Los Altos Patch on LAUSD’s expansion of Khan Academy to more classrooms:

The fact that we may not have seen a statistically different result between the pilot classes and the non-pilot classes might be a little bit puzzling, but it is by no means a reason to discount the program altogether,” said Seither. Seither has a child who was in the pilot program. He added that a child’s newfound enthusiasm for math and focus cannot be directly measured.

Seriously, I *am* puzzled. I would have guessed Khan’s approach to lecture and practice would *juice* achievement scores on standardized tests while *tanking* students’ enthusiasm for math. Clearly, I need to keep a loose grip on my assumptions.

**BTW**: I was interviewed by *World Magazine* for a piece on Khan Academy (paywalled, but accessible through the first link on this page) where I’m billed as a critic of Khan Academy. A “critic” is defined, in these matters, as someone who doesn’t reflexively throw money or praise at Salman Khan.

Khan Academy has some critics. Dan Meyer, a former math teacher at San Lorenzo Valley High School, thinks Khan Academy is ideally suited for teaching standardized tests, but doesn’t show the bigger picture of how math applies to the real world. He says Khan’s lectures and multiple choice questions teach students how to get the right answers, but do not spark a deeper interest in math.

“Math should be developed in an environment where you can dig in, mess around, and play with the numbers,” Meyer said. When he taught 9th-grade remedial algebra, each class would focus on solving a problem: One day he put up a picture of a giant pyramid of pennies a man had created over many years, and students were curious as to how many pennies were in the pile. He then taught arithmetic sequences and other topics necessary so that students could figure out how to solve the problem themselves.

Other teachers share Meyer’s concern about Khan Academy’s lack of context. Both Patel and Donahue plan to add a project component to their classes, where students can watch Khan’s videos to learn certain skills and then use them to answer practical questions.

Meyer doesn’t think Khan should be used in class to replace a teacher. Unlike having a teacher in the room, Khan’s videos cannot make eye contact with students, pause and answer questions, or have a relationship with students. Still, he sees the benefit of Khan Academy as a supplementary tool in math classes if a student misses a day of school or needs extra help with a certain topic. He also believes that it would be helpful in situations where high-quality teachers are not available.

Comments closed in advance. I don’t need another food fight.

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