Monday, March 19, 2012

Khan Academy: Forgetaboutit.

Go ahead, flip your classroom.  Learn to make your own Khan Academy styled videos for free.

Bill Gates loves the Khan Academy and CBS/60 Minutes has just brought them into the public conscientiousness with a recent feature story. (see the whole video below).

The Flipped Classroom concept is not new; it was not developed by Sal Khan, but with millions of dollars in support from the likes of Google, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, he is doing a pretty good job defining it.

The rest of the article is continued below the infographic.

Flipped Classroom Infographic

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

I may be in the vast minority of educators that actually like the Khan Academy videos.  If I need to learn a new concept, I always turn to the Internet (anything from a forgotten Algebra concept to installing a bathroom vanity). I much prefer video tutorials to text directions; they fit my learning style better. I am also an intrinsically motivated learner.  This is may not be the case for your students.  Most students are not intrinsically motivated to learn something that is not directly relevant to their life.  Also, this form of content delivery may not fit a students preferred learning style.  This is where blended learning comes into play (which is a story for another day).  Khan can not replace teachers; his approach focuses on one leaning style,  it doesn't allow for higher order thinking, application, or discussion.   It can however be one ingredient in a student's personal education plan.

For what it is, Khan does work.  As an educator we would be foolish not to use it, or at least  "borrow" a chapter from their book. Khan is not high tech by any stretch of the imagination.   Sal Khan uses basic software to create his videos and so can you. Khan uses Smoothdraw 3 (free) as his digital whiteboard, Camtasia ($) to record his videos and a Wacom slate ($) to write. He then uploads the videos to his website, but he got his start uploading them to Youtube. This is nothing more than fancy screencasting.

Khan videos do not cover all subjects.  They are very basic, and may not fit perfectly with your curriculum.  The solution?  Make your own Khan inspired videos using a number of free tools.

1. The Hardware (the only part that is not free).  If you feel like you need to write in your screencast, your trusty old mouse is not going to cut it.  You may need a slate of some sort.  Forget that fancy Wacom tablet.  Head on over to and pick up a basic graphics tablet ($15).  If you are going to record on your desktop pc (most newer laptops have them built in), you may want to pick up a microphone ($4) too. * I do not work for Monoprice, they just offer a quality product and a very reasonable price.  They also have special education pricing and will accept a purchase order.

2.  The Software.  This part could be endless as we have so many options, so I will list a few that I have had personal success with.

  • Khan uses Smoothdraw 3.  I have personally never tried it, but obviously it works.  
  • Camstudio is a free screen recording software tool that you could use instead of Camtasia.  
  • Jing limits you to 5 minutes, but it is records, uploads, and stores all in one place. A personal favorite. 
  • Screenr is very similar to Jing, but it is browser based, no download required.
  • Screencast-o-matic - Browser based screen recorder like Screenr.  You can record for 15 minutes at a time with a free account or get unlimited recording time and more for only $15 a year.  Very impressive tool all around.  
  • Sketchcast is an online whiteboard.  Record and store your  videos all in one place. 
  • ShowMe (iPad app).  I had to add this one. If you have an iPad, this free app gives you a digital whiteboard, records your voice, and even uploads and stores your recording on their website.
Many more options are available.  Please feel free to suggest your favorites in the comments section.

3. Storage /Sharing.  While most of the screencasting tools above store your screencast, you may consider embedding them on a blog , Google site, or Edmodo group/class (Khan has an Edmodo Community that you can join for free.  In that community they have tons of math videos you can add to your Library).    If you decide to go the traditional (Khan way) and use Smoothdraw and Camstudio you will need to upload them.  For that I would suggest Schooltube or Teachertube over Youtube. They are both free, easy to use, and safe.  

Happy Screencasting. 


Laura Beckham said...

Great post! I use Screencastomatic for my videos. It's quick, and your videos can be up to 15 minutes. If you pay 12 dollars for the pro version, you get even more features.

Jason Mammano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Mammano said...

Yes, Screencast-o-matic has made some major improvements over the past few years. They are a a great choice.

Heather Peretz said...

If using an iPad the educreations app is also a great option.

Jason Mammano said...

Very cool. I have always used showme on the iPad, but educreations appears to have more features. Thank you.

Christina Gutierrez said...

And I love Explain Everything. Only about $3 and has all the positives from showme and educreations.

jrlinds said...

Greetings, enjoyed this blog. I have several apps for screencasting on the iPad. My favorite is educreation. I like it best b/c I can add photos onto the whiteboard. Therefore, I can create a keynote presentation take a photo of each slide and add it to my whiteboard, pretty cool! Some other tools are replay note, show me, explain everything, and show me. Try for yourself and see which ones you prefer.

Jason Mammano said...

Here is nice post about whiteboard recording apps for the iPad. All of the above and few more are listed. Thank you all for sharing.

I would love to have an app that will record everything on the ipad screen (like screenr). An app did slip through a few weeks ago by the name of Display Recorder, but it is no longer available.


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