The Reflective Educator

Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

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I tried the Khan Academy

As an experiment, I started out the beginning of this year and tried flipping my classroom, but with a slight twist: I have extra instructional time, so students were to watch the instructional videos (from the Khan Academy and during classroom time. We spent about 1/3 of classtime using the Khan Academy videos and exercises, about 1/3 doing problem solving activities (like what is available on and, and the rest of the time attempting to put the knowledge we were learning into a useful context for the students. While students were involved in these activities, I spent my time circulating the classroom and providing individual and small group support and instruction.

After a month I ended my experiment and am currently in a state of transition while I explore other possible ways of running my classroom. Here are some of the reasons I ended it.

  • Some students chose, despite repeated requests from me, to only watch videos and do exercises that were really easy for them, instead of advancing their knowledge. One student said "she liked the easy videos because it was easy to get points." Another student said she chose the easy exercises because "she was worried about getting problems wrong." These students were more focused on getting easy points and avoiding challenges than learning.
  • Some of my students ignored the point system of the Khan Academy and focused on learning, but found that the information from the Khan Academy wasn’t challenging enough. When given practice questions from the course content, they found that the Khan Academy style questions didn’t adequately prepare them. This was partially addressed for these students by switching to the videos, since they are more difficult.
  • A few students were able to "master" the content in the Khan Academy exercises after watching a few of the videos, but were unable to transfer what they had learned to any other context, and when queried in more depth, lacked basic understand of what they were learning. For example, they could solve problems like log10 + log2 = log20, but had no idea how to find the value of log20 in terms of p and q when log10 = p and log2 = q.

I’m hoping to implement the RME model and looking for resources that will help support the course curriculum I’m required to cover in the International Baccalaureate program. If I can’t find resources to support this, I’m switching back to my style where I spend some time with students doing experiments in math, some time working on practice problems, and some time with me explaining mathematical concepts. I’m definitely not using the Khan Academy videos again (but I will probably use the videos as additional support for students).


See this Slideshare presentation for a description of what the RME model looks like.