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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Changing Education


Video is a powerful educational tool. With internet distribution and storage, a world class video can easily be shared globally. Salman Khan of the Khan Academy has been making short videos that teach specific technical skills to students from elementary school to graduate level. These are available for free on the web.

One of the challenges of internet based video education is that students aren’t really learning, they just feel like they are learning, let’s call that couch potato syndrome. That’s a small, easily addressed problem. The larger problem is presenters faxing in their performance while standing at the front of a classroom.

Sebastian Thrun, who knows something about education, puts it this way, “You don’t lose weight by watching someone else exercise,” he says. “You don’t learn by watching someone else solve problems. It became clear to me that the only way to do online learning effectively is to have students solve problems.”

So lesson one is Go Make Something. Come to think of it, that’s what work is these days.

A major change in learning is information is available anywhere. In the old days, students went to University to learn the Canon of Western Civilization, all three books, because there was a good chance that when they went back home, they weren’t going to see another book again. Scholars were walking search engines. They weren’t expected to work, they were expected to provide answers and educate the baron’s whelps in their downtime.

There are still people who think their job is to have an opinion and opine. Nice work if you can get it.

For most of us, job one is to turn that knowledge into something valuable, on demand.

The purpose of video education is to provide the knowledge. Education comes from using it to make something useful.

Another value of video education is modeling behavior. Kipling provided Victorian behavior modeling through his writing, and The Man Who Would Be King shows heroic behavior, like High Noon, and even Leroy Jethro Gibbs or Frank Reagan.

Let’s take the best parts of video and work it like a rented mule in the interests of better education.
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