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Alissa Bahr Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric Audio Argument Script Revolutionizing Blended Classrooms Many students nowadays

have found the Internet to be their best friend when it comes to cheating or plagiarizing, making many teachers ban web access in their classrooms. People also worry that childhood dependence on the Internet causes diminished critical thinking abilities. However, if used properly, the Internets speed and breadth of information can revolutionize they way that middle school children are educated. One of the most effective organizations that has employed the internet in class settings is Khan Academy. They are single-handedly perfecting the blended classroom, allowing middle school students to gain the most out of both lectures, and one-on-one time with their teachers. This was shown in the pilot study conducted in seventh grade math classes in Los Altos schools in California. If its fullest potentials are utilized in the classroom, Khan Academy can change the way Internet usage in the classroom is viewed, reform education in the face of severe budget cuts, and increase achievement amongst middle school students. Many people are wary of online education in K-12 schooling due to the lack of research in this rapidly expanding trend. The article Online Learning: The Pros and Cons of K-12 Computer Courses in The Huffington Post addresses many peoples concerns that online courses

serve as a way for schools to cut corners on spending in a world where education funding is dwindling, only to the detriment of their students. It is thought that these online courses are being used to supplant rather than supplement students education, and that online courses offer nothing compared to a face-to-face lesson with a teacher. In some respects, people have a right to fear the motives for switching to online courses. Cheating and plagiarism can become much more commonplace when the Internet is too heavily relied on. However, the Internets vast amount of information has the capacity to provide a more personalized education when properly used in the classroom. Instant access to high quantity of information during a lecture can deepen class discussion, raising the quality of time spent in the classroom. Students gain more from each lecture if better, more relevant information can be researched on the Internet during class, allowing students to learn at a quicker rate and retain information much more efficiently. If utilized correctly, these advances can lead future generations to success by immersing them in a deeper, more encompassing community of thought. What is this community of thought? I use this term to refer to the information available to the general public; every view on every work of art, every method that can be used to solve a math problem, every bit of research done in science. When embraced in the classroom, the Internet can expose students to this all-encompassing

collection of information. By having access to others ideas, students can build off of those ideas, gaining a better comprehension for the material. They can look up examples of problems, different interpretations of literature, or simply even historical dates or definitions of terms a teacher might use that the students do not understand. The more frequently students see or practice material, the better they will retain it, and that is the methodology behind the blended classroom program that Khan Academy is trying to establish. Khan Academy is an online tutoring provider that offers thousands of tutorials to help to students in a variety of subjects. Their motto is that they are on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace. Their lessons are very concise and clear, explaining subjects one topic at a time, followed by practice problems and questions to test the students mastering of the material. The vast number of subjects available and easy-to-follow teaching methods make it a highly useful tool for todays students. When used in the blended classroom, it helps increase understanding and retention of material learned because students can only move on once they have mastered a subject. Students in seventh grade math classes in schools across Los Altos say that it is different than the normal way of teacher where everyone is doing pretty much the same level of learning, where if they [the students] are higher then its

boring for them, and if they are lower they arent exactly understanding it (The Gates Notes: Students in Los Altos). . This individualized style of different from traditional schooling where, even though a student may not completely understand the material, they are forced to move on to keep the entire class on track. Students in the Los Altos say that they used to be afraid to tell their teacher what they were struggling, but with Khan Academy she [the teacher] can see that (The Gates Notes: Students in Los Altos). And best of all: its completely free. Whether the student uses Khan Academys materials for help on a particular topic being covered in his or her class, or re-takes a class previously taken, there is currently no charge for using Khan Academy because it is non-profit and funded by donors. Khan Academy isnt just useful for students. When used as a course, it offers even more potential. It is slowly reversing the roles of school and home: students do their homework at school and the lessons at home the night before. Every night, they watch the movie lessons that correspond to what they will be doing in class the following day. Then, at school, they are given a set of online practice problems to do. The truly amazing thing is that, as the students work on the questions, the exact amount of time spent on each problem is recorded and automatically sent to their teacher. The instructor is also sent what questions students got right or wrong, or how many

attempts it took a student to correctly answer a question. This allows teachers to see where each student is struggling and allows them offer help to students on a more individual level. Teachers in Los Altos have described the benefits of this system. They see the benefit amongst those who really need the challenge and those who are struggling and need to work at their own pace (The Gates Notes: Teachers in Los Altos). Teaching to the middle only does the middle good and you leave out two thirds of the class (The Gates Notes: Teachers in Los Altos). They know who they need to work with and who they need to visit in order to give their students the most help (The Gates Notes: Teachers in Los Altos). This great advance in learning allows students to receive a much more personalized education, setting their own pace and moving on when comfortable with the material presented to them. For middle school aged children, the confidence gained when a subject comes easy to the student is critical to their success in school. The personalization of learning that accompanies tools like Khan Academy allows student to more quickly grasp the material, making them more comfortable with it and confident in their understanding of the material. Another benefit to online courses is that it allows students to take make-up lessons much more easily. Whether they were sick for just a few days, or if they previously failed a class, online courses allow

them the opportunity to complete the classes at their own pace with a better understanding. Introducing online learning tools such as Khan Academy to the classroom can further the education of todays children, reform classrooms, and open doors to a level of success that was previously unimaginable. By utilizing online education in middle schools, students can more efficiently learn the material required of them, gaining a much deeper understanding by moving at their own pace and receiving more personalized help from their teachers. This personal education and exposure to the deep community of thought available on the Internet can lead to the great success of the younger generations.

Works Cited Khanacademy. The Gates Notes: Teachers in Los Altos. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube. 2011. Web. Apr. 30, 2013.

Khanacademy. The Gates Notes: Students in Los Altos. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube. 2011. Web. Apr. 30, 2013. Online Learning: The Pros and Cons of K-12 Computer Courses in The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post. 13 Apr, 2011. Web. Apr. 28 2013