EdSurge invited me to review the last decade in math edtech.
Entrepreneurs had a mixed decade in K-16 math education. They accurately read the landscape in at least two ways: a) learning math is enormously challenging for most students, and b) computers are great at a lot of tasks. But they misunderstood why math is challenging to learn and put computers to work on the wrong task.
In a similar retrospective essay, Sal Khan wrote about the three assumptions he and his team got right at Khan Academy in the last decade. The first one was extremely surprising to me.
Teachers are the unwavering center of schooling and we should continue to learn from them every day.
Someone needs to hold my hand and help me understand how teachers are anywhere near the center of Khan Academy, a website that seems especially useful for people who do not have teachers.
Khan Academy tries to take from teachers the jobs of instruction (watch our videos) and assessment (complete our autograded items). It presumably leaves for teachers the job of monitoring and responding to assessment results but their dashboards run on a ten-minute delay, making that task really hard!
Teachers are very obviously peripheral, not central, to the work of Khan Academy and the same is true for much of math education technology in the 2010s. If entrepreneurs and founders are now alert to the unique value of teachers in a student’s math education, let’s hear them articulate that value and let’s see them re-design their tools to support it.