After reading a post on Will Richardson’s site (http://willrichardson.com/post/33950726644/the-khanification-of-education), I was very interested to take a look at the video link he included. The video, posted by NextLabEvents, is a flashy introduction to some new talent in the educational video business. The "online educators" in the video, like the people at Khan Academy, are developing their own brand of educational videos for consumption via YouTube (or perhaps their own websites, I cannot say that I have checked). It seems that Khan Academy is merely the harbinger of what is to come on educational programming.
As Will R. states in his post, I too have some reservations about this new “educational opportunity” for students. There are two big points that I see for people in today’s education industry to discuss. The first was covered by Will (so go read his post), and it concerns the experience and ability of these teachers. The crux of this point is that the definition of “educator” is being challenged. Those teachers who have spent years perfecting their craft, learning how to work with students, and providing a support system for students who need further assistance cannot be found in a video. It’s almost as if the online video method is a “cliff notes” version of delivery: you get the minimum of what you need for the narrow scope of material presented per video.
But what about those questions asked in class that extend the subject further? What about questions regarding any part of the material, period? Does the teacher have the responsibility of watching these videos and clarifying what is going to be important for classroom discussions and assessments? Further (and on to point 2), what about a concept in the video that contains incorrect content?
I believe there should be a serious concern over the actual content delivered. First, the content must be checked and updated. I’m sure this happens, and I believe it to be easier to make changes necessary because there isn’t a textbook to revise and re-publish. So the updates can be instant.
The second part of this content concern is more, well, disconcerting. The content that a website like Khan Academy delivers is procedure-based. There is not a lot of creative, “I wonder” material that comes from the various education-video sites. But this understood since there is no dialog ability within the video environments (I’m sorry, but commenting on a video doesn’t cut it). For a student to learn, the procedures and facts are only the tip of the iceberg. I really feel bad for those kids that are interested to learn more, but are limited to the content delivered. Even if they can go further in the content, they can’t “pave their own path”. So let’s say a child goes to these sites to watch and learn more. With whom can she create a dialog about the material but her teacher? (This brings up a whole other conversation about comprehensive preparation by teachers in the classroom.) There has to be a support structure in place for these videos. I think that is the next part of the wave; however, as of right now I’m not seeing that development. Everyone wants to get his or her face on YouTube and push his or her content delivery. What should be delivered is the whole package, from procedures to practice to “I wonder” conversations.
I applaud the efforts of these content providers using dynamic new styles of delivery. It’s fun and interesting, and quite frankly “steal worthy” for some of the lessons I like to have in my own classroom. However, I don’t think a video will ever replace what I can give to a child as a teacher-coach who will continuously encourage them to do more. That is a mission no video can fulfill.
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