Video education innovations
The first month of school is done. Students have settled into a routine and know what’s expected. Teachers have figured out the dynamics in the classroom. The honeymoon period is over and the bumps in the road have become more obvious.
Dividing double digit decimals was a tough concept for some of my fifth graders to handle, while others caught on quickly. Some actually asked for help, but students used to getting the concept quickly struggle with fears of being dumb and try to hide their not knowing. Changing this coping mechanism to a more productive strategy takes time, patience and courage.
Those who learn to ask for help before becoming too frustrated are better able to handle future challenges. They see not knowing as an opportunity to expand their mental focus.
They’re ready to stretch to encompass the experience.
Sometimes change feels like a storm that has to be weathered while other times transformation surprises us with its ability to inspire. In order to keep lessons exciting for students, it helps to look at old curriculum with fresh eyes and find a new angle.
That might include adding BrainPop, a short educational cartoon video on hundreds of topics, on the Promethian Board where they’re immediately quizzed using responders to determine the percent of students who get each question correct.
While searching for new material about the sun and the solar energy science standard, I stumbled across information regarding Barefoot College in India where illiterate women are taught to become solar engineers to light up their villages.
A video of the college’s founder, Bunker Roy, can be found on TED which is a website dedicated to passing along innovative ideas in video format. On it Roy tells how the college has run on solar energy for 25 years and that he chose grandmothers as his students. They were more settled than the men who wanted to move away as soon as they had mastered a skill, whereas the women wanted to make life better for their family.
Barefoot College’s innovative approach has educated 15,000 women, training them with skills to improve their community with light and electricity for half a million villagers in India and Africa. Not only were these women not able to read, they had to use sign language because multiple languages were present in the classroom.
Another innovative educational idea is Khan Academy which is a structured series of short videos offering a whole curriculum of mini-math lessons. Salman Kahn began tutoring his cousins who lived far away by making You Tube videos to teach them math concepts.
To date over 2,000 videos have been posted which a million students have accessed with approximately a hundred thousand daily viewers. Khan’s TED talk revealed that his cousins like his video better than him for tutoring which he attributed to the fact that the first time a brain tries to wrap itself around a new idea, it likes to pause and repeat often.
Khan was surprised that the general public began watching his You Tube videos, but as viewership has continued to grow over the last six years he now claims there are regular classroom applications. He thinks teachers should assign his videos for homework so students can rewind and repeat and then do the skills practice in class where the teacher is able to help.
The Los Altos School District decided to try his method with two classes of fifth and seventh graders. Bill Gates who interviewed Khan claims this video academy is a glimpse into the future of education.
Am I ready to assign videos for homework and have Khan instruct my students at home? Not yet, but I am intrigued. Sometimes the only way to know if a new innovation will work is to try it. I’m willing to show Khan’s double-digit dividing decimal video in school.
When change comes knocking on your door, will you be willing to unwrap the transformational package? Check out TEDs latest innovations and inspirational talks and let the new video technologies enhance your learning experience.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.