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KA: Why you don’t even need to watch the videos to understand why it’s more of the same

July 22, 2012

Sorry for the long title. OK, so I’m obsessed with mining the KA comments and questions for evidence of student thinking, questioning, engagement, and interaction. Who cares about the videos. Seriously. You don’t even need to watch them.

A student on KA, after watching a video on the difference between average speed and average velocity, asks:

“Im confused with the original question and the reason behind needing the answer you came up with, isnt his average velocity 5km an hour either way?”

This seems like a wonderful question to ask: Why would we need two ways to think about speed? I don’t understand the premise for needing two approaches. Isn’t it 5 km/hr either way?

Here is some of the feedback this student gets:

#1 When you go on to study more complex things it will be important, so just cram it in your head for later

“The fact is that 5km/h and 5km/h North are very different when things gets more complex, so you just have to get the idea in your head.”

#2 Just think about it like this, and worry about how to make sense of it later. 

“The main thing to realize with this is that velocity means speed AND direction. it’s a very fancy thing for a very simple process. You’ll get the intuitiveness of it later, but for now just think about it like this: Speed = Direction does not matter.”

#3 The question asked for something specific and you should learn to give correct specific answers to questions asked.

“The reason is that 5km/hour is a scalar quantity (only has magnitude) but the question asks for the average velocity which is a vector quantity (has magnitude and direction). The correct answer is 5km/hour north because it has both the speed and the direction that Shantanu traveled in an hour.”

“The difference is without the direction it’s only speed but the question asks for the velocity”

#4  It is important to know equations so you can solve problems with different numbers

“The point was to show the equation, and that you could change the velocity or the time to whatever and you will be able to solve for average velocity with that information.”

“If you had the same exact problem, except with different times and distances, you would have to go through all of this the same way. While the numbers would come out differently, the method would be the same.”

#5  In order to answer questions correctly, you need to know the vocabulary words associated with question. Those vocabulary words are best defined in terms of other vocabulary words.

“The reason is that 5km/hour is a scalar quantity (only has magnitude) but the question asks for the average velocity which is a vector quantity (has magnitude and direction).”

#6  If I repeat the point to you again, perhaps you will understand why it’s important

He was just trying to make the difference between speed and velocity clear

One way of looking at KA is to analyze the content presented. Another way is to look at the activities that occur around and are stimulated by that content. From this perspective, it also looks like more of the same. What do you think?

** Seriously still not trying to get myself in trouble by analyzing KA stuff, just noticing and wondering **

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2012 8:43 pm

    Maybe a benefit of KA is that we have a “common text” – a shared video that we can all watch and feel comfortable critiquing and analyzing like this. In any other circumstance, we wouldn’t be comfortable posting another teacher’s lesson and their students’ confusion and being so frank (ha ha – no pun intended) in our conversations about it. I recently saw a critique of a TIMSS video that – much as the presenter tried to say “I’m not teacher bashing” – many in the audience interpreted as “teacher bashing.”

    So it’s more of the same, but it’s a very public more-of-the-same. And the context somehow makes critique feel less like teacher-bashing and more like calling attention to the difficult work of teaching. Maybe.

    • July 22, 2012 8:55 pm

      Yeah I agree that it’s a benefit to have KA as a “common text” for all us to think about issues of teaching and learning. I think I have actually learned some PCK from watching him make mistakes, do confusing things, fail to make connections, make stupid connections, etc. The fact that we can “distance” ourselves from him contributes to the ability to critique him, which in turn helps us to understand ourselves and articulate things.

      Funny. I also saw a TIMSS presentation where the speaker got lots of nearly angry responses from a roomful of teachers. That speaker was experienced at giving this talk, and also made attempts to say that they were not “teaching bashing”.

      Here is an example from my blog of me discussing another physics teachers teaching. The tone, specificity, and anonymity are very different: http://wp.me/p1yR3O-2n I wonder what you think?

  2. August 20, 2012 9:15 pm

    I think that nearly all words are defined in terms of other words. Response #5 may have needed more detail and further explanation, but in my mind it was a good start.

    I do agree that KA’s stuff leads to “more of the same.” I think it’s played an important role as a prod to further development online, but there’s definitely more we can do to improve online education beyond just making it accessible.

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