February 1, 2012
video sharing

The Con Academy

Rest assured, I am not against The Khan Academy … at least not entirely.

There are several reasons to celebrate what its founder, Sal Khan, and the team have done:

    • A discussion about ‘flipping the classroom’ (as the Economist helped point out) has become mainstream, if not a healthy obsession
    • Outlets such as TED, Charlie Rose and even Stephen Colbert have helped push the topic of education reform to the masses by interviewing or showcasing Sal Khan
    • Videos and learning have become an essential component of the learning cycle; as opposed to some form of babysitting tool. See this short video for an example
    • Even vendors like Cisco are producing white papers outlining the benefits of video in education

Where I take umbrage with The Khan Academy is its inability to properly position what it is doing in the education space.

Theirs is one of prevaricate, not truth.

I’m also not alone.

See examples 1, 2, 3 and 4.

That stated, I don’t want to stop the brilliant work they are doing.

I don’t’ want this post to come off like a jealous diabolical rant either.

What I simply implore The Khan Academy to do going forward is quite simple:

    • Stop suggesting you are reinventing education. You are positively complimenting it.
    • Start positioning Khan Academy as supplemental reinforcement or didactic introduction.
    • Add pre and post learning elements to the videos that assist curriculum lineage or linkage
      • (ie. recommend other related learning assets that further the learning be it websites, articles, other videos, simulations, exercises, games, etc.)

These steps, in my opinion, will serve not only your organization’s future better, but it will properly align expectations of students, parents, teachers and administrators.

The Khan Academy is great. It is not, however, the reinvention of education.

That, unfortunately, is both naïve and incorrect.

The Khan Academy is in a wonderful situation to actually help in the transformation of the learning experience and thus the learning cycle. It is in a position of strength to help enable a better schooling experience.

The reinvention occurs when our classrooms become melting pots of collaborative-based interdisciplinary learning using formal, informal and social means. It occurs when we truly tear down the walls.

It does not occur solely through the use of your video-based lectures, reporting and badges.

Otherwise, you will remain The Con Academy in my books.

3 Replies to “The Con Academy”

  1. My 8th grade son is using Khan Academy to learn the skills needed to test out of high school classes. He is taking Alg. 1 in 8th grade, but is now working on Geomentry.
    His plan is to test out of anything the school will let him test on.
    He’s figuring most of his senior year will be college courses which will save $10-$20k of college expenses.

  2. Interesting post Dan – should (hopefully) spark some good discussion.

    Now what I want to hear are people’s thoughts on Udacity…(or is it too early yet to start that conversation?)

  3. @Dana – thanks for dropping by. I’m glad your son is reaping benefit from Khan. As I’ve stated, I don’t have issue with the product, per se, but with the positioning and lineage. How will your son save money on college? Won’t the college still want to charge full tuition for the credits it takes to complete a degree, whether there is advance-standing or not?

    @Carrie – interesting you raise Udacity. My thoughts on that are publishing here on Monday.

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