Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Response: My Thoughts on Codecademy

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However, [video distribution] efforts continue to fail to make a positive change in education because each fails to recognize that the problem lies not the distribution and availability of lectures, but in lecturing itself [..] [W]hile I agree completely with Khan's recommendation that instructors move away from the podium and into the role of coach, there are more and better ways to flip the classroom [..]

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Wrong - Access is still problem #1, in US and especially in the developing world. If a student is willing to learn, the biggest hurdle they face is access, not lack of pretty animations. These students should get access to quality content from quality researchers. My position is "no transformation, only transmission" of teaching, and the transmission part should be measured in millions, hopefully in an open-access, open-source form where people vote up and down of content they like / dislike, and crowdsourcing around such content should be possible, i.e. providing translations, code examples in different languages, answers to questions, forums etc. There is amazing potential here.

From my experience technological solutions work best when they are based on previous established technologies. Unix is based on C. iPhone is based on Unix. Apps are based on iPhone. And on and on. There is nothing wrong with teaching as it has been pursued for centuries. Now we take that "technology" and scale it up to millions, and willing kids will suck that in like a sponge. Others.. won't. But I am not going to waste time to provide "Learn Calculus with Sponge Bob" animation to such kids who have zero interest in learning such subjects. You cannot save everyone. But we should provide to everyone who is willing.

In other words, my focus is on the researcher, whatever they are willing to part with, I'll take it. I'll drink that shit like it's Kool-Aid. The infrastructure should be built around such people and it should only worry about to scaling up their content, period. If said system can incentivize more people to publish more content, even better.

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