Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Khan Academy: A Game Changer?

According to its web site, The Khan Academy "is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere." The driving force behind this academy is Salman (Sal) Khan (see clip above). According to his bio, Sal has BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, a BS degree in mathematics and a MBA from Harvard Business School. More recently, he was senior research analyst at a Bay Area investment fund. Sal has generated over a thousand instructional videos (available on YouTube) in areas such as mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, and various areas of finance. The vision of the academy outlines its goal of providing high-quality instruction that can be delivered online (and offline) and at the pace of individual students.

I have watched several of the chemistry videos and generally found them to be of high quality and engaging. Many of the videos at the Academy web site are appropriate for college-level classes and raise important questions about how these videos (or similar videos found on the web) should or could be used in our courses. I invite you, if possible, to view a few videos in your discipline, or a related discipline, and consider the questions below. If you have any comments, please click the link below and give us your thoughts.

1. What are your thoughts on having these types of instructional videos available on YouTube? Can they make an impact on K-12 or higher education?

2. Is there a place for these videos in your courses at Murray State?

3. Should we be thinking about how to design our courses around the availability of these and other quality instructional materials available on the web?


Linda said...

These are powerful tools. I really think they will have a significant impact not only on course content, but on the role of traditional universities. Thanks for sharing.

Daft said...

I saw the piece on this wonderful teacher on PBS. Most of us strive to create an environment where the learner can be exposed to a variety of explanations about the phenomena we study. These certainly would be part of that mix as long as we fully credit the importance of the author's/teacher's work to our students. One day, we will hopefully teach ourselves out of our jobs.

Dr. Glynn Mangold said...

It seems that these videos would be particularly helpful to students who need clarification on a particular topic. I don't see them replacing the classroom instructor, but I can clearly see how they would facilitate what is already being taught.

We need more of this. I hope such resources will eventually be available in my field as well.

Anonymous said...

As for the question posed in the blog title... I don't think this is a game-changer.

Online resources such as these can certainly be a helpful supplement for students.

But experience tells me that a positive, interactive, face-to-face environment has the greatest impact on student learning and development.

I take the availability of resources such as these videos as encouragement to maximize the benefit of what I bring to the table as a teacher at Murray State: creating an interactive classroom environment, giving ample feedback to students on their work, serving as an example of the characteristics of the Murray State graduate, etc etc.

An online video is not going to provide for this kind of communication... but, this kind of communication can be nicely aided by the kinds of resources provided by CTLT. :-)