Back in 2009 I looked at a number of resources for statistics on YouTube (see below) and commented on a number of videos from the Khan Academy produced by Salman Khan. Since that time the academy has progressed and at the time of writing it features over 2400 videos on a number of topics from statistics to biology. What’s really interesting about the TED talk above (with a guest appearance from Bill Gates) is that Khan is talking about a new way of learning. His argument runs along the following lines. If the teacher gives a talk in a classroom of students then it is a one-size-fits-all model which doesn’t relate well to how students actually learn material. So Khan argues that if you give the students a set of videos which progress from simple to complex topics, then they can progress through at their own rate. This frees the teacher to help the students as necessary. Of course this is just the beginning because the developers associate videos with tests to help the students measure their progress (the progress rates also gave counterintuitive insights into the learning process itself) but also in his discussion at the end Bill Gates raises other possibilities – finding a mentor online according to their reputation before hinting that we are seeing the future of education. This model has already been rolled out at one college but it offers potential for courses to be developed locally. These are exciting times for education particularly if resources like YouTube are used to generate a globally competitive modular educational model.
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