Meet You at the Virtual Chalkboard

A New Teaching Philosophy

I was meandering around the Ted website and came upon this video featuring Salman Khan discussing his innovative online tutorial concept.

Khan is the founder of the Khan Academy where online video tutorials are created to cover topics from history to calculus (and topics in between). Khan’s philosophy is learning at your own pace.

Khan’s teaching career began by tutoring his young cousin, Nadia. When she moved to another city, he created simple YouTube lessons for her. His cousin liked the videos more than his “real-time” instruction, because she could repeat a lesson as many times as necessary until she understood it.

Too much Information to Absorb

As for me, too much stuff to learn at once still gives me heart palpitations. My scary university experience involved thick, heavy textbooks that would make my eyes glaze over and my brow glisten with sweat.

Now that I’m older, I realize that learning in small increments is the best way to grasp ideas and hold information (like eating tapas – small bursts of flavour are memorable).

Level-based Teaching Modules

The Khan tutorials are level-based, like a computer game. Students must complete a level of understanding before moving on to the next learning module.

For example, in a classroom situation, students work on the modules (at their own pace and level) while the teacher comes around and helps anyone who needs it. It is not a “one size fits all” approach, but more like a “custom fit” approach to teaching.

Learning is like traveling…

without it, I’m mean or dumb – probably both.

I love to learn, but in a classroom setting I tense up trying to absorb the concept coming at me like a bullet to my head. Or else I doze off waiting for the point to be made. Kinesthetic learning is my favourite style, which is “learning by doing”  – and Khan’s video format allows users to “do” while watching.

Why Can’t Learning be Fun?

Calculus almost ruined my life in university. Let’s just say I barely passed.

So I went to face my demons and tried a calculus tutorial (9 minutes long) that was understandable and engaging. I probably would have gotten a higher grade if this tutorial was available when I was in university.

Anyone game to check out a module?

You never know, math may be your forté or the module may change the way you think about learning.


About Organized Bohemian

Dana M. Petric is a writer/landscape gardener/blogger/performer/office temp/web designer. Her wrestle between creative and money-making ventures permeates her writing. Self-publishing her first book, Growing Iris, Dana continues on her path toward writing full-time. Beginning her post-secondary education at UBC (Liberal Arts dropout), she prevailed at George Brown Theatre School (Theatre Arts Diploma) and matured at BCIT (Technical Writing Diploma). She lives in Vancouver, BC with her partner Eric and daughter Cleo.
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