Paradigm Shift

What single resource is causing the broadest paradigm shift in classrooms?  I’d say Khan Academy.   It can be used in many ways, but it’s really only a paradigm shift if it causes teachers to “flip the model” as has been said.  Flipping the model refers to using online video lessons on Khan to teach students on their own time, at home, and using classtime to go through problems.  This way students can watch and re-watch lessons at their own pace, but do problems while there is a roving teacher ready to help.  The jury is still out on how effective this is, but my point is that for those teachers that are trying it out in this way, Khan represents a paradigm shift.

In Khan’s case, it’s a relatively easy paradigm shift for a teacher to take part in.  It’s a big deal, but it involves removing a responsibility (teaching the lesson) and replacing it with something that probably sounds easier to most teachers (roving a room answering questions).  Responsibility-wise, that’s an easy trade for many teachers to make, and hopefully that’s not the main reason so many teachers are trying out Khan Academy in this way.

In the world of writing, Mootup represents a paradigm shift of a similar magnitude.  Writing assignments have always been these one-sided affairs dominated by traditional essays and papers.  But except for those that go into journalism or other types of full-time writing, most students are likely to use writing skills in interactive formats like emailing.  We spend 100% of our time teaching students how to write papers like an academic or a journalist, when so few of our students will use those specific skills in that format.  Yet there are other formats that the majority of our students will write in, and we don’t utilize those formats for teaching.  That’s where I hope Mootup can come in, and be a large magnitude paradigm shift in teaching writing.


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