The Anti-Dropout. Two pieces: the technical problems of the next decade won’t be solved with knowledge that can be self-taught, and the next generation of innovation will come from large organizations where credentials matter.
Code With Me, a two day introduction to HTML/CSS/jQuery for journalists, came to Portland last weekend. Even though it was beautiful weather outside, forty students and twenty mentors gathered deep within The Oregonian to improve their digital chops. Just think a bit on those numbers… Continue reading →
First, the people running the old system don’t notice the change. When they do, they assume it’s minor. Then that it’s a niche. Then a fad. And by the time they understand that the world has actually changed, they’ve squandered most of the time they had to adapt.
It’s been interesting watching this unfold in music, books, newspapers, TV, but nothing has ever been as interesting to me as watching it happen in my own backyard. Higher education is now being disrupted; our MP3 is the massive open online course (or MOOC), and our Napster is Udacity, the education startup.
We have several advantages over the recording industry, of course. We are decentralized and mostly non-profit. We employ lots of smart people. We have previous examples to learn from, and our core competence is learning from the past. And armed with these advantages, we’re probably going to screw this up as badly as the music people did.
Clay Shirky – Napster, Udacity, and the Academy
AMA with Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy. What an epic comment thread.
Cultural artifact: Tonight’s class homework is to go register an account with Khan Academy and add your teacher as a coach. But what if they want a different coach? Easily done.
The case against college. This is the sound of a huge falling tree.
Khan thought he could offer teachers crucial new insight into how students learn. He envisioned a dashboard system that would track students’ individual statistics, showing them and their instructors how many videos they’d watched, how many questions they’d answered, and which ones they’d gotten wrong or right. Normally, of course, teachers fly blind. They use quizzes, homework, and their own observations to try to figure out how much their students understand, but it’s a crude process. Day to day, it’s hard to know what a student is and isn’t learning. A dashboard, Khan says, can change all that.
Cadwell has already gotten so used to these metrics that she feels unmoored in her other classes, where they’re not yet using the system. “In those, I get to a quiz or a test and I’m blindsided when they don’t know something—or when they ace something.”
But by being able to target her students for special help exactly when they needed it, Cadwell saw stunning results: The class’s test scores improved more than 106 percent in half a year. One girl I met in the classroom had advanced an astonishing 366 percent. “I hated math,” the girl tells me cheerfully. “But now it’s actually fun.” She began the year unable to do basic fractions; during my visit, I watched her plow through complicated long division, carefully working problems on the Khan software.
How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education. Whether or not the Khan Academy ultimately succeeds, the trend is very real.
PS: I took the blog post down after NYU received a “cease and desist” letter, and I was advised by my superiors that I may be liable for legal liabilities if I keep the post up. They could not perform a full legal analysis, and as a precaution they asked me to take the post down. For work-related issues, the employer has the right to restrict “free speech”, a ruling supported by many decisions of the Supreme Court. It made no sense for me to disobey and try to fight the C&D letter by myself.
Panos Ipeirotis — Comment on Business Insider’s “NYU Professor Catches 20% Of His Students Cheating, And He’s The One Who Pays For It“ and related to this previous note. I wish we knew more about the thinking within NYU’s administration. Isn’t this what universities are supposed to stand for?
In other words, my theory is: Cheating (on a systematic level) happens because students try to get an edge over their peers/competitors. Even top-notch students cheat, in order to ensure a perfect grade. Fighting cheating is not something that professors can do well in the long run, and it is counterproductive by itself. By channeling this competitive energy into creative activities, in which you cannot cheat, everyone is better off.
Panos Ipeirotis — Why I will never pursue cheating again. A computer scientist teaching in a business school details a year of trying to combat cheating on assignments. Overall, he spent 45 hours addressing the problem during a 32 hour lecture course, and 22 of 108 enrolled students admitted cheating. Solutions could include:
- Public projects – All of the work ends up public, so embarrassment is the deterring factor.
- Peer review – Students have to present their work in class, and are judged by others.
- Competitions – Grades are performance-based (e.g. students build websites to attract the greatest number of unique visitors).
Takeaway: If plagiarism is your biggest worry, you’re doing it wrong.