Making Curriculum Pop

MC POPPER Beverly Stout wrote me about this - she's not a math person so I'm posting on her behalf.  When I looked more carefully at the material it is really a math, science, econ and "new" technology story as it talks about online education across the globe.

Check out this short PBS story... 

Math + story = powerful.  All lecture on a digital blackboard = meh.  Short lectures = good idea! 

Would love to know what the other folks think below...

You can go to the Khan Academy channel @ YouTube - here's a blurb & video from the NewsHour website...

A 33-year-old math and science whiz kid -- working out of his house in California's Silicon Valley -- may be revolutionizing how people all over the world will learn math. He is Salman Khan, and until a few months ago he made his living as a hedge fund analyst. But he's become a kind of an unseen rock star in the online instruction field, posting 1200 lessons in math and science on YouTube, none of them lasting more than about 10 minutes. He quit his job at the hedge fund to devote full time to his Khan Academy teaching efforts, which he does essentially for free.

Khan explained how the U.S. unemployment rate is calculated in a NewsHour exclusive video.

So you can read the whole story about Mr. Khan, a math and science graduate of MIT with an MBA from Harvard at this news hour feature.

Discuss away...

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Replies to This Discussion

Perhaps I picked the wrong first video to look at, but I saw one of his SAT or ACT math problem explanations and was underwhelmed, to put it mildly. He didn't even appear as if he'd really given the problem a lot of thought.
Yeah, I haven't really watched much beyond this unemployment video above - made sense, solid narrative, but didn't look great. Maybe if he gets Pixar to invest in him and a bunch of educators to help him out?
Please let me know which of Khan's videos underwhelmed you.  I think most are just fine.
Most all of them that I checked out - I mean as monologues they are interesting but basically they are messy and as many an expert on cognition will tell you "telling is not teaching." That said, I hardly spent a lot of time with them and I'm sure they are helpful for a lot of students who come from print rich environments. This is my guess based on my gut NOT a careful study of the videos in question.
"Math + story = powerful."

I agree, but where's the story? I see totally boring "how to do this" kinds of lectures, at least in the quick sampling I viewed.

Not to mention outright errors like "This matrix, or table of numbers" ... um, no. He's trying to define matrix multiplication, and basically saying "it's an arbitrary rule that turns out to have applications", but that's exactly the opposite of the true situation, which is "there are applications that motivate this rule". Instead it's just a bunch of memorization of rules and practice with arithmetic involving matrices that mean nothing. Junk. (I looked at the linear algebra lectures on multiplying matrices, since that's a place where it's easy to see the difference between teaching algorithms and teaching math.)

"All lecture on a digital blackboard = meh."

Agree, totally dis-engaging to watch for that reason.

"Short lectures = good idea!"

Would be good if they were really short! These are up around 15 minutes. Could be "Example and introduction" "Example of noncommutativity", etc., breaking them down to more like 5 minutes, which would be a lot more useful.

And he's clearly not prepped, not even to the point of writing down the examples he's going to use ahead of time - he makes a lot of simple copying errors and so on that he'd never make with some notes in front of him. What's the point of showing only the blackboard if you're not even going to be looking at some notes while you work?

Summary: I don't see why people are so impressed by this.

It's sort of the same as I feel about - a great idea, but it's being used just to distribute the usual standard junk in a more efficient way. And with the relative low prices, they can't really afford good editors, and that shows, just like it does in these videos.

It's not that these things are bad, just that they're not good either, and they have the huge advantage of being free, and the drawback of perpetuating the misconception that this is the state of the art in teaching these days.

Thanks for jumping in the discussion - yeah, I only watched the sample unemployment video that I thought did a nice job of attaching numbers to an economic story - but at the end it looked like spazzy notes on a lite-bright board.

I did not spend time with all his math videos - I love your statement "It's not that these things are bad, just that they're not good either"

That hits the nail on the head, eh but then the problem is the general public and the "culture of education" as perceived by policy makers really think this is some revolutionary stuff...

I always tell the teachers I work with that the "culture of education" is the biggest hurdle they will face because most parents / students think if you read lots, write lots and listen to lectures you're "working hard" and "learning."

At any rate, thanks for taking the time to dig deeper on this - "meh" would be appropriate if this wasn't something people in DC will think is brilliant. Wonder what we can do to stop that from happening.
It fits in with a thread I've been following on several SF authors blogs lately. They point out that a lot of idiots keep saying that the publishing industry is obsolete - you can just self-publish online, there will be ebooks so no need for printing, warehousing, distributing, getting space on bookstore shelves, and so on.

The fact is that editors and copyeditors and marketers and all that are still incredibly useful.

The counterargument is that if you want the services of some of those people, you can contract with them yourself.

But the response to that is that it's a pain. So maybe we should have a central place that coordinates those folks. Oh, wait, that's called a publisher.

The point is that there's a huge push toward self-publishing and internet publishing as though it makes content free. But you still need to get the time of someone highly talented to make the stuff, and the editors, and all that ... unless you just want pap.
So true, god knows I'd love an editor!! Any blogs in particular worth checking out re: this issue?
John Scalzi and Charles Stross both have blogs that are good in general, if you're into SF, and both have had recent very good posts about the publishing industry.
Do you have the URLs for those posts?
Scalzi: soon-a-deeply-slanted-play-in-three-acts/
and maybe

Stross: (the second post of a series, and the most on-topic for this discussion).

You can probably find some more good stuff by following links in those posts and their comments, too.
Thanks J to the Z!



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