Saturday, April 25, 2015

Math Education Game-Changer: Khan Academy Math

Features of Khan Academy Math       

  • It's Free!   [Financially supported by Bill Gates, Google, and others who care about genuine math education.]
  • It's available 24 hours a day, every day.
  • It's exactly the math that students should learn. There are no constructivist math distractions.
  • It completely covers all important math topics:  elementary school math, middle school math, high school math, and college math.
  • Every important math topic is covered with one or more internet videos.
    • A typical video is 10 to 15 minutes long.  This fits the average child's attention span.
    • The student hears the instructor (usually Salman Khan), who is not seen, but appears to be sitting to the left of the student.
    • The unseen instructor speaks and writes as he explains the current math topic.
      • Salman Khan believes that viewing the instructor's face is an unnecessary distraction for the student.
  • Each video is linked to exercises that are designed to test the student's understanding of the video.  
    • Each exercise comes with multiple hints.  After each hint, the student can request another hint, until the problem is completely solved, typically after 3 or 4 hints.  
    • The student can request exercise after exercise, without ever seeing an exercise repeated.
    • The student can easily move back and forth from the video to related exercises.
  • There's a "knowledge map" and other orientation features that: 
    • Show how the current video relates to other videos (including prerequisites for the current video).
    • Shows the student what is possible next, based on what the student has already done.  What is possible next is not limited by the student's age.
  • The Khan system "remembers" what videos the student has viewed and how the student has performed on the exercises.  
  • Multiple features encourage the student to move beyond initial understanding to full mastery (long-term remembering concepts and methods).  
    • You don't know what you don't remember.  
  • There are user interfaces for students, parents, coaches, and teachers.   
  • It's far superior to classroom learning. 
    • Each student works at his or hers own pace, at any time and in any place.  
    • Each student can take all the time needed to master each topic.  Unlike classroom learning, there's no need to move on because the teacher is ready to move on.
    • Learning is not limited to the content traditionally covered in the "grade" associated with the student's age.  
    • There's no fear of making a mistake in front of a teacher or peers.
    • There's no multiple hours delay between a lesson and "homework." The student can easily switch back and forth from a video to exercises related to the math content covered in the video 
    • The student can repeat a video, rewind to any earlier point in the video, or fast forward over points already understood.
    • The student can easily fill in gaps by using videos that cover content from earlier grades.
  • In some ways, it's superior to tutorial learning.  
    • The student doesn't have to remember what the tutor said. 
    • The student isn't pressured by a tutor's questions.
    • The student isn't distracted by the tutor's face or behavior.
    • And it's free!

Copyright 2015 William G. Quirk, Ph.D.

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