+ You Tube for Help With Math Class?

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Nicole Nissim, a student at the University of Central Florida, found videos on the You Tube web site to help her with trigonometry equations, according to Rasha Madkour’s online article from the Associated Press.

“I was able to watch them at my own pace and if I didn’t get a concept, I could easily rewind it,” says Nissim.  “It was a lot clearer once I watched the video.” 

Best known for its TV clips and homemade performances, You Tube has videos that offer tutoring in math, science and other complicated subjects.

A You Tube tutorial on calculus integrals has been watched over 50,000 times in the past year.  Others on angular velocity and harmonic motion have gotten more than 10,000 views each.

The videos are appealing for several reasons, according to Kim Gregson, an Ithaca College professor of new media.  Students come to the videos when they’re ready to study and fully awake — not always the case for 8 am calculus classes. 

And they can watch the videos as many times as they need until they understand.

Viewer comments posted to You Tube by the not-for-profit Khan Academy, for example, include “Now why couldn’t my calc instructor explain it that simply?” and “I was just about to leave my physics course.  You saved me.”

One viewer went this far in a comment to the man behind the video: “You are the god of mathematics!”

What is Salman Khan’s trick?  Keeping it simple, he says.  With a laid-back approach, he focuses on a single concept and keeps the videos to a digestible 10 minutes.

Khan says he purposely did not create clips featuring himself standing at a whiteboard.  He wanted something more like sitting next to someone and working out a problem on a sheet of paper.

He uses the low-tech Microsoft Paint sketching software — with a black background and brightly colored lines and equations — as he works through his explanations.

Khan, who is a California hedge fund manager by day and math geek by night, says “If you’re watching a guy do a problem (while) thinking out loud, I think people find that more valuable and not as daunting.” 

Khan was educated at Harvard and MIT.  He developed his tutoring hobby when a younger cousin was having trouble with sixth grade math.

As word of his knack for teaching spread among relatives and family friends, he got tired of explaining the same things over and over.  So he created videos and posted them on You Tube.

He formed the Khan Academy, which is currently a one-man show.  The long-term goal is to start a school that uses technology to custommize learning for students.

These video clips have developed a following far beyond that immediate circle of relatives and friends.  Now he gets dozens of emails a week from people all around the world.  They even ask for videos on specific topics and help solving particular problems.

By now there are about 600 videos on subjects spanning math, physics and even the struggling economy.

He works on churning out the clips about three hours a night.  He says his motivation is the heartfelt feedback.

Khan’s personable style  has been praised by University of Miami education professor Walter Secada.  However Secada says that while all the videos he’s seen are accurate, he’s rather concerned about how Khan uses an example to define a term, rather than defining the term more generally. 

Secada can envision some students becoming confused when having to apply a concept to a different example.  “It may seem like a small point but it lays a foundation for later problems,” he says.  “That’s the strength and the weakness of this.  In an eight-minute video, you can only do so much.”

You Tube’s potential for instruction is one of the reasons Google Inc. bought the video site for $1.76 billion two years ago. 

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page realized that certain search requests might be better fulfilled with how-to videos than with written explanations.  But until You Tube landed in their laps, they didn’t have a good way of filling that need.

Now Google includes You Tube videos when it delivers search results.

Be warned, however, that not all tutoring videos on You Tube are created equal.

Central Florida sophomore Jacqueline Boehme found that out quickly when she was looking a t biology clips.  Video quality could be poor; images could be blurry or too small to see.

Says Boehme, who has looked up videos that explain processes like protein synthesis,  “There are definitely some that are better than others, so it’s always useful to look at a few.”  But some of the 3-D representations have helped her conceptualize what she’s learning in class.

Secada says he’d like to see math faculty incorporate some videos in their teaching, or recommend clips that have been vetted.  Again, he cautions students not to depend solely on what they find online.

“There’s a point at which kids do need to double-check with their textbook.  Before you need to quote this in your test, you need to look at this and check it it’s right.”

Find Khan’s clips at http://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy?ob4

source: online article from Associated Press writer Rasha Madkour on 12/12/08

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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