I can't ask questions or get simple clarification.) There are few if any teachers working to develop this stuff...from what I can tell. Some cite the "gamification" of math skills as they work to earn "badges." It'd be better to tie that into the reliance on standardized testing as a whole. I could go on, but I am a busy man. Google for yourself, but as always be mindful of the source. You can't trust everybody as you can trust the TU.
For now, all I know is that I have used Khan's videos with my students as well as for myself. Maybe he could put all these videos on one of those new laserdisc or something?