Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker
andrewducker

Remembering why I hated university

I've heard good things about The Khan Academy, an organisation dedicated to providing free education, with an initial focus on mathematics, but they're now branching out into chemistry, biology, and other subjects.

I had a quick play with their entry-level exercise, and they seemed to work pretty well (well, except for refreshing large chunks of the page with each answer I gave, which was a little slow). And then I thought I'd leap ahead and watch a video from their stats course, as I've long had an interest in statistics, and would be fascinated to watch some of them through, complete the exercises, and learn something.

And the first one I watched was _awful_. You can see it here, and listen to the lecturer changing his mind halfway through sentences, talking over himself, repeating himself ad nauseam, and taking an age to get to any kind of point.

So I tried a different stats one, and got the same result. Slow, not to the point, lecturer repeating himself because it was taking an age to actually write anything on the ridiculous blackboard they're using, and he's trying to fill dead air.

So I wondered if the stats guy they got in was just a bit rubbish, and went back to basic algebra. Nope, just as bad. I managed about 90 seconds of Simple Equations before having to kill the page before my own internal organs climbed up my windpipe and throttled me to death.

Same with introduction to the atom, where the lecturer pauses to draw leaves on an apple he's using to demonstrate where the concept of atoms came from.

And having seen some very good lectures online, it seems obvious that these lecturers could really do with (a) practising a lot more, (b) doing their presentations _first_ and then talking over them and (c)editing things together.

And it reminded me of why I used to turn up to about one lecture in three through most of my computing course. Because the lecturer's style seemed to be to open the book to wherever we'd finished the previous lecture, and read to us, occasionally talking over themselves when they tried to deviate from this. So I'd turn up to a lecture, realise that I'd already read past this point while bored in a previous lecture, and then read even further ahead in order to prevent brain death from setting in.

There was something I bumped into recently, where a teacher had reversed the way that most teaching worked. Rather than you learning in class, and doing exercises in your own time at home, he had people reading/learning in their own time, and doing the exercises in class, where he could help people with them. And, as someone who always found the labs a lot more useful than being talked at, I can only think that I'd have done a lot better with a system that was that way around.



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