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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Can Technology Humanise Education?

 Salman Kahn

Can technology humanise education? Salman Kahn is one man who genuinely thinks it can. Salman Kahn has become something of an online celebrity with a very simple idea: putting learning materials online via videos. His videos on YouTube have had millions of hits, and the feedback appears to be excellent. Even Bill Gates has come onboard, as you will see in the video below. Most of the Kahn Academy videos appear to be related to math, but others are science and physics related. The Academy is no-profit.

The greatest positive of Kahn's system appears to be that kids can learn at their own pace. Kahn argues that, many kids start failing becasue they have knowledge gaps, when they fail at one small step in the learning sequence. In Kahn's system, the student simply stays at each step until they achieve mastery. That requires ten correct answers to problems related to that step.

Bill Gates calls this the future of education. From what I have seen, it certainly has some very positive, possibly transformative benefits. The video is certainly worth watching.

I may even go and try a few of the math videos, and see if I rekindle some enthusiasm for numbers!

Interestingly I watched another Futures related video today. The video (you'll need to download the software) can be viewed at the site of the Australia Digital Futures Institute, part of the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. It appears on some new software (Connector)  that I have not seen before, which feeds the video at the same time as displaying the PowerPoint, and e-comments by those watching the videos. It's much longer than the Kahn video, but well worth watching by anyone interested in the future of learning. One thing that interested me was a vote taken by the lecturer, Professor Gilly Salmon, where she asked a simple question: what should be the main priority of education in the future (I have forgotten the precise wording). 90% of the students said that a digital focus was the most important thing, choosing that option above other choices, including better teacher education. As I argued in yesterday's post, I do have reservations about making digital media the prime focus of education (because, unless balanced with a self-reflective inner wisdom, it can create a dissociation of mind, body and psyche). Nonetheless, there are clearly many exciting possibilities emerging from Futures education at this time. The humanising of education may be one.

Check out the Salman Kahn video, below before making up your mind.


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