Is the Educational Revolution About Videos: Ted-Ed and Khan Academy?
The Ted-Ed website was introduced today and received a lot of press coverage:
- The Atlantic: The Digital Education Revolution, Cont’d: Meet TED-Ed’s New Online Learning Platform
- Fast Company:
- Mashable: TED’s New Site Turns Any YouTube Video Into a Lesson
- Forbes: TED-Ed Hits the Classroom with New Video Website
Prior to going into my critique of this so-called educational revolution, I am giving this disclaimer, I love TED and love the videos being produced by Ted-Ed.
Khan Academy and the new Ted-Ed website are being touted to create an educational revolution. What I am concerned about is the underlying pedagogy of Ted-Ed and Khan Academy. I love listening to a good talk and talking about it afterwards, but does it change my thoughts and/or behavior? Typically not. Grant Wiggins’ recent post, Everything you know about curriculum may be wrong. Really discusses this point:
The point of learning is not just to know things but to be a different person – more mature, more wise, more self-disciplined, more effective, and more productive in the broadest sense.
In the flipped classroom, as it is being discussed, the videos, instead of a live teacher, are at the core of the learning process, become the venue for the didactic presentation. The explanation of the flipped classroom provided on the Ted-Ed website . . .
The [flipped classroom] refers to a method of instruction where classroom-based teaching time and traditional “homework” time are reversed (flipped). A teacher provides video lessons to be reviewed outside of class, which in turn gives teachers more time in class to focus on higher-order learning skills.
. . . and from the Mashable article:
When a teacher flips the classroom, they assign lectures to watch at home and save class time for working on homework together. When a teacher flips a video, they add supplemental content such as questions and additional resources.
The TED-Ed website has a suite of tools that allow teachers to design their own web-assisted curricula, complete with videos, comprehension-testing questions, and conversational tools. The Think and Digging Deeper questions are, I assume, prompts or guides for the higher level thinking. The use of lectures, quizzes, and questions to teach and for students to demonstrate learning is a Eurocentric, consumption-based model of education. There is value in linguistic-oriented and Socratic method (adding reflective questions and discussion) of teaching but it does not honor learning-by-doing. Tinkering and experimenting; engaging in the arts; going out into the community; tapping into students’ talents, interests and passions are not part learning process.
Harvard Professor Chris Dede believes of the flipped classroom . . .
I think that the flipped classroom is an interesting idea if you want to do learning that is largely based on presentation. You use presentation outside of the classroom. Then you do your understanding of the presentation and further steps from the presentation inside the classroom. I think it is a step forward. It is still, in my mind, the old person. It’s still starting with presentational learning and then trying to sprinkle some learning-by-doing on top of it. I am interested more in moving beyond the flipped classroom to learning by doing at the center than a kind of the intermediate step that still centers on largely on tacit assimilation (https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/flipped-classroom-full-picture-an-example-lesson/).
I proposed The Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture as a way to get educators’ attention given the press this model is receiving. I did so in an attempt to encourage educators take the resources and opportunities that technology (including the use of videos) affords to truly create a learning revolution, one that is constructivist, student-centric, hands-on, and passion-based.
So are Sal Khan and Ted-Ed initiatives really going to disrupt education, create a learning revolution? It sounds a bit like Thomas Edison’s thoughts about how film would change education.
It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years. (http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/02/15/books-obsolete/)
I do see a use for high production, high interest videos but to support a student’s learning not to direct it. There is where the flipped classroom and the Ted-Ed, Khan, and other videos have value – to reinforce and add to a student’s learning – not be central to it. TED is about ideas worth sharing. I am curious if the kids, after being directed through the Ted-Ed lessons, will develop and spread their own ideas with their peers.