I had the good fortune to have breakfast a week or so ago with a young Parker alum who works for Kahn Academy. By now, you all know the basics about Kahn, an incredible story of great young people doing the right thing with determination and imagination. So just a few tidbits following that breakfast:
KA is still a small company and I get the sense they are putting in long hours just trying to imagine all the possibilities of their powerful footprint, and then also engineering those imaginings. They wink and say there are two big companies in Mt. View, at the north end of Silicon Valley: Google and KA. They may never become as big as Google but they are on the verge of making a huge impact on education as they expand their video library and make the tools for teachers both highly useful and robust. When teachers now say that they do not have time to integrate 21C skills in the classroom, I immediately think about how they could flip their subject right now and free up time from content delivery to work with students on tailored help or advanced skills.
During a follow-up conversation back here at school, one teacher told me that, following the 60 Minutes piece on KA two weeks ago he asked his 9th graders how many used Kahn at home. 90% raised their hands, and yet we do not have a single teacher at the school that assigns this as homework. Bottom line: the kids are completely comfortable seeking out dynamic sources of help. We just need to embrace this type of content delivery and leverage the flexibility it provides.
I don’t think that this type of instruction will ever completely replace face-to-face teaching; at least I hope it does not. But failure to embrace this technology is just head-in-the-sand for educational leaders.