Learning on demand

On his blog Stephen Downes discussed the shift from thinking education is something that is provided for us towards the idea it is something we create for ourselves thanks to a myriad of resources accessible via the internet.

I’ve mentioned the Khan Academy before but it exemplifies Stephen Downes’ point – learning on demand.  The founder, Sal Khan was one of the presenters at Cisco’s Virtual Forum for Educational Leaders last week.

He demonstrated how easy it was for students to work at their own pace using the free resources available on his website.   Using student data and feedback, Sal is continually reviewing the content to ensure students are able to understand core maths and science concepts.

This process is counter to the current pressures on teachers and students to ‘get through’ the curriculum.  Do we ever question what this superficial treatment of the curriculum is doing?  Are we displacing effective strategies in place of ‘getting the job done’?

Websites like the Khan Academy are not competing with but rather trying to work with schools to build the instructional core – the connection between student, content and teacher knowledge.


4 thoughts on “Learning on demand

  1. Hi Greg, long time reader, first time poster. I completely agree with you, I envisage a system where students can complete units in their own time, with access anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

    How can an everyday teacher like myself help? I’ve already taken my units online, Im an e-learning co-ordinator. When will the system change? How can I help assist this process?

    1. Tim like the Nike add says , “just do it!” No magic answers here. The innovation and creativity needed to engage young people in powerful learning lies in the hands of every teacher. You have a vision and a passion so that’s the best start. Share your practice with colleagues and use your students as advocates. They know good contemporary learning and teaching and will help. Whaty I’ve come to understand is that it is not so much a technical and pedagogical change needed as much as a cultural change. This needs leaders

  2. Thanks! I had a look at the Khan academy and watched the TED talk he gave. Amazing! I checked out a few of the modules and was very impressed – Sal is obviously passionate about his teaching and what was incredible is that he’s set it all up to be free. Thanks for sharing I have already passed it on to some HSC students and tutors I know – I hope you can somehow recommend it to High School students, especially those who need a little help.

  3. Discovered the Khan Academy earlier this year while looking for extra resources for my maths students. It is an excellent resource. I couldn’t believe the breadth and depth of resources available. Some of the videos are better the others, but it is more about the students understanding that I am not the only source for their learning. They are spreading their wings beyond the four walls of the classroom. It has other online lessons and activities that are easy to use and help the user build skills.

    For me it is all about blended learning. One of my greatest challenges is to help my students recognise and trust in their own capabilities. Giving students opportunities to be active partners in the designing of their own learning, and helping them to become more confident in their ability to do so.

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