Bullet points about the news post about …

Bullet points about the news post about Khan Academy

  • Free online education , available in video form, with other things added on (tests, visualization of results, etc)
  • A more fitting way to learn, because the system caters for each student’s needs specifically, with feedback
  • The site will be expanding to cover more subjects and possibilities. It has received backing from both the Gates foundation and Google.

After getting 10 minutes of experience, I found the Khan system to be very simple and easy to use. From the viewpoint of a person who learns Maths in the IB, Khan academy is really useful for extra revision outside of  class.  Another thing to note, is that for students who aren’t native speakers of english, solving problems in english could familiarize you with some of the language invlovled in solving maths exercises. This could severely cut down on situations where the instructions  on a test are not understandable. The system is not yet evolved enough to completely replace a teacher, however. The analysis of answers and solutions is top-notch, but the available videos might not completely explain the topic as per the specific needs of a student. There is, however a button to show you the working of a specific exercise, but that is in no way completely foolproof.  All in all, the system right now is a good way to brush up on your skillz, or to make yourself comfortable with some type of exercise. Learning something completely new, however, could have some downfalls. When the system integrates more specific feedback and more specific instructions for stuck students, it could be implemented in schools full time.

Hardware and software required to implement Khan
There are several variables that come into play when implementing any sort of digital learning methods. First of all, computers with internet access are required to get anything working at all. This should not prove to be too difficult of an obstacle to overcome, as most schools in Estonia already have computer classrooms and the necessary facilities. A few minor details to consider are the availability of headphones, in the classroom for when a student needs to watch a video. Speakers will not work for obvious reasons. As mentioned before, the necessary facilities are already present in almost all schools in Estonia. Some changes will have to be made though. For example, creating specific classrooms for internet based studying, for example large auditoriums with tens of computers so that large classes might study in the same room. This is because some sort of teacher supervision is still necessary in the classroom, for when a student needs help with the system, or  with a specific task. As such, teachers also have to be schooled in use of the system.
From the software point of view, necessities are a rather small problem as well. Directly, all that is needed is  a internet browser, like Mozilla Firefox and  flash so that the necessary apps might run. Seeing as how these things are freely available on the internet, the necessary software is very easy to get, and easy to implement.
Conclusively, the things needed to implement the system are widely available and easy to use

About the possible impact on the education system.

Living in an age where technology is slowly taking over every aspect of our lives, the possible impact of online studying possibilities is huge. There are several issues in today’s education system, which online study possibilities like Khan Academy could remedy.

First of all, the issue of individual feedback. In a class of, let’s say, 30 people, it is very difficult  for a teacher to cater for each student’s individual needs. the implementation of Khan academy could make it  easier for the teacher to see a pupil’s shortcomings, and easier yet to fix these problems. A system where the student first does an exercise, looks at an explanatory video if need be, then moves on adds steps before the teacher actually has to intervene in the student’s style of studying. As an extension, the teacher only has to intervene when it is absolutely necessary. This cuts down  on the amount work the teacher has to do, allowing her to work more effectively in the places where help is needed. After implementing this system class sizes could be increased, because the teacher could cater for all the students more effectively.

The second, and rather obvious, change which the academy could bring about, is the availability of education. As mentioned before, with the workload of the teacher minimized, the classes could be bigger. More kids could get educated. This is also true outside of school. Because the only things needed to use Khan, are a working computer and an internet connection. People not attending school could also put the system to use in countries with a bad, or nonexistent educational system. Furthermore, the system could be used to supplement the already existing education. It is a great tool for brushing up on one’s skillz before exam or whenever. Needless to say, when the classroom and the teacher aren’t compulsory anymore, the possibilities are immense.
While not completely ready to replace the modern educational system, sites like Khan are a great supplement.  In the bigger picture, it could make existing education better (that is, more thorough) and expand the reach of a working educational system. No doubt, great things are to come if this new area is explored upon.

Social concerns
In addition to the large impact it could make on the educational system, the system also has a few setbacks.
Most importantly, the lack of social interaction. School is just as much about studying and learning as it is about learning to socialize and work together with different types of people.
So, it is rather obvious that learning over the web would exclude any sort of social activities, which are commonplace at school. The the main objective of a school, is to prepare it’s students for further life. This includes teaching kids how to socialize, respect authority and cooperate with people, as well as  working under pressure. Kids who learn completely in an online environment might miss out on those experiences and be unprepared when they eventually have to get a real job somewhere. This is an especially big concern among estonians, who are already considered to be somewhat asocial and lacking in the field.
Another topic of concern is the role of the teacher, which might be endangered with the implementation of Khan. As mentioned before, the workload of the teacher will be reduced, as will be the necessity for a larger number of teachers. If it takes a smaller amount of teachers to teach a larger class, then the need for teachers will logically be smaller. This could end with many teachers losing their jobs, as well as the downfall of the profession itself.