Khan Academy – evolution video

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    As my college includes an Animal Care department, I choose to look at “An Introduction to Evolution and Natural Selection”  -

    While I had heard of The Khan Academy before, this is the first time I have investigated their resources. What grabbed me from the off was the number of comments on the page. Ok, so a lot of the discussion was focused on religion vs science, but it was discussion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see groups of students coming out of traditional classes and sitting debating the issues unless they’re forced. So the videos are proved to be engaging. My first thought is that its the input of technology and all the pros and cons that go with it – easier to be anonymous, instant interaction etc. Then there’s the fact that we’re seeing enthusiasm from people who have chosen to watch the video – we dont have input from those who chose something else. But I think that’s the point. If we’re going to talk of student-led education then we have to give them materials to chose from. Different formats, different topics, scope to explore, expand and make leaps. My point here? That the Khan Academy appeals to many because it covers a wide variety of subjects.

    As for the individual videos, they’re simple. The action on screen doesn’t overreach the speaker. The speaker keeps the language simple and if there is a need to use higher level vocabulary it is explained to the listener. There’s humour. The diagrams make you think ‘I could draw that’, subconsciously leading you to ‘If I could draw it then I can understand it’ which is positive reinforcement of the learning process.

    And its only an introduction. They keep to one point. If you choose to move on to a related topic you move to another video. So you progress at your own rate to a level you are comfortable with. I can see where a video like this instigates interest and encourages the listener to continue to the next video. It’s like the soaps and their cliff hangers. We don’t do that in the classroom – we don’t entice you to come back. Or at least no class I’ve ever participated in has.

    There’s definite potential to blend these videos into classroom work, into assignment work or as additional materials on VLEs etc for stretch and challenge type activities outside of the classroom. And they’re useful to other tutors to because with youtube’s automatic embedding code, videos like this can be easily combined with technologies already in place. And for tutors still nervous of technology, there’s comfort in the Youtube name. For students to I guess.

    And we’re back to sharing – it’s easy to tweet, email or even facebook a link to a video that you’ve made use of and want to tell classmates about.

    What I dont see is a way to ask questions. There’s presumably something within the Khan Academy website that would facilitate that, but I haven’t had a chance to explore that far. I did however notice that the  website setup does allow for online badges for proof of participation etc. (I think anyone undertaking OCTEL can see where badges come into the learning process!).

    I’m going to stop there. I need to think more on different methods for building these materials into learning and then I might come back and comment again!

    See you later!

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