Thursday, May 24, 2012

Khan Academy’s Badges

Khan Academy just released a badge API for Facebook, allowing users to push their badges to a Facebook display on their timeline. You can also share by email and Tweet. Khan still doesn’t interface with the Mozilla Open Backpack, but, hopefully, it will soon. 

Since I joined Khan, six months ago, it has undergone a few major and minor revisions in its badge earning system. The practice constellation or “knowledge map” has changed icons a few times, and I am no longer sure which mods I’ve completed. 

Instead of the “streak bar” they have moved to leaves and problem cards. 

No matter how the system looks or works, I’m still addicted to earning badges, even if they are for simple things like exponents (all of the practice badges are for math problems/skills). I have earned the Picking Up Steam badge 36 times. I’d like to someday earn a Sun badge, or even a mysterious Black Hole badge. These are very challenging, which is something that speaks to the difficulty of earning some of the badges at Khan. 

I like the patient way the videos explain topics such as Chromosomes, Chromatids, Chromatin, etc. (coming in at just over 18 minutes) and the helpful question and answer sections at the bottom, which sometimes lead to videos like Ape Clarification- that they have no tails. I usually stick to the biology videos and have earned a few such badges, but wish for little quizzes at the end of each video to test if my knowledge is badge worthy. 

I don’t know if I will push my badges to Facebook, but I like the idea that I could. In the meantime, I might share a few on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Open Disruption

By now the word is out about Harvard and MIT’s partnership, edX, which will offer $60 million in free online courses.  Open courses aren’t new; MIT piloted their OpenCourseWare almost ten years ago in 2002.  Other institutions have been offering open courses all along, too.  The Chronicle recently published a comparison chart.  The chart isn’t inclusive of all of the open efforts going on at colleges and universities (particularly those in the UK), but it gives a snapshot of a few different US models.  David Brooks is calling the mass of online and open offerings “The Campus Tsunami.”

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been creating quite the disruption to the traditional classroom, too.  What about the MOOC professor?  Will MOOCs lead to this?

Knewton, which offers personalized math readiness programs for higher education, released this infographic on “The Flipped Classroom.”  The infographic, a trend in learning itself, touches on a few areas of open: mainly the ideas of multiple entry and exit points, collaboration, and digital media.  Although the program isn’t free, it provides an interesting disruption (and business) model for open that goes beyond Khan Academy’s videos.  They also have one on blended learning.

In case you missed it: