This week I learnt about the Khan Academy; a free online learning school covering a variety of topics. It was created back in 2006 by Salman Khan and was developed following a couple of years of using online tools to tutor his cousin in mathematics.
I caught an episode of BBC click this morning where they were looking at how the Khan Academy was being used in the American classroom. There appeared to be positive results from this style, pupils that did not get along with the traditional methods of teaching were finding this new, collaborative but competitive style more successful.
There also appears to be an element of gamification to the academy; although there are mixed feelings on this I can see big benefits of getting pupils to compete against one another for the latest calculus badge!
Early this week I attended a dinner at the University of Winchester, on my table were professors discussing the use of technology and how this will change the methods of teaching in the classroom. We discussed greater use of tablet devices and information videos seeing their way into classrooms; making time in the class more of a collaborative effort by ensuring pupils are working together to understand and solve problems as well as understanding the benefits of technology. Perhaps something like the Khan Academy will play a big part in shaping higher education teaching methods?
The Khan Academy has moved from the usual 30 pupils in a classroom to millions, all over the world. On average his website is reaching four million pupils every month. Thinking back to the days when I was at school, it must be difficult to have to teach at one level to a mixed ability of pupils. I was lucky to have a father that was highly involved in my education and enjoyed Maths homework but I probably wasn’t in the majority. Something like the Khan Academy approach would help to support teachers – keep the advanced pupils engaged and offer a different style of teaching for the pupils that were struggling with the traditional classroom methods.
So with technology making education more accessible and interactive and professors looking for new ways to engage their pupils, is this a taste of the educational future?