Some Teachers Claim Khan Academy Free Education May be Harmful

The “Khan Academy” has received worldwide recognition since it was created three years ago, when Salman Khan began producing instructional videos for his niece. Since then, it’s become a cultural phenomenon, as thousands of people are now using the videos for a source of free education. There are hundreds of videos available on the site, covering topics from basic algebra to complicated computer science.

While this seems like it can’t possibly be a bad thing, some teachers are warning that Khan’s videos could actually be potentially harmful for students. They believe that the “lecture” learning process could actually inhibit learning, since it doesn’t allow for hands-on interaction.

Maybe it’s just me, but most of my high school (and college) classes didn’t really involve a lot of “hands-on” activities. Perhaps these teachers are just feeling anxious that a society based on free education could put them out of a job?


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  1. Dr Derek Muller, the founder of Veritasium did some research on the learning effect of science videos and came up with some interesting results:

    “It is a common view that “if only someone could break this down and explain it clearly enough, more students would understand.” Khan Academy is a great example of this approach with its clear, concise videos on science. However it is debatable whether they really work. Research has shown that these types of videos may be positively received by students. They feel like they are learning and become more confident in their answers, but tests reveal they haven’t learned anything. The apparent reason for the discrepancy is misconceptions. Students have existing ideas about scientific phenomena before viewing a video. If the video presents scientific concepts in a clear, well illustrated way, students believe they are learning but they do not engage with the media on a deep enough level to realize that what was is presented differs from their prior knowledge. There is hope, however. Presenting students’ common misconceptions in a video alongside the scientific concepts has been shown to increase learning by increasing the amount of mental effort students expend while watching it.”

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