Hello, reader! If you intend to post a link to this blog on Twitter, be aware that for utterly mysterious reasons, Twitter thinks this blog is spam, and will prevent you from linking to it. Here's a workaround: change the .com in the address to .ca. I call it the "Maple Leaf Loophole." And thanks for sharing!

Monday, July 2, 2012

#mtt2k and my own version

Here's both an entry to the #mtt2k contest, and a humble submission for a better video that provides instruction for this concept.

The target is the Coordinate Plane video. I used a tool called Popcorn Maker to add comments to it. I don't think this can be embedded, so please click here to go watch.

Before y'all get out your flamethrowers and head to the comments, I'd like to say a few things. I'm neither vitriolic, panicked, nor bitter about Khan Academy. I think it's a great resource and it's an excellent place to see a demonstration of procedures. I send my own students to it during exam review time, and they report that it is helpful.

Where Khan and the Gates Foundation overextend their claims, though, is when they suggest that the Khan Academy can serve as standalone instruction in Mathematics. Enduring learning requires productive struggle and time to noodle out unfamiliar problems, posed by a teacher who knows what you're ready for, and can provide expert scaffolding. Lecture-only instruction focused on mastering procedures is an impoverished substitute for doing Mathematics, and it doesn't matter if that lecture is in person or in a video.

Given that, I do think that the instruction provided in the Khan Academy could be improved with some better planning and basic pedagogical technique. It's already a good resource for some purposes, and I'd love to see it get even better. It's my hope that the key players involve will calm down, cut the drama, and work together to improve the available resources. It's math, people. Not the opera.

I made a video intended to instruct on the coordinate plane. Although I'm certain it could be improved since it hasn't been subjected to editing by anyone but me, I think it's better than the Khan Academy offering. First, it provides motivation for graphing quantities in two dimensions. Second, it asks questions of the viewer at key points, with the idea that the viewer would take a moment to think and respond before continuing. Here you go: