Students, young and old, are not, as many would believe, blank slates. This has been the teaching model for thousands of years. A “sage” stands on the “stage”, lectures on one or more topics, and expects the students to learn everything. Unfortunately, as we’ve realized, this is not the best way to teach and does not resemble the best practices established by decades of research in the field of education.
Technology has long been considered the panacea for educating the young generation. It, too, has failed to generate enthusiasm among the young minds, though it’s a very useful medium if used the right way. Technology has never been the solution. Engagement, motivation, and pedagogy are more important factors. There are socioeconomic, family, and home atmosphere factors too but those are incredibly difficult to address.
In one of my earlier posts – The Changing Rules of Education – Reality or Hype? – I’d written about a number of factors why technology (mainly online videos) may not work for every student. I’d used Khan Academy as the example, but it applied to every education company. One factor was:
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?
Today, I came across a YouTube video (embedded below) created by Derek Muller. He has a PhD in “Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education” (thesis). His research basically supports my argument above. I also read an article by Stanford University Mathematician, Dr. Keith Devlin. Both commented on Khan Academy’s science and math videos, respectively, and the reasons these videos are not the solution to the problems that plague our education system.
We look for heroes in society because we can’t be one ourselves. And when we find one, we cheer and support him that creates a hype that attracts more cheer. I’m not against Khan Academy or other technology-based education companies. They have real value for many students, but they are not going to be the saviors of the education system unless we stop believing the hype and focus on the real issues.
www.veritasium.com videos on science education
Khan Academy: Good, Bad, or Ugly?
“The Audrey Test”: Or, What Should Every Techie Know About Education?