My last blog post entitled, “Sal Khan is Good, But You Are Probably Better.” saw a lot of action. Khan inspires debate in the Education community. He is a nonprofit version of the classic startup success story. I might suggest that Khan’s story is congruent with the American rags to riches allegory – with the obvious exception that Khan was already rich, and is not getting much more so with this nonprofit enterprise. But it is similar in one way. Even simple ideas, doggedly pursued, if they are unique, can be wildly successful. I suspect for this reason alone, Khan has a fan-base that includes a great many entrepreneurs.
Khan’s critics are never critics of Sal Khan. Like me, they are critics of a society that is so pessimistic about it’s public education, that it becomes obsessed with the unintentional red herring.
Lectures are an important method of instruction, but they are the least important. Frank Noschese, a strong proponent of constructivist education and award winning education blogger, calls this traditional method of instruction and all of it’s accoutrements, like note-taking and recitation, psuedoteaching. Traditional didactic instruction is psuedoteaching because it fails to engage critical thinking, and is therefore not much better than no teaching at all.
Certainly, you took a college class or two or ten with a boring professor whose lectures you rarely attended. But you read the textbook, did the assignments, and may very well have scored high marks in the class. For many students, didactic instruction inspires very little learning; at least, no more than most people can accomplish with a book on their own.
How is this an EdTech post? Thanks for hanging in there. In this blog post on Ed Reach, Daniel Rezac discusses his response to Khan’s videos. Daniel decided to do as Khan has done, but his videos have more pizzazz. I am glad to see that Khan’s work has inspired a movement; or at least one guy and his friends. But the part of Daniel’s work that probably has the most value for his students is when he has them make their own instructional videos.
The making of a video is a significant learning event. To teach something you must move farther toward mastery than if you read it, hear it, or watch it. Most teachers already know this. One obvious problem is that it takes a lot of time, even with imovie and a simple digital camcorder, to make a good video.
My challenge to the EdTech community, then, is this. Build us a video making application that requires all of the analytical choices necessary to tell a story, but none of the logistical ones. Oh, and make sure that any video my students make can be completed in half an hour. One last thing.. I’d really like to have that by September, when school starts.