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Khan Academy: the Teachers Strike Back 575

Posted by Soulskill
from the quality-versus-quantity dept.
theodp writes "With his Khan Academy: The Hype and the Reality screed in the Washington Post, Mathalicious founder Karim Kai Ani — a former middle school teacher and math coach — throws some cold water on the Summer of Khan Love hippies, starting with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. From the article: 'When asked why so many teachers have such adverse reactions to Khan Academy, Khan suggests it's because they're jealous. "It'd piss me off, too, if I had been teaching for 30 years and suddenly this ex-hedge-fund guy is hailed as the world's teacher." Of course, teachers aren't "pissed off" because Sal Khan is the world's teacher. They're concerned that he's a bad teacher who people think is great; that the guy who's delivered over 170 million lessons to students around the world openly brags about being unprepared and considers the precise explanation of mathematical concepts to be mere "nitpicking." Experienced educators are concerned that when bad teaching happens in the classroom, it's a crisis; but that when it happens on YouTube, it's a "revolution."'"
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Khan Academy: the Teachers Strike Back

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  • by iceaxe (18903) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:02PM (#40755933) Journal

    Online education is in its infancy. This is an area where many ideas are being tried. Some will work better than others. Probably nothing currently available is "the answer", but rather all are those little baby steps toward what will eventually emerge. It's a normal and pretty universally unavoidable process.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:14PM (#40756173)

      No, online education is just 'education'. We have been having this argument for at least 100 years regarding technology and its transformation of learning. Some things do get easier better with technology, but in the end what we have a is a teaching and learning problem -- not a technology problem. Using new technologies we figure out ways to improve teaching and learning but one technology will not be the answer.

      Nor will Salman Khan's idea that he is going to build Charter schools where students watch and hour of his videos a day to learn all the math they need to know and spend the rest of the day playing guitar or making paintings.

      Learning is hard. Some parts can be made easier with computer technology. Some parts can be made easier by turning them into a game. Some parts you just need to sit down and memorize. Most parts are done best when there is a group who are trying to figure things out and working together to achieve a common goal.

      This is how businesses grow and get better. This is how children grow and learn. Technologies including chalk, pencils, iPads and times tables are tools to help.

      • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:40PM (#40756609) Homepage

        Learning is hard.

        The hardest problem with learning is that you get lost in all the unresolved references, when the teacher (or book) assumes knowledge from the student that the student doesn't yet have, not the learning new stuff itself. And that's something that could very well be solved by technology and by making use of an interactive medium. Of course it could also be solved by having much smaller classes and more teachers, but I don't quite think that will happen anytime soon.

      • by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @08:55AM (#40763085)

        Nor will Salman Khan's idea that he is going to build Charter schools where students watch and hour of his videos a day to learn all the math they need to know and spend the rest of the day playing guitar or making paintings.

        You completely missed the point of Khan Academy. The point is not to reduce education to watching an hour of videos and it's not to remove teachers from educational process. To the contrary - it's to use the teachers more effectively.

        Here are the important points:

        1)Teacher's time
        At the moment, teachers spend 50% or more of their classroom time delivering a lecture. This is a complete waste of their talent. Instead, kids can look at the lecture themselves online - they cannot interrupt the teacher to ask a question, but they don't do that during a lesson anyway - with a video they can at least rewind it and listen to it again. Then, they can spend the time in the classes doing creative work, discussions and exercises with the teacher's assistance.

        2)Student's speed
        At the moment we require that all students go through the material at the same speed. This is terribly inefficient as it results with most students either underachieving and getting bored or moving on through the material without learning what's needed. With Khan's approach you can let students go through the material at their own speed. You can still challenge them to do better but you don't need to abandon the slower students because the class has to move on

        3)Tracking
        The teacher can track each student's development in a comprehensive way - he'll be able to easier identify who has what kind of problems or strengths and use this information to develop the kids to their best possibilities.

        Yes, the education process has been developing a long time but if Khan's approach catches on, it will be a pretty big step forward.

    • exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:20PM (#40756281) Journal

      People decrying this are the teachers who are in fear of change. Nobody said his solution has to be the final one but guess what - do you see any of these teachers who are complaining doing anything to create online teaching methods?

      If anything, Khan should be commended for apparently doing what some teachers have not - and for free, no less.

    • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:57PM (#40756909)

      I'd have given a testicle for something like Khan Academy, when I was young. Instead, I got a bunch of angry overworked and under-performing teachers that just wanted me to shut up, go away, not ask questions, and *most of all* never correct them when they spread completely inaccurate information to the class. All I wanted was a way to self-educate. To a degree, I accomplished that with a lot of school-skipping, when I spent day after day at the central public library, instead. However, I was often hindered by wanting to learn things, but not knowing where to start or what path to follow. For example, I would be far ahead of where I am, today, if I had someone or something to guide me into programming a decade earlier. Back when I didn't have an internet to tell me about C and C++ and Perl. Back when the furthest I could get was "I know I want to code" and reading a book in the tiny section at the library that only really had theoretical things with pseudo-code that didn't mean anything to me at the time.

      Khan (and the internet, overall) is an autodidacts wet-dream. It is what could have changed the lives of so many young people in the past who weren't stupid or lazy, but weren't getting any real meat out of their "real" education.

      • by firewrought (36952) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @12:10AM (#40760499)

        I'd have given a testicle for something like Khan Academy, when I was young. Instead, I got a bunch of angry overworked and under-performing teachers that just wanted me to shut up, go away.

        Heck, I had good teachers, and I think having Khan+Wikipedia growing up would have been well worth a testicle!

    • by trout007 (975317) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @06:09PM (#40757159)

      I would think a combination of Wikipedia and Khan would be great. Have competing videos of the different subjects all online and let the viewers rank them. As for him making mistakes, so what? Are critics saying that professional teachers never make mistakes? How many would be willing to put their school year online for criticism? At least with Khan Academy you have people who know watching and commenting. That lets people track down errors.

      I've always said that lectures are a waste of time. You say the same thing over every semester. If it was a produced lecture you could keep improving the quality of it and use class time more productively for hands on activities and interaction.

  • Classroom vs. Kahn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:04PM (#40755973)

    If the teaching is going to be bad either way, then Kahn costs a heck of a lot less to get the same result.

    If Kahn and a unionized teacher are both bad, for Kahn the solution is for someone to upload a new lesson that's better. For the teacher, the solution is to suck it up because teacher unions demand that seniority trumps all other considerations.

    I have no idea if Kahn or classroom teachers are ultimately the better choice. But the teachers unions better cobble together some damn good arguments for why they deserve the compensation and job protections they get, if Kahn offers way better bang for the buck.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:10PM (#40756095) Journal

      If the teaching is going to be bad either way, then Kahn [sic] costs a heck of a lot less to get the same result.

      I think I should point out that I haven't found any place where Khan suggests that his youtube videos replace public education.

      Khan's made a few mistakes. The first that is the worst is that the article mentions he was corrected about multiplying negative numbers and instead of praising the people for making a new video correcting him, he apparently just took his video down and replaced it. And then made some little remark about why people put up such a big fuss about this concept. His second and less grievous mistake was to engage talking heads and accept praise from politicians. I think if he had just focused on making videos, ignored the praise and let Bill Gates or some other public figure pitch the video, he wouldn't find himself the target in this back and forth. We need to stop looking at online education as a replacement and instead as an augmenting force in our children's learning.

      • by imlepid (214300) <kkinkaidNO@SPAMimlepid.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @06:05PM (#40757089)

        Wrong. Classroom PLUS Khan

        Yes, and there are examples that the Classroom + Khan is an effective model. The Economist has an article [economist.com] describing how the Los Altos school district is using Khan's videos to provide the "dry lecture" which is assigned for homework while classroom time is used for supervised problem solving with the teacher roving about helping any struggling students. That model makes complete sense to me especially since we keep hearing stories about how parent's can't do their kids homework (I've been called in to help my little cousin with her math homework at times when her parents were thoroughly confused).

    • by CommieLib (468883) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:15PM (#40756197) Homepage
      Exactly. If Khan doesn't work, it will fade away. The same is not true of public schools. Look, I don't even think most teachers are going to disagree with this - the public school system doesn't allow for adjustment and experimentation - it just can't. The reasons why are political, and don't really matter. But the system hasn't worked for about a generation and a half now, nothing is going to change from the inside.
      • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:59PM (#40756963) Homepage

        "Look, I don't even think most teachers are going to disagree with this - the public school system doesn't allow for adjustment and experimentation - it just can't."

        As a community college teacher (somewhat informed of education issues -- I deal with the depressing product), I will disagree with that. A major problem with American education is too much adjustment and experimentation -- education PhDs and textbook publishers are incentivized to "churn" their offerings regularly, and produce new pedagogies and new textbooks which are incompatible with the old ones (generating new sales). This, regardless of whether they're scientifically established to improve results or not (preferably above the level of placebo/pygmalion effect from self-interested researchers).

        One thing that I really like about my own job is being able to interact with students and get statistics on what helps and what doesn't, and refine my presentations over and over again every semester. But elsewhere I see big, sweeping, politically-charged changes every few years that leaves teachers and the system constantly at sea.

      • by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @07:23PM (#40758271)

        = = = Exactly. If Khan doesn't work, it will fade away. The same is not true of public schools. = = =

        Thank Gaia, given that universal public education is incredibly valuable.

        = = = Look, I don't even think most teachers are going to disagree with this - the public school system doesn't allow for adjustment and experimentation - it just can't. The reasons why are political, and don't really matter. = = =

        You don't spend much time volunteering at your local public school, or working over a period of years with public school teachers, do you?

        = = = But the system hasn't worked for about a generation and a half now, nothing is going to change from the inside.= = =

        The US public school system works exceedingly well. You are taking a few failed large urban districts such as City of Detroit and City of St. Louis and projecting them onto all "public schools" (the talking point meme these days is actually 'government schools').

        The fact is that the vast majority of US families live in suburbs or exurbs of large cities and/or in small cities (and some rural districts), and for the most part their public schools are doing just fine (and if you like/believe standardized tests, doing better every year). Where that isn't true there is generally a clear link to lack of money (rural districts).

        However, many of those families get their news from a specific ideologically-driven source and have been told that "public schools are failing". Well, they know it can't be their public school district because they get the test reports, know the teachers, etc. BUT - it must be those people in the next district over who have failing public schools. Let's force them to privatize! Think there might be an agenda at work there somewhere?

        sPh

  • I don't know .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by King_TJ (85913) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:05PM (#40755985) Journal

    My personal thought is, who cares? You get what you pay for, right? Services like Khan Academy are great if they're helping people learn things they wouldn't otherwise take an interest in learning about, or if it enables learning they were interested in but couldn't afford traditional methods of education.

    If you're already IN a traditional classroom environment, then no - I'm not sure Khan Academy lessons are so great. I mean, you have to ask, as a paying student, why you're paying your hard-earned money to get a personal classroom experience with supposed educational professionals, who turn around and ask you to sit through canned Khan presentations instead of presenting the material themselves.

    As for the "precise explanation of mathematical concepts to be mere nitpicking"? Maybe it is, really? By that, I mean, most people are really only interested in learning math as long as it allows them to accomplish something. The minority who find the theory itself fascinating and want to learn more math for the sake of learning it are the ones who will probably move beyond whatever Khan Academy teaches, and consult other sources.

    If you know enough math to get correct answers to the problem you encounter as part of your daily life or job, then that's likely ALL the math you really need to know.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "You get what you pay for, right?
      That's probably the greatest lie perpetrated on the American people.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      As for the "precise explanation of mathematical concepts to be mere nitpicking"? Maybe it is, really? By that, I mean, most people are really only interested in learning math as long as it allows them to accomplish something.

      Unfortunately true. I work in a field (medical imaging) where certain complicated procedures can now be done by pushing the right button on a computer. So that's what the neuroscientists want to learn how to do - push the right button and get on with it. That will give you very nice,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:09PM (#40756051)

    Show me a teacher who's willing to give me a random, informative, 5-minute lecture, for free, with a 30-second lead time in my own bathroom and we can talk.

  • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:09PM (#40756059) Homepage

    This is article deriding free on-line math education written by a person who develops paid on-line math education.

    • Ad Hominem (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:21PM (#40756297) Journal

      This is article deriding free on-line math education written by a person who develops paid on-line math education.

      That sounds like an ad hominem. Motives aside, is the argument valid? One part of the article stood out to me:

      As a result, experienced educators have begun to push back against what they see as fundamental problems with Khan’s approach to teaching. In June, two professors from Grand Valley State University created their own video in [washingtonpost.com]which they pointed out errors in Khan’s lesson on negative numbers: not things they disagreed with, but things he got plain wrong. To his credit, Khan did replace the video. However, instead of using this as an opportunity to engage educators and improve his teaching, he dismissed the criticism.

      “It’s kind of weird,” Khan explained, “when people are nitpicking about multiplying negative numbers.”

      When asked why so many teachers have such adverse reactions to Khan Academy, Khan suggests it’s because they’re jealous. “It’d piss me off, too, if I had been teaching for 30 years and suddenly this ex-hedge-fund guy is hailed as the world’s teacher.”

      Why isn't Khan embracing criticism and review/removal/replacement of his videos by knowledgeable folks? I would be rewarding people proofing my many videos and trying to get more people doing that instead of dismissing it as "nitpicking."

      • It's certainly possible the arguments are valid, but I'm deeply skeptical of criticism about a product that's written by a competitor. Especially one who fails to note the conflict, as is customary in journalism.

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:10PM (#40756067)

    If the complaint about how "rise of run isn't a formal definition of slope" is indicative of the kinds of errors in his lectures, then I'd say Khan is right that the naysayers are just being picky. Yah, it's not perfectly accurate or a formal definition, but it's an excellent start to understanding a deeper understanding.

    An educators job should be to get people excited about a subject, not to present the most perfect, gods honest truth answers to everything. Anyone interested in a subject will go on to learn more, and find out the more nuanced and correct answers. If you've ever become an expert in any field, you know that everyone (including the best teachers) don't always have time or knowledge to give the best possible answers. That's OK, since education doesn't stop once the class stops.

    If your ultimate (and final) response when asked why you believe something is "because my teacher told me", then you really don't understand the subject matter very well at all.

  • Motivation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by silverhalide (584408) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:14PM (#40756177)

    Khan Academy is the greatest supplemental education resource I have ever seen. But, one thing it can't do is force you to sit down, block off an hour a day, and learn a subject. Let's face is, 95% of us do not have that motivation, especially where one tab away awaits an entire internet of distractions.

    Having a physical obligation, to an in-face person in a physical location to show up and learn something is an exceptionally powerful psychological motivational force and something that online education simply can't replace.

    But man, would have I killed to have Khan available when it came to exam time in high school and college.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:16PM (#40756205) Journal
    There is so much of accessible math theory locked behind the wall of algebra. Mathematics is BORING until you can show people WHY they are learning this. Most math classes i have taken are just total wrote calculation with no rhyme or reason. Its 'do it this way, you'll figure why out later'. When the 'later' is 2 years of math classes down the road, Khan's kinda got a point.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lorinc (2470890)

      Mathematics is BORING until you can show people WHY they are learning this

      Actually if you continue learning maths, there's a moment where they become interesting by themselves and not only for what you can do with it.

      If you didn't felt this, I guess you stopped too early, like when you stop reading a very good book because the first chapter was boring. Or maybe it's just not your kind (say, like some musical taste), whatever practical use it has or not.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:18PM (#40756253) Homepage Journal

    We need to be wary of Kahn Academy, but we have to be wary of "experts" that are condemning Kahn Academy as well.

    A lot of times the "experts" doing on the complaining in popular media are just as worthless as listening to your fat neighbor who is bitching over his beer on his porch. Most of the talking heads on TV are like this and more and more even the people that are high ranking in governmental and professional organizations are well is well. It's because they're better at bullshit then their "expert" subject.

    So.. as far as Kahn Academy, it's likely a little bit of both sides are right and both sides are wrong. You have "educators" that don't want to absorb different ideas and you have Kahn who is also a bit of an ass himself.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:19PM (#40756263) Homepage Journal
    Everyone hates to have their business made into a commodity, that's simple economics. Once it happens, you have to compete on cost alone and be hyper-efficient to make a buck. You can only stay above that if you have a clear and provable advantage over the commodity version, and such things are difficult to maintain as the quality of the commodity version improves.

    Look at this like Wikipedia. There are obvious quality problems, but Wikipedia keeps improving and getting larger, and if you're Microsoft Encarta, there's just no market for you any longer (thus, the first MS product actually killed by Open Source).

    The guild apprenticeship system really hated book-learning. Copyists really hated printing. Both of these were previous means to commoditize education. This is just more of the same.

    There will be tremendous economic repercussions from the further commoditization of education.

    Bruce

    • There is a difference between information delivery systems and education. Verbal instruction, demonstration, lectures, manuscripts, and books are all information delivery systems, and are subject to "commoditization" to some degree. Education is an individualized process.

      For something to be a commodity, it must be fungible, and education, an individualized process, is inherently not fungible. One recorded lecture may work for some people, a different one for other people. For some people, a recorded
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:25PM (#40756379)
    There should be exactly one goal in online education: to improve the quality of education. There is nothing else to discuss until that matter is settled, and it is nowhere near settled. "Transforming education" is only good if the transformation yields better education.

    Here in the USA, education has become almost exclusively a matter of vocational training. That has been extremely destructive to education and to the society that education serves (and make no mistake, what is bad for education is bad for society). We spend all our time teaching people formulaic approaches to problems, and almost never take the time to help students develop their intellect or their ability to develop new approaches to the problems they need to solve. If the Kahn academy is not addressing that problem, then it is not addressing the most important issue that faces education here.

    To put it another way, look at the state of computer education in schools. Students are taught how to use the prepackaged solutions that their school districts buy, and those students who dare to go beyond "here is how you make the font bigger" are often punished (you know, because they are dangerous hackers who know how to get a terminal opened on a system that is programmed to stop them from writing their own software). Even when we do bother to teach people to write software, we give them formulaic approaches to solving programming problems -- when I TA'd a CS101 course, the students were required to have their programs formatted in a specific way, to write their programs in a specific language, and my personal favorite rule, they were forbidden to use language features that they had not been taught about.

    I do not want to discredit online education, since it may very well enable a better approach in some topics (I doubt all -- one cannot really judge a sculpture without being able to see it first hand). However, given that I have not heard anyone express any alternative philosophy on education (it's purpose or how best to carry it out), I have doubts. If someone believes that education is about training people for a job, they are not likely to develop anything other than a vocational training program.
  • by Genda (560240) <marietNO@SPAMgot.net> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:26PM (#40756399) Journal

    By all means include teachers in the process, particularly passionate teachers with amazing results because they have something to say, something to share, and they can shape this thing into a better tool to serve humanity. To those who are concerned that its threatening your turf, get over it, technology hasn't even begun to threaten your turf. You want to shape the future, ride the wave, become a meaningful part of the change. Those of you just putting in time, because its your job, sorry, it may not be your job much longer. There are a ton of great teachers out there who will find a way to use this technology to improve their educational process, and teachers aren't going away any time soon. People like people to people interaction in educating their children, its how human beings are designed.

    That said, the only way to transform the vast majority of poor and suffering human beings on the planet is to bring enlightenment, and that takes education. What Khan is doing will change the world. Who cares if someone else designs the curriculum, and another person delivers the classes. The point is that anyone anywhere with an inexpensive tablet will soon be able to take their child from early grade school to college, at their own pace. Can anything be more important on the planet today. Hell, I'd love to have a few folks in D.C. sit through a few of those classes. We might get some sanity.

  • by rmcd (53236) * on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:30PM (#40756459)

    I think a debate about Khan's specific videos is beside the point. For years, people have been talking about online education and we got these dreadful videos of a professor lecturing, shot from the back of the room. Khan shows us a realistic vision of how online education can happen at reasonable cost. It will not necessarily replace the teachers, but it will replace a teacher who repeats the same material multiple times a day. And it will help to level the playing field.

    People in universities are talking a lot about is the "flipped classroom", which means the lecture is online and clarification and working of problems occur in the classroom. This model is most obviously applicable to STEM classes, and if you haven't been following the developments, this site at NC State [ncsu.edu] offers an overview of what's going on with one kind of flipped classroom and where it's happening. The University of Minnesota has recently made a huge investment in this kind of classroom.

    Whatever happens with Khan specifically, he's energized a process of transformation that everyone knew had to happen eventually. Kudos to him.

  • Khan Needs Guidence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KalvinB (205500) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @05:31PM (#40756487) Homepage

    I've used Khan Academy in the classroom a few times for Algebra 1 when doing my student teaching. While the video was playing my mentor says to me "it's so boring" and I said "I know, but they're addicted to TV so they're watching it." For one lesson I came up with what I thought was a great way to teach multiplying polynomials and I said to myself, if Khan doesn't teach it this was, I'm not showing the video. Turns out, he had the same idea so I showed the video. The students got it. But not without me running through a few examples and reiterating the prior knowledge that makes it "nothing new" to them. The video is nice way to introduce the material the first time, but it needs to be repeated by the teacher to make sure everyone in the class gets it.

    At one point the video says "I'm going to use magenta because it shows up well." The students in the room were about to yell out "NO STOP IT!" because magenta does not show up when using a video projector in a classroom. Khan also makes jokes to which I pointed out "as a teacher I'm responding to you and making adjustments in response to your feedback, Khan is talking to himself and has no idea what's going on."

    I now do tutoring and for my student I have him using Khan Academy. I can see what the site can't. For example, the student is decent at math but his handwriting sucks which is normal. Khan Academy can't see that. I can, so now I have the student work problems using 1/2" grid paper with one number per box. His handwriting is improving and silly mistakes are going down dramatically.

    At best, Khan is a supplement to the classroom. It's not a replacement. My goal as a tutor is to get students to understand how to use it to improve their remedial math skills so I can focus on teaching them the new things. When school gets back in session I'll be tutoring a lot more students and working with them using Khan Academy to guide the material as well as working with their current material assigned by their teachers when available.

    When I start teaching full time, most likely next fall, I'll be pushing Khan Academy but will not use it in the classroom. It's great for remedial work. It's not for classrooms. And it's certainly no substitute for a teacher.

  • by jrminter (1123885) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @06:30PM (#40757495)

    As a couple of others have noted, there is no reason to posit a false dichotomy - that one must use either Kahn Academy (or similar) or a "live" teacher. Short lessons like Kahn does are useful to review concepts/unit operations where a student is rusty. My wife teaches physics, statistics, and calculus at a small high school and is an adjunct at a local community college, teaching the CC classes in the high school. The best bang for the buck for college credits around. Anyway, her biggest complaint is that too many of her students have been coddled in lower level classes and have either never mastered the pre-requisites or simply not retained them. Kahn's videos are one of many helpful resources for such students. The goal is to transform students into self-directed, life-long learners. This is really the only path to success, because the half-life to obsolescence of any technical course of study is so short.

    Prof. Jean-Claude Bradly at Drexel discovered that students actually preferred pod/vodcasts of lectures (they could pause and watch on their schedule) and it freed up class time to work problems and answer questions. I see Kahn Academy videos in this same light. Are they perfect? No. can they be improved? Yes. Will polite, constructive criticism be better received than snarky comments? Absolutely! In this regard, the cliche "everything i needed to know, i learned in kindergarten" has some merit - things are a lot better when everybody is polite and plays nice in the sandbox.

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