Little has changed in the way knowledge has been transferred over the years. Initially teaching was one person talking to a few people; let’s call this the Neanderthal approach, the first classroom? Then we had a major innovation the printing press, around 1450, which made it possible for knowledge to flow around the world, all be it slowly, no email in those days. But with the advent of the computer in 1837 (Charles Babbage) or 1942 (first digital computer) or the first PC, IBM 1953, the ability to store and transfer information to the masses was possible. Yet little changed in the way we were taught, until now.
Now we have both online and classroom learning. But what is best way to learn, what is the most efficient and effective way to transfer knowledge?
If you think of a traditional lecture, the lecturer stands at the front and talks, the student makes notes and then goes away to read and perhaps actually learn something about the subject.
The online approach
A mass of content is available online, you can watch the very best lecturers from all around the world, stopping and starting the presentation to suite the speed in which you learn. Or perhaps you have a sophisticated e learning course where activities are carefully constructed to explain what you need to know. But this can be lonely and despite the claim that online is the same as being in a classroom, from my experience it is not, it is different.
The blend and the flip
But is the best method to have a blend of both online and Classroom / Lecture Theater. This is the idea behind the blended course. Attend the lecture and then watch some online instruction later in the day perhaps. However much thought needs to be given to how this works, directing students to random You Tube clips is far from ideal. Yet it feels like a move in the right direction.
And now the Flip – The flipped classroom (2004 ish) takes its name from the idea that content has historically been taught in the day and students expected to apply that content in their own time for homework. But is making notes in class the best use of that face to face time? Should students not watch the lecture on the evening, benefiting from studying at their own pace and then attend class the next day, where they can ask questions? Can we flip the process?
In class the lecturer or teacher can then bring the subject to life using real world examples, answer student questions and deal with individuals on a one to one basis.
It’s not perfect, but it is better
Okay it is far from perfect and it has yet to be proven over time. But it does seem to make a lot of sense and for the first time we may be seeing the power of the PC complementing rather than competing with the classroom.
Watch this for a great explanation why flipping the class is a good idea
Check out this link to something called the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organisation with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere, okay their words not mine but an impressive mission none the less. All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, or parent. The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.
This is a great example of open or free content, knowledge that is available on the internet for free, so now you have no excuses you can learn anything for free………
Okay you can’t learn everything, there are ONLY 2,100 videos and there are issues, how good are the lessons, are they of the right standard and quality, are they up to date, how relevant are they in helping you pass your exam?
Equally the Khan Academy is not meant to be a substitute for structured learning. There is more to a course or a well written text book than simply knowledge. Teachers motivate and focus attention, they identify what is important and what is not, they will link topics together in such a way that makes the whole subject easier to understand and follow. But this material can really help, it can complement a structured course so that teachers can free their time to support and show how the knowledge can be applied. And if there are specific topics that you have never understood, just check out one of the lectures from the library.
This is not of course the first website to provide free content and it is American, do they not know that Math’s has an S on the end! But it is pretty good and it’s not just me who thinks that, Bill Gates does too.
In a time when universities are increasing their fees to teach stuff, it might be that they need to reassess exactly what they are charging for, because if its knowledge, well why pay for that when you can get it for nothing!
Watch this TED lecture given by Sal Khan the founder
And for my students not sure about earning per share EPS
Or the PE ratio
Or what market capiltalisation (wth an S) might mean