Learning With Technology And A Human Touch

5 Dec
Khan Academy

Many are going crazy with the notion that online learning, especially learning with videos, is the answer we have been looking for all these years to address the issues associated with students. Students do not want to study and spend a lot of time in other activities such as video games, TV, and instant messenger/Facebook. If we give them options to learn anytime, anywhere, they will be more likely to study.

Videos are like teachers with a rewind button. The students can review the concepts any number of times until they get it. The Khan Academy is doing a great job of providing these videos at no cost to the users. These videos are a wonderful resource for poor students and also to schools for saving money. However, a videos-based online learning solution might not be the answer because they do not take into account how people learn.

Human beings are social by nature. And that’s the reason kids go to schools and colleges and adults go to offices. The once overhyped concept of telecommuting or virtual teams has not been successful. In one of my blog posts, I’d written:

  • There is no social context with these videos. What if someone has a question? What if someone is perceiving the instruction in a different way than intended? How do we know if, when, and how much they are learning?
  • The videos can be used to complement a teacher. The teacher teaches in class, then asks the students to watch a few videos for some time, and then do exercises, all under the teacher’s supervision who is always present to answer questions and guide the students.

Per a recent New York Times article, it appears that a few schools are using the Khan Academy videos in classrooms and using the analytics to gauge student learning. This is great news and makes my very happy. This is not to say that similar products will have to be used the same way. Older kids and teenagers have longer attention span and realize the importance of learning; however, it’s not going to work for everyone. For students who are motivated to learn, a video-based product or a product with interactive elements may be the right answer we’ve all been looking for. There will always be skeptics (which is a very good thing) but we have to keep moving.

Related readings:
Khan Academy Pilot Program a Success in California

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