For our blog this week, we need to choose to either use a creation tool or learn something. I chose to learn something. Specifically, I chose to see if I could learn anything about the question I proposed in my last learning project post. I wanted to see if anyone could teach me anything related to heat and melting points of different things and how that affects objects. To see if there’s a scientific reason I can find for why my caramel hates me so and is impeding my ability to food properly.
So I went to Khan Academy first, because, while I have heard of it many a time and I know of many people who use it, I have never done so myself. Also, it seemed, from my limited knowledge, to be a place where I could find videos on specific topics more curricular related as opposed to searching on a person’s YouTube channel. Let’s see if I’m correct.
Well, so first things first, the main page is super well laid out. Every subject offered labelled and separated into topics within that strand.
Okay, but now my problem lies in what exactly I should click on cause I’m not sure what I’m looking for. Chemistry? The one thing I want to mention before I continue chronicling my struggles is that I am kind of disappointed to the hierarchy of the subject list. I’m guessing the reasoning is that, as mentioned in class, the whole thing was derived from making math explanation videos, so it does make sense, but now that Khan Academy has expanded into such a huge thing, you’d think that they would have the time and resources to not just have MATH and SCIENCE and then everything else just put into Art and Humanities.
Also US History and then just World History. Very inclusive (I know US History is a class and a thing you study for the SATs, but c’mon). It does genuinely upset me to see how White Washed this is. I will say that there was some diversity found in the World History tab because I found myself definitely having trouble focusing on the ONE THING I needed. So I will give them a tiny thumbs up of you tried (sort of)!
Anyway, so I perused the science section looking for something to do with heat and melting or cookies or something.
And I found, in the chemistry section, a topic on Thermodynamics, which is the study of heat. Now, there was also another on the states of matter, which involved a little decision making on my part (I am terrible at decision-making, really, this was a mistake from the start). But I went with thermodynamics because I feel that it’s a little more directed and I’ll probably learn more focusing on that instead of just learning about solids, liquids, and gasses.
Now, I just started the first video, so I want to share my initial thoughts, I’ll do a little catch up in the middle of my learning, and then I will put down my final thoughts.
First thought I have is that the videos are extremely accessible. They were super easy to find, the language describing the modules was simple, there were pictures and simple page designs, and that’s all before the video itself.
The video has visuals as well as talking and there is also a transcript available, which means the video has accurate subtitles, which is awesome both for note taking and recording, but also for students who are deaf, or have any difficultly with spoken language, whether it be as an EAL learner or one who is hard of hearing.
The video is also 720p, which didn’t seem to be a thing to me when I was a kid, but let me tell you, as I have gotten older, and video quality has gotten better, I sure can tell when it is not. The first video is also a little under ten minutes in length, which is totally doable. I mean, I am totally equipped to watch a ten minute video, I have ten more hours until my game is downloaded, so let’s do this thing!
So first impressions are pretty positive. The video and website are accessible, they are shorter in length, seem to be pretty great introductions. My negatives so far come from the fact that the content is not very diverse, but let’s put that on hold for now, and see what I am taught in this lesson. And I will give the condition that it is a science lesson, and while that is not really an excuse, it should be noted that math and science seem to be the subjects that most struggle with overcoming that eurocentric hump. And this is being presented in a very traditional way with the lecture and the notes, so there’s not much here in the way of decolonizing education (#DecolonizeEducation). But maybe I’m being too harsh. And maybe I’ve just fallen down the rabbit hole of decolonization, so don’t mind me.
Okay, I’m going to be real, the original plan flew right out the window.
One minute I was here:
Finishing up my first video. Then I was here:
And ooh, I had a message on Skype, very exciting (still didn’t win my spider solitaire game, though). And then I spent some time reading articles and watching videos on decolonizing mathematics, and by that point, I realized that an hour had passed. Literally. I started this blog an hour ago. So I am going to give my final thoughts, but I do admit I did not learn as much as I could have.
I did not learn about thermodynamics that much. I did like the way he talked and that the video was very informal. He had to erase things and go over points and he was light-hearted. I do like that most of the info was presented on just one page, it was all about elaboration on those points, which made the video more simplistic and to the point. I like that that elaboration took place on the screen as he wrote down thoughts. And I like the video format because then I can pause or go back in the video if I need to. I like that the comments section is not called “comments”, it is “questions” and then “tips & thanks”because it encourages students to ask for clarification and also to answer anyone else’s questions. If I was braver about the internet, maybe I’d post there with my cookie question.
But really, what I learned didn’t have that much to do with thermodynamics. What I learned all had to do with the structure and rules we put in place in our math classroom, our science classroom, and how we present these undeniable truths and facts, when, in fact, other cultures do not always have the same rules and facts, or the same ways of looking at these things. So, instead of spending my time in the world of chemistry, I turned to other sources to find videos and articles all about ways of knowing and how to incorporate that into a classroom. Which is something I am still learning and still exploring. But maybe, even if my exploration of Khan Academy wasn’t my most shining moment, it did bring me to what it is that I am interested in learning. How can we teach in different ways? And how can we teach and decolonize the way we teach? I’m going off to go learn about that now, bye!