Skip to comments.Sal Khan: Building a better university
Posted on 02/16/2012 6:22:59 PM PST by RoosterRedux
Student debt is nearing a record $1 trillion in the U.S. Jobless law school grads are suing their alma maters for false advertising. Needless to say, the cost of higher education -- not to mention the return on the investment -- has become a sore spot for many.
With an election on the horizon, the Obama Administration has not been deaf to the grumbling. The president addressed the topic in his State of the Union, and his administration has since launched a campaign to stem the rise in college tuition by tying a school's federal aid prospects to its affordability. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Senator John Kerry were dispatched to university campuses earlier this week to tout the plan. In all the tut-tut over college affordability, there been some nostalgia for the time when some world-class, public universities -- The City University of New York and The University of California, for example -- didn't charge any tuition for many of its students.
Salman Khan's Khan Academy -- a free, nonprofit education site with more than 2,800 video lessons and financial backing from the likes of Google (GOOG) and the Gates Foundation -- has picked up this mantle, at least in spirit. Fortune caught up with Khan a few months ago while he was just about to speak at the Future of State Universities Conference in Dallas. Here is an edited transcript of the conversation.
Fortune: Judging from the counter on your site, it looks like Khan Academy is not too far away from delivering its 120-millionth lesson. What has surprised you the most about all those users?
(Excerpt) Read more at management.fortune.cnn.com ...
I want an African-American Socialism degree from Princeton...will that help me get a yob?
Or so I hear!
I’m a fan of Khan Academy. That was something I wanted to do when the internet first started, but I never had the wherewithal. I’m glad he did it.
Heres my modest proposal for education reform.
We have been discussing ways to fast track kids through high school to avoid the liberal agenda and other idiocies:
Proposal for the Free Republic High School Diploma.
Students watching videos will not supplant higher ed classrooms. For supplementary purposes or augmentation informative videos might be a good resource, but nothing will replace collaboration, student interaction, tutoring, and individual instruction.
There is no research that indicates the Khan video format (youtube) increases retention of content, either.
Millions of lessons but where are the results? Well, at least it is free.
Some professors are geniuses at communicating their subject matter and some are dolts.
Video tape, VCR, Youtube...that is the medium for communication geniuses. The best excel and the worst die a painful death!
Condolences for your faves!
“There is no research that indicates the Khan video format (youtube) increases retention of content, either. “
I’ve actually tried his k-12 math program (http://www.khanacademy.org/exercisedashboard) just to see what the fuss was all about. At least there is some interaction to this part of the academy but even this is not so great.
Mathematics is not about retention of content.
It is about wrapping one's mind and spirit around concepts that are intimidating...and finding affection and enthusiasm for that subject.
Take a look at the MITx program at mit.edu. That is phase two of a project that could restructure college education. MIT’s OpenCourseWare project was phase one. If your local college faculty and administrators aren’t familiar with the project, they are in for a shock.
There is a revolution brewing! And it is about time!
“Mathematics is not about retention of content.”
I guess you’ve never heard of Saxon, Kumon and DISTAR? Mastering the multiplication tables? You’re not going to know what 8x7 is just by watching a video about multiplication or doing a couple of random problems before going on to the next topic.
Decades ago there were teachers who taught in one-room schoolhouses. Their students all managed to earn Regents diplomas or the equivalent.
The difference? The students were motivated.
It has never been demonstrated that teachers with a degree from a school of education provide a better education.
Math is based on a foundation of prior discovery. That prior discovery need not be memorized (unless you are a stupid HS teacher who is still trying to earn his pension).
Sorry not getting down on your level.
I will check out your site tomorrow...Thanx for your hard work on this subject matter...and God Bless!
Derek Muller, physics educator and science video blogger researched this education format. His results call into question the effectiveness of these lessons.
He found that students have preconceptions prior to watching the video lesson; "....students believe they are learning but they do not engage with the media on a deep enough level to realize that what was is presented differs from their prior knowledge."
Interestingly, he gives credit to Khan for clear, concise explanations.
He was featured on a Stossel report on Fox Business, and it appears that the results are encouraging in a number of school districts that are using the videos.
The teachers who use them were very enthusiastic about the children's willingness to study.
The teachers were enthusiastic about letting someone else do the work.
I've gone through some of the Khan lessons, and didn't think they were all that great. He makes a lot of mistakes, and while he corrects most of them, he doesn't correct all of them. I'm also left wondering why he doesn't re-record them without the mistakes.
He doesn’t remove the mistakes because he want his students to know it is okay to make them. He does however correct them...and he does encourage his students to do the same.
“The teachers who use them were very enthusiastic about the children’s willingness to study.”
This is a MAJOR WARNING SIGN to me. Teachers were (and are) also very enthusiastic about Fuzzy Math (i.e., using calculators starting in Kindergarten) and Whole Language.
When I hear kids complain, I know that they are actually learning something. When I hear teachers complain, I know that their students are having to learn stuff. When teachers are happy - kids get NOWHERE.
For the student who **has** to sit through the lecture ( a passive learner), Khan academy will not do such great things. Khan academy cannot do the magical equivalent of putting a book under your pillow at night and learning the book by morning.
I had to do a crash course on probability with my two daughters and we spent a whole day going through his lectures. I had a good background in the material already, but had not used it for years. I found that several times per lecture (to my daughters annoyance) I would stop the video at a critical point and ask them if they understood the point. They would almost always say they did and I would ask a question to make them prove it, and often they often did not understand the point. That is one of the downsides to these lectures. Good problem sets usually fix that up. However, those lectures were invaluable for getting through the material in the short time we had.
He doesn't always catch them and correct them, but the few he missed in what I watched were obvious. They are always things like forgetting a minus sign or adding two numbers incorrectly.
I am an engineer, and I honestly believe that I taught myself everything. The people who wrote the books are the ones who gave me an education, and I am forever grateful for all those authors. The classroom in college (high school was helpful) did nothing for me.
My model on education is that almost all meaningful education (especially in math) is self taught and comes from within. Khan academy scores well in the paradigm of mine.
Note: Some things, such as medical doctors, obviously require good teaching to do correctly. However, most math, physics, and engineering is not really taught by outside tutors. It comes from internal drive and good material, at least in my experience.
Tell him in the comments below the video. It would help everyone.
-— I am an engineer, and I honestly believe that I taught myself everything. The people who wrote the books are the ones who gave me an education, and I am forever grateful for all those authors. The classroom in college (high school was helpful) did nothing for me.——
I went to engineering school and I couldn’t agree more. HS was pretty much useless to me to.
I wasn’t a born engineer, so I left the field after graduating. I’m a born philosopher/artist, and make my living as an artist, never having taken a formal lesson. I also believe that I know Aristotelean/Scholastic philosophy better than most philosophy majors.
I learned philosophy by reading St. Thomas directly, and from his leading contemporary exponent, Peter Kreeft. Where would I receive better instruction? And where else could I test my understanding better than in the crucible of on-line argumentation?
The fact is, mass-schooling is hopelessly outmoded and archaic.
He does not re-record them, because to go from his quality, to professional quality would take much more time than it seems. I have done some amateur narration and have come to appreciate how difficult good narration is. What really makes his website unique is the quantity of material that he provides. It is a one stop shop for so much material. If his approach was to get everything perfect, he would probably only have 25% of the material that he currently has. I believe it is a deliberate tradeoff on his part. Have you seen some of the history channel animations. they are awesome. How come a whole chemistry curriculum has not been produced by the people who do the history channel stuff in conjunction with the people who come up with video games. This kind of approach could kill 50 % of the college courses and save students and society 100's of billions of dollars.
-—This is a MAJOR WARNING SIGN to me. Teachers were (and are) also very enthusiastic about Fuzzy Math (i.e., using calculators starting in Kindergarten) and Whole Language.-—
All true. But take it up a level.
Who says that anyone needs to learn math, beyond adding and subtracting? I graduated from engineering school, changed careers, and have never used math beyond simple arithmetic. Yes, math can be beautiful, useful, and crystal clear, but for most people it’s esoteric and useless.
My point is that we need to focus on the larger questions regarding education. What is a good education? Does education have to be formal? Who has the authority to determine what a child should learn?
My answer is that parents should be a child’s primary educator, and that they should be given wide latitude in determining their child’s course of education. I’m equally happy with the elimination of compulsory attendance laws, and/or the establishment of a voucher system. If the latter, the only criteria for accreditation would be reading instruction, grammatical instruction for young children, training in logic for older children, natural law, and basic math. The rest is optional.
Why? We want citizens to be able to communicate their ideas, and to know how to think and argue. These skills allow children to learn on their own.
I have deliberately left out the most important object of education, which is religious instruction, since eternal life with God is man’s final end. But this is the province of parents, and they should be free to choose a school in line with their beliefs.
This is a question I think about a lot. I spend a lot of time pondering the world which my grandparents lived in. How did that world accomplish so much, given how few of them had college degrees and in my grandparents cases, not even high school degrees. Yet the "uneducated" generation, built the skyscrapers in NYC, they built aircraft carriers for WW2, they built airplanes, roads, machines, tools. They farmed the land. (Unfortunately, they also sowed all the seeds for deviating from the constitution, but that's another story)
Society has been snookered about what an education is, its importance, and where it truly comes from.
they have been snookered because liberals took control of the education industy. Like everything else liberals run...they destroyed it.
it could be possible that these teachers may be learning right along with the kids.
Remember...while the teachers were being “trained” - it was all about “progressive” techniques, and making kids feeling “included”. Building self esteem.
The teachers might be attracted to something they didn’t receive before.
—— Society has been snookered about what an education is, its importance, and where it truly comes from.——
That’s for sure. Google the essay, “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher,” and see if it doesn’t resonate with you.
If it does, you can read Gatto’s magnum opus, The Underground History of American Education, on-line for free. It will answer your questions.
Sadly, it will also give you an idea of the gravity of our situation. An economic collapse, ironically enough, might put our culture on the fast-track to recovery, because non-essentials will be quickly discarded.
Take at hazard one hundred children of several educated generations and one hundred uneducated children of the people and compare them in anything you please; in strength, in agility, in mind, in the ability to acquire knowledge, even in moralityand in all respects you are startled by the vast superiority on the side of the children of the uneducated.
Count Leo Tolstoy, “Education and Children” (1862)
We’ve been had.
Consider doctoral programs. The years up to candidacy are usually filled with coursework. Then the dissertation phase kicks in and many students never complete the research. They must manage their time, commitments, and resources with little structure other than what is self-imposed. Many ABDs out there. Are they dumb? I think some are brilliant, but they missed that structure. Perhaps they lean on it too much given most had this format during primary, secondary, higher ed.
I also believe that student interaction enriches the learning environment. We can earn a degree through self-study, but our education comes from reflection, practice, and application (including with others....at least in my view.
Would be an interesting topic to research. The current structure is ripe for change. Video learning would have helped me in school and I believe it's a great resource....along with books, practice, labs, and classroom support (not just physical, could be logical/virtual classrooms). I just don't think videos are a panacea and they will not replace traditional classrooms. Augment, perhaps.
Khan academy is not quite video learning. It is video learning, but it is free, it is done in 10 minute lessons, and all these 10 minute segments are immediately visible (thousands of them) and can be chosen by the user. Video learning of , say 10 years ago, was a cd with a video recording of a guy doing a classroom lecture.
While on the surface, they are both the same, the structure of Khan academy is much more beneficial.