We are just going to keep seeing these kinds of headlines until this mess is behind us: Khan Academy founder: Balance between in-person, online learning could be ‘silver lining’ of crisis.
Is it? Is it a silver lining that some ed tech folks are going to grab some market share over this? Khan Academy has seen a steady uptick in the use of their product, which, for those of you who somehow missed it, is a huge library of instructional videos (some of them especially aimed at test prep for SATs).
I confess to being highly skeptical about video instruction. If I stand in a classroom and deliver direct instruction, take no questions, and if prompted will only re-deliver the exact same instruction over and over again, then I am a lousy teacher. But somehow if I do all that on a video on line, I'm now a visionary genius. It's not that I see no place for instructional videos--I've watched plenty of great ones. But that's not teaching. It's particularly not teachig with younger vstudents.
“Even when we didn’t have school closures, their value was if I’m a teacher in a class with 30 students, how do I cater to their individual needs? ... So I’m hoping that as we come out of this the silver lining will be we will understand how to leverage both in the best possible ways,” Khan continued. “How to blend them, if you will.”
I think they can be blended in the same way that a sprig of decorative parsley is blended with a lobster dinner. It can be a nice extra touch, but A) everything will be just fine without it and B) if your lobster dinner is equal parts lobster and parsley, send it back.
Also, "Go watch this video" is not very awesome individualized instruction.
Khan offers other advice, too.
“What we’ve been doing is trying to provide extra support,” Khan said. “We’ve published schedules for parents and teachers so they can understand how to structure the day. We’ve just published some learning plans so students can understand not just how to keep learning through the end of the school year, but how to leverage summers so that the learning doesn’t stop.”
Schedules?! Yikes. And exactly what expertise does KA have in structuring the day? Go ahead-- scan their staff for folks with classroom teaching expertise, or whatever kind of formal training background that would qualify you to tell parents how to structure a day.
This is the hubris and opportunism of Silicon Valley ed tech-- I've come up with one useful little tool, so I'm now an expert on how the entire construction project.
Look, I know this is hard, and everybody wants to find a way to help, but too many ed tech outfits seem to think the pandemic pause is their moment, their chance to rise to greater prominence, to build their brand, to drive the bus. It's not helpful.