Flipping the classroom
Sep 17th 2011 | LOS ALTOS | from the print edition
Hopes that the internet can improve teaching may at last be bearing fruit
THE 12-year-olds filing into Courtney Cadwell’s classroom at Egan Junior High in Los Altos, a leafy suburb of Silicon Valley, each take a white MacBook from a trolley, log on to a website called KhanAcademy.org and begin doing maths exercises. They will not get a lecture from Ms Cadwell, because they have already viewed, at home, various lectures as video clips on KhanAcademy (given by Salman Khan, its founder). And Ms, logged in as a “coach”, can see exactly who has watched which. This means that class time is now free for something else: one-on-one instruction by Ms Cadwell, or what used to be known as tutoring.
Egan初中坐落于硅谷郊外郁郁葱葱的洛斯拉图斯，那里12岁的孩子们选了Courtney Cadwell老师的课程，他们每个人都从手推车里拿一部白色笔记本电脑，然后登陆到KhanAcademy.org网站去做数学题。Cadwell老师用不着再给他们上课，因为学生们已经在家看过了Khan教育网站上的各种授课视频（该网站得名于其创始人Salman Khan）。Cadwell老师以“指导老师”的身份登陆便可以对每位同学的学习进度了如指掌。这样一来，课堂时间就可以留作他用，Cadwell老师可以给学生们作一对一的指导，也就是相当于平常说的家教。
So Ms Cadwell, in her own web browser, pulls up a dashboard where KhanAcademy’s software presents, through the internet, the data the children are producing at that instant. She can view information for the entire class or any individual pupil. Just then she sees two fields, representing modules, turning from green to red, one for Andrea, the other for Asia. Ms Cadwell sees that Andrea is struggling with exponents, Asia with fractions. “Instead of having to guess where my students have gaps, I can see it, at that moment, and I walk over to that one student,” says Ms Cadwell, as she arrives at Asia’s chair.
While the other pupils continue to work at their own pace and at different problems, Ms Cadwell now spends a few minutes just with Andrea and Asia. Soon Andrea has an epiphany and starts firing correct answers, getting, in KhanAcademy’s jargon, a “badge”, then going “transonic”. A few minutes later, Asia also gets a “streak”. She lets out a shriek. Ms Cadwell, with a big smile, is off to another pupil. “The growth in these kids is just staggering,” she says. “This is the future. I don’t see how it couldn’t be.”