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What I’m thinking about: accelerating innovation

September 17, 2010

I saw this TED talk yesterday, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

This got me thinking—why can the internet improve dance education so much, but in the 10 years I’ve been teaching, it really hasn’t transformed the way most students learn physics? (I’m saying most here—I know it’s had a huge effect on my teaching).

Then I tried to find the equivalent of the 6 year-old dance challenge for physics. Hey, I’ve heard good things about Kahn Academy . What about those guys? Here’s a video from them on introducing Newton’s 1st law:

I’m not meaning to trash Kahn Academy here, but this has nothing on the 6-year old dancing video, and great physics teaching, this isn’t (even though when I showed this to my kids, they loved it, and wanted me to keep going—I think this says something about how students get used to spoon feeding).

So here’s my thought, first, it makes me want to put everything I do on the internet for feedback. Second, and more importantly, I think there’s a opportunity here for us to transform how kids learn physics by mimicking how they learn dance from you tube. Instead of toiling away on a bunch of homework problems on their own, why don’t we have students film themselves working a problem, explaining the results from a lab, or how to make a precise measurement. And then, share this with the world: “yo: New York, here’s our free body diagram for a suction cup on a wall—what can you do?”

Seriously, I think this could change the world. Who’s in?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Theron permalink
    September 17, 2010 1:19 pm

    I had exactly the same thought earlier this summer after reading about the ‘flipped’ school day in which kids watched recorded lectures for homework and work problems/do labs in class. This led me to thoughts on using screencasts effectively, which led me to thoughts on students using screencasts effectively. I thought about the fact that my students are usually better at explaining their thinking verbally than in writing, put two and two together, and arrived at the same conclusion. I personally like MS Community Clips for simplicity, and my kids now all have it downloaded to their machines. Then I got to thinking about standards based grading reassessments and did a mental ‘ah-hah’. Make a classroom account on Youtube for the Mastery level vids and you’ve got your own student-produced Khan Academy.

    • September 17, 2010 11:53 pm

      Theron, this is exactly what I’m thinking. Now when kids come to me and say they want to demonstrate understanding in a reassessment, I’m going to have them film themselves solving the problem on the whiteboard. I think I would also love to think about using skype and/or filming short experiment explanations that are then passed on to other classrooms with questions. One thing that might be awesome to do would be to reproduce the eratosthenes experiment. Which reminds me, the equinox is coming up. Want to give this a go?

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