Comparison of Digital Tools & Technologies Ellie-May Bettinson

I am going to analyse two different digital tools and compare the both in order to make a recommendation on an e-learning tool. I will be concentrating on the application for those in education system as opposed to adult learners. The first e-learning tool I am going to write about is Khan Academy.

A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. -Kahn Academy

What did I learn about on Khan Academy?

Firstly, I selected the 'Entrepreneurship' option, to quickly realise that this learning experience would largely involve myself watching interviews with successful entrepreneurs (which I personally find very informative and can retain the information presented to me pretty well..) but this is obviously not for everyone. A lot of learners, particularly those younger ones will not be very enthusiastic about having to keep still and actively choose to pay attention in order to learn. My opinion is the most effective way of learning is to interact with people and create a learning environment which demands the users attention and draws it to the information they need to retain. So rather than immediately striking Khan academy off the list, I decided to explore their options further.

I decided to take a look at early Maths (for primary school children) in order to see how Khan Academy go about providing their educational experience. It became clear that much younger children would need an adult to navigate and select a lesson for them if their needs were specific, however the lessons are mapped out in order for the children to complete at their own pace. The next thing I notice is that there is no presence of a 'teacher' on the video - there is a 'whiteboard' which the tutor electronically draws on in a range of colours, and the voice of the tutor. I think this could be seen as good or bad depending on the individual. Some children will be able to concentrate better by looking at a whiteboard and visualising the numbers whilst the teacher talks as opposed to looking at the teacher themselves and having to 'imagine' what the numbers etc would look like. However, some other students are likely to feel more at ease when they can see the person who is teaching them because they can respond to the teachers body language and facial expressions and feel as though they have that teachers attention when eye contact is made.

Time to weigh up the findings!

Advantages of KA

There are many advantages to using Khan Academy as a tool for learning.

- It seems as though Khan Academy is attempting to overhaul the concept of education by making it a choice rather than a chore

- The site is easy to use and navigate and is available on all types of devices

- You can filter by subject or grade

- There are different subjects you can choose from which will take you from the very basics through to the newest information at higher levels meaning it appeals to a wider audience

- Learning feels 'personalised' and is self paced because lessons are recommended based on progress

- There is a corresponding YouTube channel

- Users provide feedback which will improve the site

- You can watch interviews with influential people in order to understand the way they themselves learn, and adopt some of their techniques

- Users can comment on material meaning the site is interactive and students can ask their peers questions or respond to others who need help

- It appeals to learners who respond well to auditory learning

- There is a Coach Resources section aimed at parents, tutors, and teachers

Every method of learning has disadvantages, some of Khan Academy's are:

- The videos tend to be more procedural than conceptual and may contain minor inconsistencies that could confuse some learners

- It isn't made clear on the site whether or not comments are moderated and as with every social aspect of the internet there is a minor possibility of 'disagreements' etc on comment threads which may affect younger or more sensitive users although this is unlikely on a site of this nature

- Will not appeal so much to Kinaesthetic learners because e-learning by nature does not provide a hands on aspect to the material delivered

Disadvantages of KA

Every method of learning has disadvantages, some of Khan Academy's are:

- The videos tend to be more procedural than conceptual and may contain minor inconsistencies that could confuse some learners

- It isn't made clear on the site whether or not comments are moderated and as with every social aspect of the internet there is a minor possibility of 'disagreements' etc on comment threads which may affect younger or more sensitive users although this is unlikely on a site of this nature

- Will not appeal so much to Kinaesthetic learners because e-learning by nature does not provide a hands on aspect to the material delivered

Personal Point of View...

Having used Khan Academy's maths tutorials during a college course, I found this learning tool extremely helpful. I found nothing was 'skipped' or not covered sufficiently, and I could learn at my own pace which is important. I could tailor my learning experience which you cannot do so easily in a classroom environment because students learn differently.

A forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe -YouTube.

YouTube can be used as a digital learning tool. However, it is not exclusively educational and this would make it a less effective tool in some opinions. If a user finds a particular YouTuber they take a liking to, they have the ability to subscribe to their channel and see each of their new videos. This means their recommended section will be tailored to them and their particular tastes. However, there is always the possibility of distraction.

For younger children it would be important for a parent or guardian to supervise their online activity because some videos could be inappropriate without warning. The YouTube servers are not always online which could prove very problematic.

In regards to education, YouTube makes relevant search suggestions, and offers a wide variety of videos. Some could target visual learners and some could target auditory. Interaction is extremely limited and the only form available is commenting on the video which doesn't often achieve a reply from the YouTuber themselves but from other viewers.

Advantages of YouTube

- By just entering any keywords matching your desired video title or description on Youtube's search tab, you can instantly gain a list of reliable recommended videos made by Youtube that has anything to do with what you were looking for

- YouTube is completely free

Disadvantages of YouTube

- Whether it is purposefully done or not, explicit videos can be found in abundance on YouTube

- YouTube is not specifically for educational purposes and learning is not tailored.

My personal view...

i have used YouTube for tutorials and did not find it particularly engaging. I could not find a YouTuber I liked the teaching style of - however I could visit the Khan Academy channel and use their material. YouTube lends itself to visual or auditory learners, but is very difficult to gain competence when compared with KA.

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