Khan Academy Explores Hands-On Learning

The Khan Academy is well known for its online video lectures, which have the potential to free up time for more hands-on learning in the classroom. In their Discovery Lab summer camp, Khan Academy staff experimented with project-based learning activities to build better student engagement.

The Khan Academy is well known for its online video lectures, which have the potential to free up time for more hands-on learning in the classroom. In their Discovery Lab summer camp, Khan Academy staff experimented with project-based learning activities to build better student engagement.

Release Date: 12/19/12

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Find more information about Khan Academy's Discovery Lab.

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Transcript

Khan Academy Explores Hands-On Learning (Transcript)

Minli Virdone: It feels great to get students engaged. Innately, I believe that they're already engaged. And what we're trying to do is just inspire and really make the topics really interesting so students get excited about learning more.

Karl Wendt: We've got robotics. And there's going to be trading games and stock market -- it's going to be amazing. Today it starts off fun and it gets even better.

Minli: Welcome, welcome, to the Discovery Lab.

Karl: You guys excited to be here?

Students: Yeah!

Karl: All right!

Minli: Well done, well done. So we're really excited to have you here.

Minli: At Khan Academy, we felt that we needed to have our own version of the Summer Camp, because we had so many ideas that we wanted to test out. What we're really driving towards is individualized and mastery-based learning. One would think that a Khan Academy Summer Camp could be just be kids sitting in front of their computers watching videos. There are videos, and videos are extremely important to help students with self-paced learning. But that goes hand-in-hand with hands-on projects and activities that really drive the intuition, and really get people excited. The discovery lab will include robotics, computer science, mathematical geometry, probability and economics. And even more things that we'll add in.

Student: I'll give you a dice.

Sal Khan: Based on this, do you think countries should trade with each other?

Students: Yes.

Sal: So why should they trade with each other?

Student: Well, maybe we could trade to prevent wars.

Sal: Well, you brought out an interesting point that a lot of people do bring up between trading countries, that it often makes the countries more stable. If we're reliant on your country for our food, and you're reliant on us for your oil, we're not likely to go to war with each other, because we need each other. You know, it's fascinating, people do PhDs on this.

Sal: You can't learn these things with lectures. You have to learn -- pretty much almost everything you have to learn by doing it, by struggling with it, I mean, because that's what the real world is. The real world, you just engage, you jump into and experience. And your brain starts to draw connections, your brain starts to struggle with it and says, "Well, hey, how does this work? Can I see any patterns here? Can I make any reason out of it?"

Minli: And the other thing that's really important that's not content-based, is resilience. These topics are complex topics. And students are going to have to work really hard to be successful, and they just have to try and try again. The summer camp is one of those places where we can allow them to try and try again, because we're not set by a particular date where you have to have an examination. We'll say, "We'll give you tools to guide you, but you have to learn how to figure this out."

Karl: Right now we're going to assemble a three-dimensional version of Sierpinski's triangle, which is a fractal.

Karl: It's a chance to take a two-dimensional construct and go into three dimensions and give the students a chance to sort of experience it in a way that they probably wouldn't if they were just learning about it in a textbook.

Mohan: In school, I've heard about this stuff, I've read about it, but I never did it. But today, I've been doing it, and now I can honestly see what it is.

Julia: It's more interactive, and you're doing more stuff. You're not sitting down with a piece of paper and a textbook doing math problems. It's more fun here.

Karl: As we get further along, they'll get a chance to see math in a different way, because it's more applied and more hands-on.

I call them quadripoints.

I'm going to look cool...

Minli: There's something to be said about just doing it with your hands, and taking out the conceptual world, even though it doesn't necessarily translate into a immediate increase in test scores or anything like that. It does translate into some excitement in the student. And that is something that you don't measure very often, but it's still really important.

Students: Good! Woo!

Minli: Discovery Lab. It's a laboratory not only for the kids, but it's also for us at Khan Academy, because what's important for us is not to just run a summer camp. What's important is to understand what it is that works, and if we find activities that work really well, we can try it again in a different summer camp on a different setting. We believe that we can package this together simply, so that there's a curated set of projects that are high quality, highly interactive for teachers to immediately be able to use in the classroom.

Sal: This is all a work in progress. Khan Academy is a work in progress. The Summer Camp's a work in progress over the course of this year, but definitely by next summer. We're going to have summer camps that go much deeper. Summer camp in writing, summer camp in filmmaking, summer camp in music. We really want to explore the experiential side of things -- not just in traditional STEM subjects -- really across the board.

Minli: Great! Thank you everybody! Onward!

Credits

  • Director: Zachary Fink
  • Editor: Stanislav Basovich
  • Camera: Mario Furloni, Zachary Fink
  • Audio: Thomas Gorman
  • Digital Media Curator: Amy Erin Borovoy
  • Executive Producer: David Markus

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