Tech Doesn't Teach… But it can Help

Kahn Academy and the Flipped Classroom

From the article on Kahn Academy’s new iPad app:

For the growing number of schools that are adopting iPads, the most impactful potential for the app is for Khan Academy’s “flipped classroom,” in which lectures are watched at home by students, and then assignments are completed collaboratively in class, where a teacher is present. “The teacher is free to do a lot more of the human interaction,” says Shantanu Sinha, President and COO of Khan Academy.

The idea of a flipped classroom is an excellent use of new technology. This enables the lecture part of the course to be delivered at a time that is convenient for the student and retains ALL of the in-class time for questions or other interactive engagements that actually use the professor’s time for the greatest return. The assumption is that most lecturing is one-way communication. If this is true, then there is no need for it to happen in the classroom at all. Lectures should just be taped and distributed. Students watch the lectures when they want to and then come in to class prepared to ask questions.

In my mind, this could work out extraordinarily well IF everyone buys into the idea and students actively engage. I’ve had classes where students engage a lot and I can imagine this working seamlessly. But I’ve also taught classes where I stood in front of the room and couldn’t pull anything from my students if my life depended on it.

Nevertheless, this technique is new, exciting, offers something new with technology that couldn’t be done without it and may actually usher in a new way to make education work.

I’m eager to look into Kahn academy’s material and see if there’s anything I can learn there and if there is anything that I can potentially use in my own classroom.

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