When I tell people I want to go to grad school, I don’t always get the best reaction. “I’m so glad I don’t have to go school anymore,” they say. “I can’t believe you actually like it.”
Well, I do. I can’t help it. I’ve always liked to share knowledge and explore, which is why I was especially drawn in by this article – How Khan Academy is Changing the Rules of Education, by Clive Thompson. In the article, Thompson talks about Salman Khan, creator of Khan Academy (which boasts, as of this writing, more than 69 million lessons delivered), who has produced what are essentially screencasts designed for students struggling to comprehend a subject. Since Thompson’s article led me to believe the Khan’s videos are incredibly easy to use, I checked out a video on limits in precalculus. No, I didn’t become an expert, but the excerpt of the video made me feel like I could’ve survived my homework if I’d chosen to take a precalc class. And this is why Khan initially started making the videos: to help his family members learn about complicated subjects.
Khan’s videos aren’t just helpful to students. As Thompson suggests, they could be doing something more. They could be changing the way education works.
The idea is to invert the normal rhythms of school, so that lectures are viewed on the kids’ own time and homework is done at school. It sounds weird, Thordarson admits, but this flipping makes sense when you think about it. It’s when they’re doing homework that students are really grappling with a subject and are most likely to need someone to talk to.
Just think about how many times as a student you’ve been alone doing homework and you had no idea how to do the problem. I trudged through many math classes thinking I’d grasped the concept, handing in my homework thinking I’d nailed it only to see marks all over it when I got it back.
Thompson’s article isn’t the only one to mention a shift in education. I’m lucky enough to be working with Float Mobile Learning, where I get to, among other things, sort through the knowledge of many learning experts. In particular, I believe it was Dr. Gary Woodill at the Float Symposium in June who mentioned the same type of learning that Thompson mentions. Have students watch lessons at home, then complete their homework in class so that a teacher/moderator can guide them through when they need help.
Next year at this time, I’ll be starting my graduate career. Where? I don’t know. But I do know I want to look at the influence of technology on communication somehow, whether it be through the mass media or through education. I fully believe that based on what I’ve seen in my job so far and in Thompson’s article that I’m headed to grad school for the right reasons.