Flipping tradition on its head
SALMAN KHAN is still getting used to being known as the man who flipped the classroom. Seven years ago, the then-Boston hedge fund analyst began to tutor his younger cousin in New Orleans remotely. Her maths marks improved, so Khan uploaded short videos to YouTube, where other students stumbled onto his lessons.
More than 3000 videos later, the Khan Academy is on the way to hitting 100 million views and has the backing of Bill Gates and Google and, increasingly, the attention of professional educators.
In the early days of his venture, Khan received emails from teachers saying they used his videos to ”flip” their lessons. They would assign Khan’s maths and science lectures as homework and conduct exercises and drills – traditional homework activities – the next day at school.
Students could pause and repeat the videos at will, then consolidate their knowledge in the classroom. When Khan mentioned this technique in his TED talk in March, the idea took off around the world.
”That’s what caught on but … we don’t think that’s the full transformation,” Khan says over the phone from the US. ”The real transformation is when you allow kids to work at their own pace and just ‘flipping’ doesn’t allow for that.”
In other words, asynchronous coursework allows students to master material tailored to their specific needs and interests. Much like a computer game, students complete one level before moving on to the next.
”It doesn’t matter if you’re six or 13 or 80 – it’s just how you would learn anything. That’s how you’d learn an instrument or a foreign language – that’s how you’d learn to ride a bicycle.”
Teachers who use Khan’s software can track students’ progress and troubleshoot problem areas.
Khan argues that, far from removing teachers from the learning process, the videos move them up in the ”value chain” of education. ”Lectures actually are not a high-value activity for teachers to perform,” he says.
”High-value activities for teachers are to work side-by-side with students, to form bonds with students, to coach students and to mentor students.”
What this new approach does challenge, however, is traditional notions around curricula and assessment, as well as students’ attitudes towards learning. Instead of expecting some students to pass and others to fail, for example, the hope is that every student will eventually master all the material.
This shift has many implications for the classroom, Khan says.
”It’s a very simple idea that allows you to completely rethink what the physical environment might look like.”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/flipping-tradition-on-its-head-20111113-1ndwh.html#ixzz1djCNUalv
- Making American Schoolkids Competitive Again (timesoftexas.com)
- Harvard Business: How Online Innovators Are Disrupting Education (blogs.hbr.org)
- Liberating the Classroom for Creativity – Khan Academy (annmic.wordpress.com)
- Flipping the Classroom: An Introduction (onlinecollege.org)
- Meeting Sal Khan (coopcatalyst.wordpress.com)
- Learning to Educate (thenewprint.com)
- Khan Academy – The Future of Education (postamericana.wordpress.com)
- Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, is revolutionizing how kids learn math and science. (slate.com)