Friday, March 18, 2011

The combination of a strong teacher with Khan Academy - too good to be true?

A pilot program of "blended" or "hybrid" instruction that brings Khan Academy into the classroom:
To teach mathematics, schools in Los Altos, California, are piloting use of Khan Academy videos and online tools, which have replaced traditional textbooks and homework in two fifth-grade and two seventh-grade classrooms. Teachers say the change has brought huge benefits.
Here's a full description from the lasdandkhanacademy blog.
In Los Altos School District, we are constantly striving to improve instruction to meet the needs of all learners and prepare all K-8 students to thrive in our rapidly changing global community. In the continual quest to improve instruction, we are investigating new instructional delivery models and are currently piloting the use of Khan Academy as a hybrid-learning model in a few math classes across the district (two 5th grade classes, and two 7th grade pre-algebra readiness classes). In our pilot, Khan Academy is being utilized as a complement to our current math program.
The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere. It currently consists of over 1800 videos covering content in math and science one concept at a time. Concepts are arranged on a “Knowledge Map” which builds from the most basic mathematical concept to more complex concepts covered in high school calculus. Each concept is presented in digestible 10-15 minute video segments followed by practice exercises and tutorials. The software suggests next steps for students and provides teachers with a wealth of individualized student data on both concepts mastered and areas of struggle. With the use of Khan Academy as a hybrid-learning model, students are able to work through new material at their own pace during a portion of every math class. Teachers are able to use the data generated through Khan Academy to group students according to their instructional need and provide targeted math instruction.
Piloting Khan Academy provides us a unique opportunity to explore 21st century learning with our students by leveraging technology to differentiate instruction to meet the individualized learning needs of all students. We are fortunate to have formed a phenomenal partnership with Khan Academy and are excited by the potential differentiated learning opportunities for students that will develop as a result of this partnership.
The foregoing description is full of flowery edu-jargon, but there's no denying that Khan provides a superb way to track individual student progress.

Teachers and coaches can access all of their students' data. You can get a summary of class performance as a whole or dive into a particular student's profile to figure out exactly which topics are problematic. The class profile lets coaches glance at their dashboard and quickly figure out how to best spend their time teaching.
We've put a lot of energy into making sure that the Khan Academy empowers teachers by giving them access to the data they should've had for years. You'll know instantly if a student is struggling in multiplying fractions...or if she hit a streak and is now far ahead of the class.
But can the Los Altos School District gain efficiency and raise achievement levels?  A quick search found this meta-analysis:
The United States Department of Education reported recently that it's found some evidence to support the notion that blended learning is more effective than either face to face or online learning by themselves. Further, between online and face to face instruction, online is at least as good and may even have the advantage in terms of improving student achievement and potentially expanding the amount of time (and quality time) students spend learning.
Powerful potential - Here are some pulls from Bill Gates' appearance on NBC Nightly News.
The cutting edge of where education is going...
Kids like to move at their own pace...
We need to do a better job...
Teachers will always be important.  What Sal’s engaged in right now is working with teachers to see where they can use his material to relieve them of a lot of things And his interactive parts can track and the teachers can see is this kid behind, is this kid ahead.  It can help the teacher organize the class.  So the power of a combination of a strong teacher together with these resources, I see that as making a huge difference.
From The Gates Notes, here are some videos of Los Altos school administrators, teachers and students talking about the Khan Academy pilot.

And, Khan Academy is FREE! 

(I haven't read this yet, but here's more on blended learning:


  1. C. spent a lot of quality time with Mr. Khan tonight.


    Did I tell you Khan got an SAT problem wrong?

    C. and I were pretty stunned. We both got the answer wrong, then Khan got the exact same wrong answer we got.