Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kahn Academy Review

This assignment could not have come at a better time.  Since today was Election Day, the students had the day off and we teachers had an In Service Day.  The Science department was assigned to the technology room where we learned about new ideas involving technology that could help us in the classroom.  One topic that came up for exploration/discussion was the Kahn Academy videos.  The teachers had very mixed reactions, but similar opinions to my own.

After watching several of the videos I have come to the conclusion that the videos are good but not great.  First of all, since Salman Kahn makes all of the videos himself he needs to teach himself the information.  This is a lot of information to learn and then teach to someone else and I noticed some of the time he gets concepts wrong or phrases things incorrectly.  For example, in a photosynthesis video he speaks about ATP which is not correct.  Also, in a video about the phases of mitosis he continually says "the 2 nucleuses"  which is incorrect as well.  Nucleus is the singular form of the word and nuclei is the plural.  He instead should have said "the 2 nuclei".  I believe that this shows he understands main ideas but sometimes misses some smaller points that a high school teacher in the subject would not.

Another issue I see with these videos is that the videos are way too high a level for high school students.  The material he covers is information that would be covered in a specific college level class.  Not a general intro to biology high school class.  The information would be far to detailed for the high school students and thus confuse them even more.

The last concern I see is that there are no practice questions for science.  I know that this website contains a lot of information and takes a lot of time and effort but it would be far more effective if there were questions that students could use to test themselves like there is in the math section.

Overall, I think that this is a good website.  The material (with a few exceptions) is very detailed and accurate.  The only issue is that the material is far too detailed.  I could see these videos being used best for college students to help with material they may have missed or misunderstood in class while studying for a test.  Also, it may be useful for some high level students that need additional information.

Phases of Mitosis: Explanation of the phases of mitosis.

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