Why Don't We Experiment With Khan Academy In Our MATCH Tutoring?

1. This video is Salman Khan giving a 20-minute talk. My friend Ann sent this along -- I think she saw it live last week in California at TEd.

He calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script -- give students video lectures to watch at home, and do "homework" in the classroom with the teacher available to help.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM95HHI4gLk

MATCH does a version of "flipping the script." With tutoring. Rather than thinking of the tutor purely for "help," we think of the tutor as the personal trainer.

A personal trainer gets people who want to exercise theoretically, but often want to avoid exercise in the moment, to actually do it. After which they're glad they exercised.

Similarly, a MATCH tutor gets kids who want to learn theoretically -- but often want to avoid actually doing math problems, writing essays, and reading texts in the moment -- to actually do it. After which they're (sometimes) glad they worked hard and learned.

2. So: Why doesn't MATCH School use Khan Academy (and similar) within our very tight tutorial structure? Think about it.

From a MATCH kid's point of view, each day she has 2 hours of tutoring: one tutor, her, another kid. Typically hour of math, hour of English.

Now don't get me wrong. I've learned my lesson. Frequently when technology is deployed in schools, it utterly utterly fails.

Most No Excuses charter schools don't put kids in front of computers that much -- whether it's online or CD-Rom software. Many of the top charter schools have played with this, and haven't found a lot of value. Kate and I have learned, while planning our elementary school, that some top No Excuses charters have chopped off the 30 to 40 minutes per day where they used to have kids using literacy software.

Even among the tiny handful of "hybrid" charter schools -- which get a decent amount of philanthropy -- their staff will tell you (off the record) that their own data/observations seems to show that the online tutoring is pretty rocky. It seems cool to technophile observers, but it often functions more as a way to keep kids occupied (teacher costs down) than to really drive learning.

So I get it. Our own teacher experience at MATCH is pretty much no technology integration effort has ever been sticky.

3. With that said, our tutorial structure is a perfect lab to use technology-driven tutorial. We have a high-structure, high-accountability, no-Facebook-or-you-have-detention, almost impossible to use the computer to goof-off world. We have nice laptops already owned by tutors.

For example, math tutorial. Kids are learning slope of line.

Imagine Kid 1 working pencil and paper on practice problems with tutor, while Kid 2 watches this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXP1Gv9IMBo

Then flip: Kid 2 works pencil and paper, while Kid 1 watches the next video in the sequence (more about Slope).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XffLj2zvf4

Or both kids watch Khan at same time, then practice, then Khan, then practice.

Tutor could stop video at any point, take questions, talk thing through, clarify.

From a tutor's point of view, Khan means you get tutor "over the top" of someone else's explanation, focusing immediately on the stuff kids didn't understand. You don't have to make up examples off top of your head. Khan already spent hours on one day thinking of possible examples, then chose ONE example which he thought worked well.

Or tutor could be checking Kid 1 and Kid 2 homework, or other tasks, while they watch Khan.

4. Roll-out. We figure out how to make this work with the "easy to educate" kids, self-directed. Experiment on 10% of tutorial pairs we think can easily handle this, won't try to goof around.

Once we get it right, roll to next 10% of "easy-to-educate" kids.

Obviously, anyone who can't handle it, we just default back to our old-fashioned 2-on-1, all pencil and paper scenario. I.e., there's a simple, easy to operate "fallback."