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I do agree with some of the issues presented here. Khan teaches you how to solve many math problems, but he rarely mentions how you could use it in real life. But if you go to the Q&A section you will rarely see this brought up.

I do find it appalling that their approach is making a parody video instead of presenting a better solution. Instead of wasting their time—and mine— making fun of Khan, it would have been immensely more useful presenting a video of how their approach is better.

This is something I love about the development community (even though I'm not a developer myself). If someone thinks he has a better solution to your problem he sends a pull request and boom: the better solutions are often obvious.

If you sit and watch the video itself it's a very mild form of parody. They are actually commenting on the presentation given by the Khan Academy video and their comments make clear how they believe multiplication of negative numbers should be taught.

That, plus it's a way to get attention.

A mild critique written up in a small corner of the internet is likely never to be seen by most.

Any publicity is good publicity, and I think these individuals definitely want to help.

What you are missing is the long line of criticism that has been made concerning Khan academy for years now from math teachers around the united states, all of which has been basically ignored. You're appalled that a few of them made a parody? How would you feel if you discovered that the only way you could be heard on the topic was by making a parody?

These teachers that criticize Khan, you know what their 'pull request' is? They actually teach in real classrooms. They experiment constantly, looking for better ways to teach, and then they share their ideas with other teachers through a variety of different mediums. Those are their pull requests. You don't see them because you're not a part of the community.

A github pull request shares tools with tool developers and tool users. Are teachers sharing those educational insights with students ? if not , why ? and if so , is there a problem of reaching students with good educational content ?

>is there a problem of reaching students with good educational content?

Actually, you've hit upon the root problem. Truly effective education doesn't scale. Why? Because truly effective education is personal and personalized. A teacher is very effective when teaching small classes, because they can give students individual attention. That teacher is not going to be as effective when teaching 100, or 1000, or a million students. There's no way to provide individual attention there.

It can be hard for us to understand, because readers of HN are likely to be autodidacts to some extent who don't need that kind of attention. We need to understand that this isn't the norm. The research has been very consistent on this topic for decades now.

That doesn't mean that mass education a la khan and some of the other solutions that are out there are bad. The frustration educators are feeling about these rise from several different areas:

1) We know that these are not the most effective means of teaching. Most students do experience long-term learning in these environments.

2) Mass education is very dehumanizing. This isn't just websites that experience this, but teachers in actual classrooms who have to teach larger and larger class sizes every year. It's a dehumanizing experience.

Basically, to me it seems like we don't care about 2 any more, and the sacrifice of effectiveness is one we're willing to make in order to get quantity. I don't like that, and many teachers out there completely reject that idea.

So if you can find a way to scale personal (in the social sense), and personalized education, you're going to be positioned very well. Khan academy isn't it, and I'm not even sold that doing it on large scales is even possible.

>> So if you can find a way to scale personal (in the social sense), and personalized education, you're going to be positioned very well.

Maybe scaling personalized education is not that complicated.Basically you just create wide arrays of explanations to something , and automatically try to offer each student the explanations he will benefit most from. Yes it demands work on content creation , and it demand a way(automated, crowdsourced, by teacher) to offer each student recommendations on content. But the gains could be immense: offering great education globally.

After you solved this problem, offering social support becomes somewhat easier.Instead of the teacher focusing on lecturing to full classes, creating lesson plans, he can focus on working with each student individually and offering social support. That's the whole idea of reverse classroom:children listen to lectures at home, and do homework at school with help of the teacher.

But that's just one way of a scalable solution, but there are many startups working on finding the solution and building interesting things. I wouldn't bet against all of them.

>> Most students do experience long-term learning in these environments.

That's interesting, because that doesn't match the many positive reviews from students. That also doesn't match the fact that khan offers exercises to some students and see results improve.

Class size doesn't matter:


(And I would argue huge college lecture halls, and courses such as the Standford AI class also illustrate that small class size isn't what it's made out to be.)

First, that is a really poor citation, but let me just take it at face value. Here's what the article claims (from qualitative research btw) does have an impact:

-frequent teacher feedback

-the use of data to guide instruction

-high-dosage tutoring

-increased instructional time

-high expectations

How many of those are not even doable by Khan?

By the way, when I say 'class size matters' I'm not saying that 'large class sizes aren't effective.' I'm saying 'smaller class sizes are more effective than large class sizes.' We all know learning can happen in pretty much any environment. The question is how to maximize that value. The fact that you can learn in the stanford AI class is very far away from answering the question 'is that the most effective way to learn.'

There is no pull request for Khan Academy. I don't even see a bug tracker. Teachers and other involved people have tried to do everything else; it just doesn't get their attention.

The last time Khan posted a call to hire on HN, I reached out to them about a position as a curriculum developer. They're more interested in expanding their back-end currently, not improving their instruction.

>> They're more interested in expanding their back-end currently, not improving their instruction.

I think the reason is simple. Khan came from india, where teacher quality is awful in many places. he want to offer good enough education to those who have awful education.

No he didn't came from India. He is born in New Orleans, USA. But point holds, there is awful teachers all around the world, including USA, and a vast collection of good quality instruction videos is valuable.

I'm from Finland, which tops in PISA rankings and what I've read about the reasons behind our good PISA performance, one is that teachers profession is still valued here, we have quality applicants and thus good teachers compared to many other countries.

Based on that experience, I'd say that Sal Khan is definitely above an average as a teacher. Anecdotally I'd say he is a very good teacher, but that's debatable.

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