Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Khan Academy Misperceptions, and a Response

The author of this blog is the lead designer at the Khan Academy, and has this to say to critics:
With all of the positive press the Khan Academy has received lately, we’ve also started attracting a bunch of new critics. This is a good thing. I can’t tell you how existing in an echo chamber where everyone loves everything you are doing can make a sane person become really paranoid after a while. While there are a bunch of really valid concerns about what we’re doing, I wanted to try to tackle some of the more pervasive misconceptions about the Khan Academy from my perspective.

He then identifies 5 misconceptions and addresses each of them.


allen (in Michigan) said...

Intentions, in this case, are largely immaterial.

The value of the resource will drive its utilization with the indifference of the public education system acting as a brake on usage. Just as with every preceding technical development that's been tried in the education system.

The difference between, say, educational television and Khan Academy is that the public perception of the public education system has changed and those changes are manifesting themselves in the expansion of charter law, to a lesser degree vouchers.

What's changing is that the indifference to educational efficacy that's inherent to the school district doesn't afflict charters. As the density of charters reaches some critical level the need to innovate and differentiate themselves will overcome the inertia and lack of imagination that's the legacy of the district system. Khan Academy, and other on-line resources will be there when that day arrives.

In the mean time those resources are busily burying themselves in the public conciousness because they enjoy one great advantage over previous efforts to improve education via the introduction of technology - convenience. Any time you want and, more and more, anywhere you want there's education. Sooner or later even that contrast with the current system's going to become significant.

NEKO said...


(Shatner impressions just don't work as well in text form. ^_^)

Darren said...

Before showing Khan Academy videos in class, I show the KHAAAAANNNN! clip. Like everything else, it's on YouTube.

Dean Baird said...

Here's a criticism of Khan:

It may well be a valid critique. The comment discussion is certainly robust. The problem I have with the criticism is that the One And Only Method of showing the videoclips is in what I call "Clockwork Orange Style." Passive observation.

The videos I use in my own class are longer format and content-rich, but I rarely show a video that doesn't involve a question sheet that students complete during the video. Short questions; multiple response styles, but students actively engage the material rather laying back and letting it happen.

In physics, explicitly challenging misconceptions is important. But I use videos more for content delivery and save misconception challenges for labs, demonstrations, and classroom discussions.

Darren said...

I use Khan's videos either to reinforce what I've taught (sometimes a different presenter helps, for some reason) or to demonstrate a slightly different way of solving a problem--but your "passive" comment is valid, if you don't require anything other than watching the videos.

He does have a "work these problems out" section....