I'm a co-founder and product guy at Portfoliyo. 

Previously 5th and 8th grade school teacher at via Teach For America and Saint Louis University Biomedical Engineering grad.

E-Mail: harsh@portfoliyo.org

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Why Don't Students Want to Watch Khan Videos?


If you've spend some time using Khan Academy in your classroom, you've likely realized that students would rather click through the hints, ask each other, or ask you about solving an exercises rather than watch a video on it. There's even a fancy study from "Blend My Learning" that experienced the same thing.

"We were surprised to find that students preferred to teach themselves or each other through the practice problems and hints rather than watching the Khan videos." (Page 4)

KA devs, do you have data on students clicking for a video vs. students clicking on hints that shows this as well by chance? Just curious.

From the Student's Perspective

Student starts the exercise. "Hmm, I think I know how to do this". Inputs answer. Sad face. "Aw man, then how the heck do you do it?". Student faced with a decision:

1) Should I watch a 5-10 min. video where Sal MIGHT go through this exact problem?

2) Should I click through the hints and see all the work.

3) Should I ask my friend sitting right next to me.  

As with every human being, the student will take the path of least resistance (time). In almost every case, students choose 2 or 3, THEN 1. So really, the hints and other students are teaching students more often than Sal. Uh oh. Let's hope every student is an excellent teacher.

From the Teacher's Perspective

A well planned math unit starts with an assessment. Then you plan what and how you teach the concepts. However, in Khan Academy, all of the assessments (exercises) were developed AFTER all of the teaching materials (videos). Naturally, this means the videos aren't always directly aligned to the exercises. That's why students don't wach the videos. And because they're out to make our lives as difficult as possible. 

What Should We Do About It?

Make example videos for all of the exercises. (I'm workin' on it). Directly based on the exercise. Much like the following video. The teacher can take care of the conceptual understanding in-class (through hands-on examples, models, PBL, etc.)

I'd love to hear your thoughts/comments.  Have you experienced the same in your classroom?


References (6)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
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    Harsh Patel - Blog - Why Don't Students Want to Watch Khan Videos?
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    Harsh Patel - Blog - Why Don't Students Want to Watch Khan Videos?
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    NFL is truly one of the largest sports in America. It has a significant following.
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    Harsh Patel - Blog - Why Don't Students Want to Watch Khan Videos?
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    usahaku terbaikku

Reader Comments (7)

How do you get from students "don't watch the videos" to "I should make more videos"?

Students are telling you what they want. Is it effective what they're doing? Maybe instead record their top 5 questions for each exercise. Capture what they're doing, not force them to what you want them to do.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Golden


Sounds pretty funny on the surface when you say it like that. But, the quantity of videos is irrelevant. We need to make videos that students will learn from quickly--making the path of least resistance be the following: 1) Watching the video, 2) Learning from a friend, 3) Using the hints.

My goal is to provide them with a framework which allows them to choose the path I want them to take, without force. Clearing these obstacles (sometimes lengthy and not directly relevant videos) will allow students to choose the path I want them to take. I agree, we shouldn't force.

January 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHarsh

I think the restructuring of the siste (don't know when they'll launch) will solve or minimize this problem. One that you, me and Khan Academy has experienced.

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjonasss

I have a blended Quantitative Methods for Business Course that uses a variety of methods. Personally I am thrilled when the students ask each other, as the communication of ideas is good for both parties. If the students ask me a question I know is in the video (as I made them myself) I ask them if they have watched the video and if they say no, I tell them I'll help them if they still need it after watching the video. I personally think my videos are more interesting than the Khan ones, and I go pretty fast to maintain interest. My philosophy is that they can always stop the video and go back if I'm going too fast, but it's pretty difficult to speed a video up. You can see one here:

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicola Petty

Thanks for your work as a teacher. I am interested in learning more about how you came up with your theory as it looks like someone is watching the videos. http://nyti.ms/vbNwid

Recorded videos aren't ideal for all students. I think the Khan Academy website works best when students go there looking for an example of a specific type of problem rather than using the site as a curriculum by itself.

January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Wicks

In doing some of the Khan exercises myself, I like the hints to find why I might have missed the answer - usually I have the method right for solving the problem, but have made a silly calculation error or made a typo. Hints are much faster and to the point. They could be easier to read...

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDi

@Di, Yes! I absolutely agree. At times, hints may be the first line of defense instead of asking a friend. Either way, it's not the videos.

April 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterHarsh Patel

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