Khan academy resources

This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Teresa MacKinnon 6 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #21223

    Teresa MacKinnon

    I have always found maths challenging so this seemed like a good place to investigate the learner perspective on learning resources.

    I started with something very basic to evaluate the way it was presented:

    – the expression of place value. I would have learned this so many years ago I don’t remember how it was presented to me at the time! The video was clear and contextualised (to an extent) as days since my birthday and using the tally system then re-expressing this as a number of tens and units. So far so straightforward.  I then decided to explore something more complex, logarithms, last visited when I was 16, over 30 years ago.

    No contextualisation this time, this video already assumed a good level of familiarity with the subject matter. Frankly, I learned nothing from either of these examples and I can identify several important factors that have to be taken into consideration with this sort of resource.


    • The videos are really a digital version of chalk and talk. Granted I have a grandstand view rather then struggling to see and listen and take notes at the same time. I have a degree of control – I can pause, use google to get further examples and take my time working on my understanding. I can roll back to an earlier related resource to add context to support my understanding. But fundamentally i am getting the same thing as I would in a classroom – one person’s voice as they show what they can do (and I can’t).
    • The language used is rarely rarely explained in plain English, assumptions are made about the terminology used and I have to acquire a metalanguage in order to access the concepts. This is a process of acculturation to a mathematical way of doing things, which I accept is necessary but is maintaining my position of comparative weakness rather than enthusing me for a subject i am already fearful of.
    • There were no opportunities to interact with the content, this was just passive consumption of knowledge transfer. At several points I wondered why voice was necessary at all for these clips, maybe a demo that I then tried to figure out would have been more stimulating, especially if there were others I could question and share with.
    • I was looking at these resources with no really need to access the knowledge, no particular purpose to put the knowledge to. Therefore there was no greater reason for my viewing than to inform my critique of the resource.

    My conclusions therefore are:

    The visual and control aspects may make such resources useful consolidation for learners who do have a reason to acquire the concepts. They would be inappropriate for the insecure learner without additional scaffolding by a teacher who can provide support on the metalanguage and ensure that they are accessed at the appropriate time. The sheer volume of content could be really off putting otherwise. The resources are clearly open access and re-usable although it could be argued that the use of American English could be confusing for some. To improve: Using them in a social context eg. playing the video without sound and getting learners to explain what they think is happening) could improve the learning experience further. Interactive exercises to test what I retained would be useful and would give me feedback as to whether I had understood the demonstrations.



  • #21511

    Julie Tardy

    Thanks for that Teresa, way more articulate than what I did about Khan on my blog.

    Anyway i looked at Biology resources and was compelled to find a video about Intelligent Design, that was it for me. Might have decent vids but I’d careful as how to recommend it then.

  • #21826

    Teresa MacKinnon

    Thanks for your feedback Julie. I guess like all resources – including those from the days of printed handouts and books – the skill lies in the selection and use. or as Bananarama sang so eloquently – it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it 🙂

  • #21828

    Moira Maley

    I thought that was … its not what you do it with but what you do with it  but perhaps that’s the same.  🙂

  • #21876

    Julie Tardy

    Yes definitely agree with Bananarama quote!

  • #22493

    Teresa MacKinnon

    Just for fun!

  • #24949


    My evaluation of Khan Academy video I watched

  • #25060

    Teresa MacKinnon

    Hi Tharindu, I enjoyed reading your blog post. You make a very good (and often overlooked) point about the pragmatics of asking a school network to handle large volumes of data synchronously. Having taught in schools for many years I can certainly recognise bandwidth as an issue even in the UK! Adaptive streaming systems may help. Sometimes mobile access over a phone or tablet for example can be preferable, perhaps outside the classroom so that the information can be accessed at the point of need. Thanks too for your kind words about my post.

    I also like your point about different modes of delivery. I think podcasts are often overlooked. Short audio explanations can be really useful especially in my subject (language learning) and when combined with simple visuals and perhaps a mechanism for asking questions (online forum etc) really effective.


  • #26098


    I have been reading about Rocketship academies in the US, and it seems as though they are using these Khan Academy resources to support their classroom based provision, to make a blended learning approach.

    I think your evaluation suggests that this is probably a great resource if it supplements your maths class, and you have a teacher on hand to support you. Yes, your Bananarama quote is very apt here – just telling someone to go away and watch this kind of video may not be helpful, but using a section as part of a wider activity could be very beneficial.

    Personally I found the chalk and talk videos did not motivate me – I seem to have a special loathing for educational videos, which is really what these are. I can take up to about 5 minutes of video, then I need to do something else! There must be other learners like me…

  • #26101

    Teresa MacKinnon

    I agree Jo, a 5 minute video clip is enough!

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