Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lights, camera, education

The Everett Herald's twitter feed carried a post for an article about YouTube as a teaching tool, which appeared in the Money section today. The profiled student, a college junior, was struggling with trigonometry and searched YouTube for videos on the topic. She was able to view and review these videos until she finally understood the topic. The video was from the Khan Academy Channel. The article says that the Khan Academy is the work of Salman Khan, a hedge-fund manager and math geek. The videos grew out his tutoring of his nephew. Other friends and family wanted tutoring, so instead of repeating the lessons over and over again he committed them to video and posted them.

As a teaching tool, the value comes from the fact that the videos are short, simple and on topic. Additionally, the videos are available when the student is ready to learn (what in industry is being referred to as just-in-time training). This brings to mind the wonderful Common Craft Show videos that I have featured here in previous posts.

Well, Mrs. AdvisoryBored just couldn't control her sense of curiosity and was off searching for systems analysis and database design videos. There were plenty of long-winded, talking-head lectures, but some other more interesting ones too. Take for instance the CareerRx channel which features a series of "A Day in the Life" videos that give viewers insight into what different jobs are like (see the computer systems analyst and the computer software engineer).

Are you leveraging YouTube to help educate students? Yeah, yeah, I know you can't get to YouTube at school because if you do then blah, blah, blah. Let's forget that argument for the moment and deal with what you can do. If you are a math teacher can you review the Khan Academy videos and, if you like them, recommend them to students and parents for homework support? How about an IT instructor and Word mail-merge videos? Can you do your own videos as Liz Davis has done (she supports teachers, not students, but same concept)? Can you ask advisory board members to review and/or recommend videos that they think accurately represent the work of their profession?

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