Sat, 24 Sep 2011
A Paradigm Shift in the Classroom

The Economist ran an inspiring and very optimistic piece last week called Flipping the Classroom.

The article describes how some schools are using new teaching methods to better engage and instruct their pupils. Introducing new technology to the classroom is nothing new, but getting it to make any substantial positive difference is. It's worth trying.

So far, I've been fairly doubtful about the utility of the computer in schools but, like so much else, the internet has changed a lot of things. There are a lot of very skilled and motivated people wanting to fix education and the tools are much better now.

The schools are making full use of Khan Academy, an online educational video producer. The videos are free and teach various subjects, with mathematics and science being particularly suited to this format. The videos are not only educational, but engaging and even fun.

There's a lot of choice. Pop over and play one yourself to see e.g. this one is on converting fractions to decimals.

By allowing the cheap distribution of high quality educational video and other material (courses, lectures etc.), the internet is acting as a real game changer.

As well as private, non-profits like Khan, some of the major universities are also putting a lot of their courses online for free now. Including MIT and Stanford.