CBS 60 Minutes this evening broadcast an interesting piece about the Khan Academy, #flippedclassrooms and responsive instruction. I was right with them until Google Chairman @EricScmidt said this (key line bolded, best to watch it in action – link below):
60mins: Eric Scmidt, the pioneering chairman of Google, says he’s seen a lot of failed attempts to integrate technology into education. But says what Sal Khan is doing is different
@EricScmidt: Many, many people think they are doing something new, but they are not really changing the approach. With Sal, he said, ‘what we’re going to do is not only are we gonna make these interesting 10 min videos, but we’re going to measure if whether it works or not.’
60min: He was the guy to sort of make this happen? Why do you think it was him and not some person who was an educator, who had a background in this area?
@EricSchmidt: Innovation never comes from the established institutions. It’s always a graduate students or a crazy person or somebody with a great vision. Sal is that person in education in my view. He built a platform. If that platform works it could completely change education in America.
Full video, the text does not do it justice (the interview happens at 11:25):
Mr. Chairman, I hate to say it but you are dead wrong, insultingly wrong, about educators.
Educators (who are probably some of @Google product’s biggest fans) are indeed innovators. What is the main difference between daily innovations and Khan Academy software? Funding. Bill Gates and Google (e.g. you) stumbled upon Khan’s youtube videos, (first made in his closet, by himself) and thought to fund it. Now, with a team, offices, software designers, backed by tons of financial support, Sal Khan can run as far as dreams can take him. I applaud him, don’t misconstrue my point here. I think he’s a really smart guy, doing really smart things, that hit a very lucky break that helps him continue to grow.
Imagine what could be possible if you funded more innovating educators.
Educators are innovators. For instance, the things you love about Khan Academy are not new. Could Google commit to funding more innovations from “established institutes” (e.g. classrooms, schools, universities) so they grow at the same impressive rate?
- Teachers and other “established institutions” are innovating student centered, not teacher centered, instruction. Thousands of teachers learn together, study together, read professionally together–and most importantly study students together–all to get better and better at seeing student work more clearly and responsively teach to it. What if you funded classroom educators enough to give them their own teams of helping hands to increase these innovations? Co-teachers, web designers, more time for professional conversations during the day?
- Flipped classrooms are everywhere, just one of many innovations “established” educators are studying. Use your own Google to google the term – there are Youtube channels, websites, blogs, teachers innovating ways of allowing students to spend more time on task in class and provide more student feedback along the way. What if you funded those educators trying to make more time for student practice in class? Or help us with our bigger stumbling block: connecting students who do not have access to the internet or technology at home. It’s a regular point of conversation and debate in the education community, helping students and families connect in a more connected world.
- Monitoring student progress and responding to it, a constantly innovating and developing practice led by “established” educators. A computer-based system is interesting, but, teachers have been innovating how to notice and record student achievement and respond to it way before screens. One example is what we call “conferring notes” and again, teachers have been studying these, perfecting these, all with the attempt to see student growth more clearly. Actually there is an app for that…but it started on your competitor’s devices. What if you funded teachers to develop and tailor their own systems for monitoring progress, instead of just creating a pre-packaged one way, why not fund ways of letting innovative educators innovate and build systems in real time?
- Teachers in “established” institutions, with low funds, often need to innovate to get the supplies their students need. I wrote about the “book gap” in our schools in an earlier post – why not fund additional supplies, not just tech, but books or science labs or math supplies, or music instruments or art?
- Teachers are innovating professional development. Use your own website to search for “edcamp” and insert almost any major city in the US and you’ll find thousands of educators rethinking how professional development is done. Why not fund edcamps or other conferences?
I love Google (well, mostly, google docs is sometimes more complicated than it needs to be but the idea is good), but my love for Google feels a bit scarred by your troubling statements. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, your comments show how much you do not know about educators. We innovate constantly, Twitter alone is full of educators spending hours and hours in the evenings in group chats discussing ways to innovate (#edchat, #engchat, #educoach, #ccchat, #kinderchat #1stchat, #2ndchat, etc.).
Educators. We know stuff. And we actually would really love to share it.
Maybe ask us?
Or even fund us? Or how about support the funding of our students (we’d actually like that even more)?
It takes a village.
I welcome your reply.
(For anyone not @EricSchmidt, consider tweeting him or his company @Google – or even tell @60minutes that ran the story – about your own innovations and/or leave some in the comments.)
Just a Few Tweets from Innovative Educators about Innovative Educators:
@ichrislehman It’s what we do, everyday,with what we don’t have, & what we accomplish because kids are our focus, that is truly innovative!
— Krissy Venosdale (@ktvee) September 3, 2012
— Lisa Highfill (@lhighfill) September 3, 2012
— Sarah Broas (@sbroas) September 3, 2012
— Allison Jackson (@azajacks) September 3, 2012
— Barb Keister (@BarbKeister) September 3, 2012
— SarahMulhern Gross (@thereadingzone) September 3, 2012
— Heidi Siwak (@HeidiSiwak) September 3, 2012
— Ann Leaness (@aleaness) September 3, 2012
— Thomas Petra (@RealWorldMath) September 4, 2012