How to Effectively Flip Your Classroom Using Khan Academy

In this E-Learning Conversation, we talk about how to effectively flip your classroom and the benefits of flipped learning.

Below you will find the recording of the video and the show notes.

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E-Learning Conversation Recording:


0:01:37      What is the Kahn Academy website

0:03:55      What type of learning does the Khan Academy promote?

0:06:45      Kahn Academy demonstration

0:10:19      The student view inside Kahn Academy

0:14:19      Some possible issues with the Kahn Academy program

0:16:00      Does content align with non U.S curriculum?

0:20:14      How hard is it to teach Kahn Academy and how much extra work is there for the teacher?

0:24:00      How to tell if a student is struggling, amazing metrics/reporting build in

0:24:44      Early conclusions about how the students are responding compared to precious years

0:25:53      Blended learning

0:33:37      Integration with other classes?

0:37:04      Q&A session

0:43:18     Extra resources for you


Kahn Academy site

TedTalk given by Salman Kahn

Hapara – our conversation with Lenva from Hapara with an offer for you to access a free trial of Teacher Dashboard.

video with Adam a short explanation of how Adam has used Khan Academy with his maths class

article around Chromebooks How they have been deployed and used at McKinnon Secondary College


Mike:               Yeah hi, everyone.  Thanks for joining us on today’s E-Learning Conversation.  It’s great to have you with us.  We always love it when you use the Q&A app and you send us your questions.  I just want to let you know right up front there is a Q&A app that you can ask your questions and if we have time we’ll certainly get through and answer as much of those as we can.

I’m Mike Reading.  I run a company called Teachers Training International and I do a lot of training for staff and for students around Google apps for education and I’d love to always contact new schools, new teachers and find out about what you’re doing and look at how ICT can help education.  We also got Blake.  Blake, why don’t you introduce yourself?

Blake:              Hello.  I’m Blake.  I work at McKinnon Secondary College as a systems manager and I am just sort of really into all things Google and I sort of work with other schools in deploying Google apps in Chromebooks especially.  We got another fellow colleague of mine here today, Adam, who is going to talk about Kahn Academy and how he is sort of using those.  He is using Chromebooks with his year 10 class for a math class and he is sort of going to run us through how he has found it, what the issues have been and things like that.  I guess we’ll just jump straight into it.  Adam, do you want to lead off there?

Adam:             Yeah, sure.  So what I am doing is like I said work with you at McKinnon Secondary.  I have been trialing a program for the last semester where I have been using, I have been running one elective math classroom exclusively using the Kahn Academy website so it has been quite a big change instead of me standing up in front of the room teaching, getting kids to do questions out of the textbook and so on, they are directing a lot of the learning themselves by watching videos online and then going through and doing quizzes online and getting instant feedback, control exactly what they’re learning, control of the pace that they’re learning and so on.

Mike:               Do you use Google forums for those tests?  How are you administering that?

Adam:             No, the tests are done by the website itself.  They have a whole series of quizzes based on every single topic and those quizzes randomly generated.  Just to actually get the practice questions in, the students go through and they just do them themselves.

Mike:               Yeah, right, nice.  That’s really cool.  I am interested in what got you exploring this new way of teaching and different models and so on.

Adam:             I heard of the Kahn Academy before but I’ve only known it as a series of YouTube videos and when I say series I mean hundreds and hundreds of YouTube videos on different mathematical topics and different things in science.  I think there’s chemistry and physics, biology, there’s computer programming, economics, art, all these different things and then just last year one of my students pointed out that they have a website and the website, it’s not just a collection of the videos.  You make yourself a free account, watch whatever videos you want, do quizzes that you want, do these little mastery challenges, get a really nice point scoring system where the more videos you watch the more questions you attempt the more points you get and more points let you unlock badges.

There’s this whole gratification feedback system built right into it and I had to play around with it last year and thought well I am running an elective subject.  It’s an elective math subject and the idea of the subject is really just preparation for math methods.  It’s one semester long.  I’d thought it would be the perfect trial ground, give it a shot with this class and see how it goes.

Blake:              Awesome.  Maybe it might be a good idea if you could just show us what that looks like.  I know it’s kind of difficult to envision how that works and I now that Kahn Academy provide all the content so you really don’t have control over how it’s delivered.  It’s sort of student-centered learning, isn’t?  Where the students work at their own pace.

Adam:             It’s mastery based and it’s self-paced as well.  What mastery base means, when they get onto one little topic, they don’t have to move onto the next one until they fully understand what they currently are doing.  So instead of the more traditional classroom, I might say, “Okay, today we’re doing this type of quadratic factorization and whether or not you understand it, tomorrow we’re going to move onto the next one.”  I

f a student is falling behind it means that they can start to get more and more behind the more they go along.  The mastery based system with the Kahn Academy means if it takes them three lessons to do that one topic, they can spend that three lessons doing the topic and it can mean that they might fall a little bit behind but then they can catch up in their own time as well.  They’re not dependent on a teacher being ready for them.

Blake:              And you see that.  I don’t know if anybody is watching or seen Salman Kahn’s famous TedTalk.  But if you haven’t, we’ll definitely put that in the link to the show notes afterwards.  In that TedTalk he talks about people when they hit a certain module slowing down.  Students slowing down on certain modules but then catching straight back up again and in traditional teaching that is a bit of a problem where they slow down and they never catch back up.  He is saying they’re able to catch back up on other things that come easier to them.  That’s really interesting.

Adam:             And they can do that completely in their own time as well.  So there might be one little topic and they think I don’t quite get it but I can still move on and then a few days or a week or whatever down the track they decide they want to get back into it, they can just go back, attempt that module again, watch the videos, attempt some more questions and just do it whenever they’re comfortable with it.

Blake:              What we might do, in a minute, we might get you just to pull up on your screen, there is a way to screen share on the menu on the left where we can have a look at the Kahn Academy.  But while you sort that out, I was just thinking you’re using obviously the Year10s, they’re all using Chromebooks and all that has worked pretty well?

Adam:             There has been little teething issues because we’ve just been using Chromebooks for the first time this year but for the most part, everything is going fine.  A couple of the little things that have happened and I mean this is to be expected instead of kids not bringing their textbook to class, you’ll get kids that have left their Chromebooks in their locker or instead of bringing that and forgetting their pencil case, they have forgotten to bring their charger and they wanted to charge the Chromebook overnight.  You still do have a few little issues like that.  It’s not a perfect paradigm teaching situation but I feel like there are no extra issues beyond the issues in a class, they’re different, they’re not additional to a regular classroom.

Blake:              Sure.  I can see your screen now.  Do you want to run us through maybe log in and take us through just for people that sort of don’t understand or don’t really know what Kahn Academy is or haven’t heard of it?  Just run us through sort of what it looks like and how it all fits together because I know it is kind of very different from what you’d expect.  It’s not a lot of involvement from the teachers’ end.  It sort of runs itself so to speak.  It’s just about you setting up the classes and then the students sort of going in and self-pacing themselves, looking at the modules the want to do and working through them.  It’d be interesting to see from a teacher’s perspective what stuff you have access to, what you can see about their learning and also what the modules look like to the kids and what they can expect as learners.

Adam:             Absolutely.  So you can see my screen now?

Blake:              We could.  We just lost it there.  I think you just click on that screen share icon again. It should come back up.

Adam:             Can you see it now?

Blake:              Yes, that looks good.  Wait a minute, no.

Mike:               It’s probably best just to click the green button and then click desktop, as an option.

Blake:              Yes, there we go.

Adam:             Now it’s up?  Fantastic.  This is the main screen.  This is what the kids will see when they log in.  Just give you a brief rundown, some nice little features they go in here, you’ve got this little taskbar that will profile you can set up.  These are the number of badges that are learned.  This is my count.  This is the number of badges I’ve earned, number of points I’ve learned, a little avatar that I managed to unlock by getting I think 100,000 points.

Down here this is a display of all of the skills that I’ve worked on, each of these little gray boxes is the different skill.  However symmetry through mention checks.  Here order of operation with numbers and the different colors show what level of mastery I have.  So the gray ones that means I haven’t done it before and they start going from a lighter shade of blue, which means I’ve practiced and I’ve done at least five questions in a row correctly and then after I’ve shown that I can do five in a row correctly, every now and again I’ll get a little mastery challenge popping up and if I tap on this it’ll give me eight questions and I have to try to get these eight questions correct.

Every question I get correct whatever skill that question applies to I level up.  I go from practice to level one to level two and then mastery, which is the black box there.  These are just the type of things that students can go off and do on their own time.  At the moment, what I am running with my class is differential calculus.  It’s got a lot of these different skills.  It’s grouped into individuals problems.

Blake:              I was just saying my favorite.

Adam:             It’s put all of it into a lot of different topics so the students can just go through.  My favorite topic?  You’d be the one person.

This is the type of screen that the students would look at.  See on the left hand side all of these things to the play icon, these are the different videos.  I’ll mute the video so it doesn’t come through.  The students can go through and watch as many of these videos as they want and the more videos they watch the more points they earn for watching them and then they can just keep going all the way through until they get down to one of these quizzes and in the quiz there have nothing but a picture, a bit of text and then they’ve go to go through typing the answer. Put the answers in and then check the answer to see if they got it correct.

What’s really nice about it as well is that every quiz links to a bunch of videos that are relevant to it and if you get stuck you can click this hidden button and they will come down and they will give you a full step-by-step solution all the way down to the end.  The final hint is usually this is just what the answer is but it tells you exactly how to complete every step.

Up here it shows you this is what you need to get, you need to get five correct answers in a row.  Once you’ve got those five answers you are now considered practice of that skill and you’ll level up.  You have to do those mastery challenges where it will just ask you one of these questions in a group of eight at a random time and if you can get that question correct you got up a level.

The students can afford to learn the skill, practice the skill and then just forget about that skill because they don’t need anymore.  You never know when it’s going to come up.  The first topic we did this year was matrixs and we did that back in February.  There are still students having to answer matrix questions when they log on and do a mastery challenge.  They can’t afford to forget what’s going one.

Mike:               If you’re a student, can you cheat the system?  Are you finding students trying to get a way around that, having to answer five questions before they can level up?  Are they trying to shortcut the system somehow or something like that?

Adam:             No.  I haven’t had any students figure out how they can shortcut the system yet.  The only real way I’ve seen that a student could potentially cheat is to just plug the questions into a calculator and things like that instead of trying to work it out by hand.  I mean it’s possible but it’s no different to a regular class where a student might do that with the textbook.

Mike:               Yeah, right.  Okay, that’s good.

Adam:             The students really get into as well.  They get really competitive with each other and they try to race to see who can get the most points the fastest and there is a bit of a competitive nature.  Because of that nature and because of the points they get and the feedback that they get straightaway it’s extremely amazing.  I’ve seen a few year 10 boys who maybe aren’t necessarily that engaged with their math and now all of a sudden they’re yelling at their screen and pumping their fist in the air in excitement because they’re getting these questions right or they’re getting the questions wrong or whatever.

They’re actually starting to get a bit passionate about it and they’re doing these things at home as well.  They’re going home and spending half an hour on the program just to try to earn enough points to beat their friends.  I don’t care if their reason is that they want to beat the points, at the end of the day, they’re doing extra math work.  They’re getting extra practice.

Blake:              Yeah, exactly.  Adam, can we get you to flip back to your camera there.  Just click off that screen share again.  It’s causing a bit of a delay there.  It really is a different way of thinking about it.  I think the kids get a kick out of it especially with the achievement side of things.  Have you seen any sort of negatives to using the product?  I mean is there something that you don’t have enough control over your class or is there any issues like that?

Adam:             There have been a few little drawbacks to it with classroom management.  One thing that I have found is that because you’re interacting a fair bit less you’re not up in front of the classroom; you’re not talking to the students as a whole class.  You do have to get used to the fact that for a lot of the lesson you’re staring at the backs of monitors and you got a whole bunch of kids with their headphones plugged in and they’re just staring at a screen.  And even though they are engaged in their work, that was a little bit confronting and that took a little while for me to get used to.

I mean you want the students watching most of the videos at home.  I want to try to make this a proper flipped classroom so they’re not just doing everything in school, they’re watching the videos at home and then they’re doing the exercises in class and coming up to ask for help.  That’s one thing that has been a little bit tricky because often you’ll get students coming in and they’ll say, “Oh no, I didn’t watch any of the videos at home so I need to watch them here.”  But, like I said, this is the first time we’ve run this as a subject so it’s going to be a bit of a trial and error for the start.

As far as management, one thing, of course, if you give a whole bunch of students laptops and say, “There you go, you go and do the work on your own pace.”  You’ve got to be really vigilant to make sure that there aren’t a few kids sneaking in a Skype conversation with their girlfriend in the next classroom or anything like that.  There have been a few cases like that but because we’re using the Hapara app it means I can see their screen at all times and if I see that they’re doing the wrong thing I can shutdown whatever they’re not meant to be doing and I can send them a message or go over and have a chat to them, something like that.

Mike:               This is an American-based website, right?  Have you found the content has come across into the Australian curriculum?  Obviously there are teachers from New Zealand watching.  How do you line all that up?

Adam:             It was a bit of a challenge because not all of the topics are taught in the same way.  In some cases it’s identical.  In some cases they might just use a slightly different word more often than we do.  So we would be inclined to use the word gradient whereas it looks like in the videos they’re using the word slope a fair bit more.  It’s not a big deal.  In fact, you can consider that a positive because it means the students are learning new terminologies and they’re seeing what it’s like from a different country.

There have been a couple of little topics where I’ve looked at the way it’s done on the Kahn Academy and it is handled differently here and so when it has come to that I’ve just said to the students we’re not going to use Kahn Academy for this topic, I’ll just teach you the traditional way.  It’s not that it’s taught badly on the Kahn Academy or incorrectly, it doesn’t really sync with the way we want the students to be doing it.

What you do need to do, if you’re going to set something up like this yourself, you do need to go through the videos on your own and watch them and make sure that they are okay.  Go through the quizzes on your own.  Make sure they are actually testing skills that you want the students to have.

It does take a bit of time.  What I did was I just before every topic I just spend an hour or so doing that myself, but once I’ve done that I don’t need to do that again.  So I am completely happy with the way matrixes are taught, for example.  I know that I can just leave that alone and let the students do that in their own time.

Mike:               What percentage of – I mean it’s an elective class, but what percentage of that class is taught through Kahn and what percentage would be taught through textbook or learning or whatever strategies you might have?

Adam:             Well at the moment I am doing 100 percent with the Kahn Academy except for the odd little bit where, for example, circle functions.  I didn’t really like the way it was handled on the Kahn Academy so I did that myself.

At the moment they’re doing introduction to differential calculus and now that the previous class about half of the kids said to me that they were really struggling to understand the ways explained in the videos so I just gave them my own introduction to it and then the kids went, “Oh, okay, now we get it.  Now we feel confident enough to go and do this ourselves.”

Blake:              With the circular function stuff, sorry, with the circular functions the kids are still going to see that module there aren’t they?  So are some of them just going off and doing that themselves or you’re saying well I am doing it we don’t need you to avoid that and they generally avoid that area?

Adam:             What I said to the kids was I decided, after going through it myself, to just scrap it completely and just completely handle it myself, teach them myself, give them questions myself.  Yes, some of the kids went on and just watched the videos on their own time and did some of the questions for themselves as well.  Some of the more motivated students.

Blake:              Did extra work.

Adam:             Yeah, exactly.  I mean that’s a funny thing.  You give kids work out of a textbook it’s a rare student that goes and actually just does extra things on their own but when they’re doing this stuff on the computer, it’s like it’s not math anymore, they’re just playing a game.  They are having fun.  They’re earning points.  So they are going in and doing whatever.  I’m walking around and I can see what type of things the students have done and some of them are going and doing really easy things.

The Kahn Academy is set up to cover the entire I think American curriculum from kindergarten up to U12.  So you can go and get a Kahn Academy lesson on how to count to ten.  I’ve got students sitting there watching videos on how to count to ten and they’re doing quizzes on how to count to ten just to get a few extra points.  But at the same time, you’re also getting students going and doing videos on proper series mathematical concepts that I haven’t told them to do. I don’t need them to do it because it’s not part of the syllabus but they are just deciding to go and learn that stuff themselves anyway.

Mike:               How much extra – like when I first hear about Kahn Academy, as a teacher, to be honest I wasn’t that interested in it because my mindset around it was too much work, too much effort.  I’m already busy and I probably can’t get my head around the fact that I’ve got to now teach a different way, go to a different place.  I had a mindset about that.

How hard is it?  Can you start to teach using Kahn Academy and that flip learning model without a whole lot of extra work?  Initially my mindset was also I had to go create all the content; I had to make the videos, put together the worksheets.  It sounds like it’s almost a done for you service.  How much extra work is there in it?

Adam:             Not very much at all.  When I started to trial some flip learning stuff, I went and got myself a graphics tablet and I started making videos on my own and I think after about a week or two I thought what am I doing?  I am spending an hour to put together a 10-minute video and how many of these videos do I need to put together.  Surely somebody else has already done them.  With the videos on the Kahn Academy they’re already there.  I don’t need to worry about coming up with them myself.

The videos they get updated so every now and again you’ll see, I think the first few videos he made were really low quality and so they have been going on a process and going and going and remaking them as well.  So they’re constantly updating things and when people find errors in the videos, you can flag that error and then when they get to it they’ll go and redo the whole video to fix that.

But as far as extra work, there has been hardly anything at all to be honest.  I had to go and play around with the website for a while.  They’ve got a lot of really good coaching resources so when you make up an account you say I’m a teacher, which is completely free by the way.  They’ve got a whole bunch of sort of step-by-step guides on how you can set it up, how do you set up a class, how can you run it.  They’ve got examples of different teachers around the world saying this is how I run it as a classroom.

So some teachers like me are doing it exclusively.  Some teachers are using it as just a bit of extra stuff.  Some teachers are using the videos but not the quizzes.  Some are using the quizzes and not the videos.  All different age groups.  Whatever you want, they got guides on how to do it.

Setting up the classroom was so easy.  All I needed were the students’ email addresses and because of the system we are using with Compass and Hapara, that was really easy to just copy and paste all their email addresses.  Went onto the Kahn Academy, made a class, pasted them in, hit go and within five seconds every single kid in the room had been given a link to it and Kahn Academy synched up with Google and Facebook so the kids already have their Google accounts through the school so I just had the kids click this sign in with Google button, it automatically adds them to my class and I’m good to go.

Blake:              It seems pretty good and also the quality of the videos I think is the big one.  When I looked at this service a few years back, three or four years ago, it probably had half the amount of videos in there but they are known to be very engaging videos and I think that’s part of it.

This is why we go and see blockbuster films because the Kahn Academy have these resources and big money behind doing what they’re doing versus you as a teacher trying to sort it out on your own.  Obviously they’re going to get a better result and something that’s more engaging and better across the board.  From that point of view, things are great.

But where I think they let themselves down a bit was in the management side.  It was just a collection of videos but now perhaps it’s so fully fleshed out, I was very surprised.  I mean you were showing me earlier in the year all the graphs you can get with it.  It’ll show how and where each kid is at in the certain process and how much time they spent on a question even I think or on a topic.  You can break all that down and look at trends of the class to see weak points, everything.

From that point of view, that must lend you a tremendous amount of help when you are trying to identify weak points or what you need to go through to create tests and that sort of stuff.

Adam:             Yeah, I can go into an individual student and see exactly what areas they’re struggling with.  I can go into different topics and I can see which students are struggling in that as well.  I can go through and I can go okay the dependent probability section, a lot of kids are struggling in that one.  If they get enough questions wrong they drop down from below practice into struggling and it comes up as red.  So I can see that clearly.

That might say to me okay a few students are struggling on this so maybe I should go and do, maybe I’ll do a little class just so those kids that are struggling I’ll get them up in front of the room and I’ll do something with them more.  Maybe I’ll just do something with the whole class.  It really lets me pinpoint the weak areas but it also lets me pinpoint the strong areas.  I can say this topic, the kids are picking this up incredibly quickly so this is something that I know that I probably don’t need to spend a huge amount of time on but this topic over here I need to spend more time than I would have normally.

Blake:              How is that, in terms of results, can you draw any early conclusions about how the students have picked it up in comparison to previous years or anything like that?

Adam:             Given this isn’t the first time I’ve run this subject but it is the first time I’ve done it with the Kahn Academy.  I feel like I am getting through more content.  It is my feeling.  It seems like and I can’t say this quantitatively but it feels like the students are getting through more material than they normally would be and students are getting to a point where they are understanding the work.

I think a the start of the year with matrixes, normally it would have taken me maybe a week longer to get them up to that point that they were.  I am looking at them going okay this is extra time that I can then spend on getting them to do other topics in there.  I am getting through a lot more work, which is really good and I think if I push it, if I really try to enforce so you watch the videos at home, you do the work at school, I may then be able to get even more time out of it as well.

Blake:              How is that going?  How is the blending learning going?  You’re not totally flipped.  You still do some instruction in the classroom and things like that.  How is that working out?

Adam:             It has been okay.  I only really do my own instruction when the case calls for it like when I didn’t want them to learn it off the Kahn Academy just because of the way they taught it or when they were struggling to understand the Kahn Academy.

The biggest real issue with that side of things has been what the students want.  I survey the class.  I use a Google form just to get the students to write down and let me know exactly how they were feeling about it.  Most of the students enjoy doing it that way, learning at their own pace, learning on the computer.  There are a couple of students of course who say they would prefer to do it the traditional way.

I think I might have to try to blend it in a bit as well because I don’t want those students feeling alienated or feeling like they are not getting as much out of it.  It does also, if you’re getting the students to do it entirely themselves, it does require a lot more discipline on the students’ part.  The student needs to be able to say I am just going to watch these videos.  I am not going to jump onto chat.  I am not going to jump onto Skype or play flappy birds or whatever.  I am just going to focus on exactly what I need to be doing.

One thing that I did incorrectly, when I started this, was for first semester I thought I’ll try it this way and first semester I just gave them I think four topics and I said there you go, learn this, these are what you need to do and at the end of the semester we’ll have a little exam on them.  That didn’t work.  It was okay but the students gave me feedback afterwards and they said they struggled not having a strict timeline.

They said what they would have preferred is if I just said here is one topic, you got three weeks and then at the end of that three weeks here is another topic you’ve got two weeks to do it.  I was a bit surprised by that because that sort of goes against the self-pace idea but in some ways it still lets them do it self-pace because even though they know they’ve only got two or three weeks to do it, it means that the individual topics within that unit they can do those ones at their own pace.

When we’re doing matrixes, if they are really struggling with the multiplying the matrix by a matrix, they can afford to spend a few days on it instead of in a classroom that might just be one or two days and then it might mean that they have to spend a bit more time at home trying to catch up but if they don’t, in a regular classroom, if they don’t understand what the teacher has explained on the board, if they don’t understand it then it makes it really hard for them.

They then have got to try to catch up with the teacher afterwards, go through it a second time or try to teach themselves.  With the Kahn Academy videos, if they don’t understand the video, they can just replay it and they can watch it a second time, if they’re at home and don’t have access to me.

Blake:              And there’s complimentary videos as well usually, isn’t there?  There is sort of other resources they can go and look at as well.

Adam:             You mean like outside the Kahn Academy?

Blake:              No, internally.  Like if you’re struggling with the concept usually there’s other videos like it’ll say offer me some hints and it’ll give you three or four resources to go to.

Adam:             Yes, so there will usually be always at least one but sometimes there might be three or four videos on a particular little skill and then after that they might have a couple of examples.  In each of those videos they have examples but then they might have a few more where they say okay here is a question from the Kahn Academy website, let’s go through step by step how you should actually work on this.

Mike:               If you’re only using this with your elective class, have you got any plans to roll it out to your other classes that you’re teaching?

Adam:             Not at this stage because the other classes it’s a much stricter curriculum.  We have to get through the exact right things at the exact right time and we’ve got to all be ready to test at the same time and give the exact same test.

I have set other classes up to use the Kahn Academy but the way I use that is just a bit of an additional resource.  All of my math classes have either a Chromebook or just a regular laptop.  What I’ve done is set it up for students that have finished their work early in class rather than jumping onto the next topic or just getting bored and distracting others I say okay you can jump onto the Kahn Academy then and I’ll let them just have a free reign of it.  As long as they’re doing math stuff on the Kahn Academy, I don’t mind what they’re doing.  Anything that’s still stimulating their math ability and giving them a little bit more practice.

Sometimes I’ve also, if a student just as a bit of an extra resource so they might say can I please have some extra practice in this topic and I’ll say, “Okay, go onto the Kahn Academy.”  I can even make a recommendation.  I can log into my account, I can go to that student, I can look at them on skill I want them to practice and I can click a button that will recommend it to them so then when they log in next time they’ll get a little message from me popping up that says, “Your teacher has recommended that you do these skills.”  I can do things like that.

For the mainstream classes though, I am not going to switch over to the Kahn Academy because it’s just a bit more control and a bit more restricted in what we have to do but because the subject I am doing the Kahn Academy it’s a complete elective, all I need to do is sort of teach them a few skills in order to get them ready for methods.  That’s what this subject is because the gap from year 10 to year 11 math is a really big one.  I am just giving them an introduction to some of the skills so that when they get into next year they are a bit more prepared.  It does give me a lot more freedom to run it how I want, which is exactly why I have tried the Kahn Academy.

Mike:               But you could supplement some of your teaching with that, right?  You could, like if I was going to teach a year 8 science lesson, I could go find some Kahn Academy resources and do two or three lessons on that just to supplement.  That would still work okay?

Adam:             Yeah, absolutely.  I mean if I wanted to and because I am still just trying this with the one class, I don’t want to sort of overload myself by trying it with too many things at once, I could absolutely say that the kids, if I wanted to, tomorrow instead of me teaching this topic on the board, here is a link to a couple of videos, you go on and watch those videos and then tomorrow we’ll spend 100 percent of the lesson just working on questions and doing activities together and things like that instead of me having to spend the first 20 minutes teaching it to them.

That’s absolutely something I can do.  I mean of course there are drawbacks.  You get the students coming in the next day saying, “Sorry I forgot to watch it or I had soccer practice or the more common excuse the Internet wasn’t working.”  There are a little drawbacks like that and when I have spoken about this to other teachers, they say but couldn’t you have a problem with this and couldn’t this be a problem and couldn’t kids just do this and I say, “Yeah, there are things that the kids could do that you don’t want them doing.

There are ways kids could just not do the work or get around things but it’s no different to a regular classroom.”  A student could sit there on their Chromebook not doing any of the math work but they could be sitting there in front of their textbook not doing the math work.

A student could go home and fail to watch one of the videos or the student could also go home and refuse to do any of the homework.  Like I said at the start, it doesn’t add additional issues, it just takes the issues you’ve got in a classroom and changes them around a little bit.  You’ve just got to be willing to improvise and you just have to practice a little because your classroom management strategies are going to have to change.  There’s no way around that.

Blake:              I’m interested to know across the integration side of things now.  This doesn’t integrate with Google Apps as far as I am aware at all but setting up the classroom is easy enough.  You just past it in.

Adam:             There is a Kahn Academy Google app but all it does is take you to the website.

Blake:              Okay, like a chrome map.

Adam:             But it is linked in with Google and with Facebook so if a student wants to make an account, there is a button when they log in that just says log in with Google or log in with Facebook.

Blake:              If a student does that and they sign in with Google and they’re using your year 10 class, as an example, but they’re also doing year 10 biology or something or science, do you see those results against that student as well?  Do they sort of get experience across everything and those achievements go across everything like what is it sort of separate out your stuff specifically?  How does that work?

Adam:             I am not 100 percent sure on that because I am the only teacher doing it so far.  What I think happens is all of the points that they earn just go onto their accounts.  All of the exercises they do as well, I think I can still look at a student and I can see everything they’re doing.

So if I notice that a student has done some, they’ve watched a chemistry video or they’ve done a little computer programming exercise, I can see that but when I am going into the student just for myself what I can do is at the start of the year I went through every skill that I wanted them to learn and I just clicked recommend this to the students.  Then I can now go and I can just click and say give me the data on only the skills that I recommended.

Blake:              Then you can weed out like that.

Adam:             I can see how each student – yeah, I can weed all of those things out.  There are a few people have tried to talk Kahn Academy into doing this.  They haven’t done it yet and actually they said they weren’t going to do it but we sort of hopefully are trying to change their mind is the ability to just create a big list of all the skills and videos you want a student to watch and save that.

At the moment, when I get my new class at the start of term 3, I am going to have to go and sort of search for and recommend every single one of those skills individually again.  We’re trying to get the Kahn Academy to make it so we can save it and I can just click Mr. B’s year 10 advance math class and it will just bulk send all of it.

They do have these things call missions where you can say, “I want you to do the algebra mission or I want you to do the U.S. Grade 7 mission.”  What that will do is that will just give them specific things to do.  The only drawback to that is it doesn’t sync in with our curriculum, our syllabus and it doesn’t sink in with what I want to do.  For my purposes, it’s a bit useless.  Maybe for teachers in New Zealand, England, anywhere else, that might not work either.  In U.S. it’s obviously fine.

For now, we just sort of got to do it the long way.  What Kahn Academy actually recommends teachers do is they just type up a list of all of the skills and videos they want students to watch and then they just hand out that list to the students and get them to do it themselves, which is in no way an efficient way of doing it.  But at the moment, that’s the only option there is.  Hopefully they will fix that in the future.

Blake:              We’ve got a few questions here and certainly if you’ve got any questions on Kahn Academy we have the Q&A app running so shoot those questions through.  The first one is from a friend of mine, Rebecca, from University of Adelaide.  She is saying for classes who are unable to provide laptops for each student, is it possible for students to work in pairs, small teams or rotations or what other strategies could you employ?

Adam:             Well I’ve actually found some of my students do work in teams just naturally.  I didn’t tell them to do it.  I didn’t suggest that they do it.  They’ve just started doing it themselves.  If they and the person next to them wants to watch the exact same video, I’ll often see students where they’ve got their headphones plugged in.  They’re sharing the same headphone and they’re just watching the video on one student’s screen.

As far as the quizzes and answering the questions goes, if you’re happy to have the students work on them together, that’s fine.  They can come up with their own answers; they can discuss it as a team and do that.  The only issue with that is that if two students are sharing one computer it would only be logged into one student’s account and then you might have students fighting over whose account gets logged into. Whose account is going to get all of the points for that lesson?  But if you’re not too worried about that, if all you want is them to watch the videos, go through the quizzes and practice material themselves, then they can work two to a computer fine.

Blake:              Obviously the advantage here is if you want to flip your classroom you can get them to do the exercises at home and then you can look at their progress throughout the term.

Adam:             Yep, absolutely.  All they need is to have Internet access at home.  If you want them to do that, that’s fine.  You can set this stuff as homework.  You can say, “I want you to watch this video at home.  I want you to do this quiz at home.”  Then you can see the next day whether or not they’ve done it.

I mean in fact you can see everything.  You can see how many seconds they looked at a question for, what answer they put in, was it the wrong answer, if it was the wrong answer did they then go for a hint, what hint did they use, how long did it take them to get the correct answer.  You can see everything.  More feedback than I’ve ever seen before as a teacher.

Blake:              It literally is overwhelming.

Mike:               How are they funding it?  Do they got advertising running inside it or is it sponsored?  Do you know what the funding model is?

Adam:             Yeah, it’s completely sponsored by donors.  They don’t have any advertising whatsoever.  So your email address you don’t get annoying spam emails.  Well actually I get weekly emails saying this is what your class has done but I never get any spam emails or anything like that.  They’ve just got donations.  I think Bill Gates was one of the first.

Blake:              He put a lot of money in.

Adam:             I think he originally – it started with the guy is really, really intelligent guy was tutoring I think it was a niece or a nephew something like that was tutoring one of the – in the States, so he was doing this live online for them and then the rest of his family started getting excited by this and he started doing it for big groups and saving those videos and putting them on YouTube and it just ended up blowing up.

These YouTube videos were getting hundreds of thousands of views and then I think some people came along and they said this is fantastic.  Here’s a lot of money, go and do this professionally, do this properly to help everybody.  The idea of it is such a fantastic philosophy is that this is free education for everybody in the world.  All you need is Internet access.

They’re trying to get them translated into other languages as well so it’s not just for English speaking countries.  There is a really nice support network.  Go on there you can ask questions on every single video you stuck a lot of people are really happy to answer them.  It’s a really, really nice idea.

Like I said, they have got videos from kindergarten all the way up to U12.  Not that I would want to teach my own daughter how to count to ten by putting her front of a video, but it means that there is that option there. I hear a lot of parents come to me in parent-teacher interviews and they say, “Oh my student is really struggling at home, I don’t know anything about math myself, should I get my child a tutor?”  Give them a bit of extra support and now I can say, “Well look, before you start paying money for expensive tutors, why don’t you consider this idea,” which is a bit of an extra resource for them to try.

Blake:              And that’s really powerful that it can reach us here in the first world but also have implications for self-learners in the third world.  Giving them the access to how to learn how to count to ten and that sort of stuff in different regions.  It’s a crazy undertaking.

I think to answer your question, Mike, I think it’s funding by people like Bill Gates, who I believe put in a lot of money and they just get to sort of make the best materials they can and build this whole system around it where it’s really focused on kids retaining the learning, not just learning it and forgetting it.  It really focuses on the retaining it side.  I think it’s a great way to sort of supplement your work or even to do what Adam is doing and go the whole hog and totally flip your classroom.

Adam:             And they’re constantly updating and working on things.  The videos are getting updated.  They’re putting in extra little features, suggestions that people make.  There have been a few where they’ve looked at and they’ve gone that’s actually a really good idea.  We are going to try to implement that.

They are adjusting based on how the American curriculum changes so they really are on the ball with it.  It is still very much American focused so that is something for us non Americans you do have to adjust a little bit to that but it’s by no means useless or overpowered in that way.  It’s still very usable around the world.

Mike:               Anna is saying, “Do you think you could use this for seniors?”  I am sure as long as you’re looking at teaching content that’s in the Kahn Academy you would be able to teach seniors.  It’s not about age, it’s about access to technology.  I’d assume the best thing, Anna, to do would be just go jump in.  I’m certainly inspired to go have a look.  It certainly sounds like it has changed a lot since I last looked at it.  I am really keen to dig in and have a bit of a look at it.

For those of you that are interested, Blake does have a few extra resources around this and Adam.  Blake maybe you can just tell people what you’ve got.

Blake:              Yeah, absolutely.  We’ve got and Mike will throw these in the show notes and we might even send out communication around it but there is a video with Adam going through all the stuff we’ve shot here at the school with how to set it up and what the key advantages were.  Definitely check that out.  We’ll send through the link that TedTalk as well with Salman Kahn, where he talks about how he got started and what his vision for Kahn Academy is and also I think Bill Gates gets up at the end and they have a little bit of a conversation so really great videos, one of the things that drove me to have a look at it years ago.

Also, just on another note, I have recently published an article just around Chromebooks, getting a lot of questions from schools and administrators around why we sort of made the decision to go with Chromebooks and what we’ve looked at and what our factors were and I’ll put that up on media, which is like a publishing platform.  I’ll put the link in there for that.  Definitely worth a read.

If you’ve got any questions around it and certainly if there is anything I don’t address in there, you can always catch me on Twitter or Google Plus or anything like that.  A few little extra resources there hopefully to allay some of the questions.

Mike:               Blake is definitely the guy to ask, if you’ve got technical questions around deployment of Google apps and get all your automation stuff working and so on.  He’s a real go to reference and resource for me personally.  I’m constantly sending him questions and asking and connecting him with schools.

If you’ve got any questions about your IT infrastructure, definitely Blake is your man for that.  He has got some great resources and got some great perspective around that as well, which is fantastic.

I’ll certainly put all that into the show notes and into the eval and if you are watching this on YouTube or you’re watching it by Google Plus and you haven’t yet registered, then what you want to do is you’ll see that there is a registration button or a link just in the description of this video and if you just register then you’ll get access to an email that gets sent out.

It’ll have the transcription, it’ll have an audio version of this, it’ll have a video and you can certainly use that to share it around with your staff to create some discussion.  Use it as a PD resource within your faculty and so on.  Couple things I want to just let you know about.  Next week I am at the EduTech in Brisbane, which is a big conference, technology conference in Brisbane.  I think it’s Australia’s largest technology I think.

Blake:              Yeah, it is a big one.

Mike:               It’s huge.  So I’ll be up there.  I am going to be speaking on the Google stage and also speaking at a 21st Century learning panel being hosted by Lenovo and a few different companies like that.  If you’re at EduTech, I’d love you to come up and say hi.  I love just meeting people face-to-face.

Obviously we’ve got an online community but if I can meet with you face-to-face that would be great so don’t be shy.  Come up and say hi.

If you are a teacher in Australia and you’re interested in deploying Google, then we have a bit of a Google Apps and a Chromebook showcase, which is happening in Sydney at Arthur Phillip High School.  They are a Department of Education school that have done their own Google deployment, got their Chromebooks running, about seven or eight hundred of them, and so if you want to see how a department school is running an online learning curriculum and then using Chromebooks well, then let me know about that and we’ll see if we can squeeze you in.  I think that almost registered out but let me know and we can certainly get trying to squeeze you into that one, which would be great.

Blake:              You’re not flying to New Zealand?  You’re not flying around the world somewhere, somewhere exotic?  You’ve got nothing for us?

Mike:               Just Brisbane this time.  Brisbane and then back to Sydney.  That’s all good.  Adam, I just want to thank you for being a part of today’s show.  It has been really good to hear about what you’re doing.  I love it that we’ve got a math teacher who is using technology.  Personally when I go and speak to high schools, a lot of the math teachers go I can’t use technology with math, it’s too hard.  I appreciate the fact that you’re digging in, that all your students are using Chromebooks, that you are using technology.  I take my hat off to you, mate.  That’s fantastic to see you doing that.

Adam:             Thanks.

Mike:               I’m really keen to just continue to learn from you, watch you from the sidelines and see what you got going on.  That’s cool.

Thanks for coming along and watching.  If you’ve got any questions by all means shoot them through on email.  In a fortnights time we’ll be doing another E-Learning Conversation so keep an eye out in your inbox.  We’ll announce who that is going to be and how you can register for that one as well.  Hope you have a great week and we hope to see you soon.

Blake:              See you guys.

Adam:             Bye.

Update: we are interviewing Andrew Douch.  Andrew has been flipping his classroom before the term was called flippin’


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