At a small office in the village of Vigeland in the southern part of Norway, Elisabet Romedal is watching video. Elisabet is the editor of the learning resources in Mathematics published on NDLA, the Norwegian Digital Learning Arena. This year she is making hundreds of learning sequences on the American website Khan Academy accessible to Norwegian students. But Khan Academy offers more than videos, and the resources are continually being improved! Self-instructive indvidualized progressive learning, Elisabet says with a smile. We had better learn the concept right away!
– Love at first sight. How did the partnership come about?
– While I was working with producing the resources in Mathematics for NDLA, I had my eyes open to news in the teaching of Maths in particular, and digital learning in general, says Elisabet. – I learned about Khan Academy as early as 2009. I met their contact person in Norway, Jonas Ghouchbar, and we realized that we had a lot of common goals. Jonas was a student who had found Khan Academy useful in his own learning. As a volunteer enthusiast he took responsibility for a Norwegian version. We started cooperating and translated a couple of videos and made new soundtracks. Then we published them on NDLA. We have also had a presentation together at the national conference about technology in learning, NKUL, and we established a partnership in 2013. Since then Khan Academy has gradually enabled us to translate more of their content. At NKUL 2014 Matt Wahl from Khan Academy was one of the keynote speakers. During the school year 2014 – 2015 NDLA has given priority to taking this partnership a step further. The aim is to establish a test page and then a Norwegian live page during spring 2015. Consequently, 800 videos about Maths and 100 000 tasks including their framework have to be translated into Norwegian. This is an enormous job, but it requires less resources than producing everything from scratch.
– Why is the collaboration with Khan Academy such a gem for NDLA?
– No doubt it is because of Khan Academy’s enormous international reputation and the great number of learning resources! For NDLA this is a quick road to excellent resources. Many clever people are working with the development of Khan Academy both regarding technology and content. Famous companies and people donate money to the work. By translating the resources, we can profit from them in our schools too. Here the great advantage of open learning resources is demonstrated. Side effects as collaboration with similar educational environments in Norway are also very useful. Denmark has already come far and have a Danish test page already. The learning material is translated all over the world, Spanish and German are big languages with many users. Korea and Japan have started. So Khan Academy is really spreading all over the world!
– It must be stimulating to work with so many talented people. But what do Norwegian students get from Khan Academy which they don’t have already?
– In order to have a Norwegian test page and then a live page we must satisfy a couple of requirements. This means that videos for the primary level must be dubbed in Norwegian, and for the intermediate stage they must have Norwegian subtitles. All tasks for primary school should be in Norwegian. The translation process is taking place in many countries, and the communication between enthusiasts in different countries is really professional. There are many advantages with this collaboration. We provide students with good resources implying new ways to learn. This is adaptive learning in which the learning path for the singular student is designed during the process with a personalized plan of progress. Parents also have a lot of advantages if their child studies with Khan Academy. They can learn Mathematics themselves in order to help their children, and they have a complete insight into the child’s learning progression. Students can also fill their knowledge gaps in a smart way. In addition there are all the videos that fit into the curriculum of upper secondary education, which is NDLA’s main target group. Khan Academy does not only provide videos. They offer self-instructive, personalized progressive learning based on the most up-to-date learning technologies, which are being developed continuously. For instance, you are being tested, you are given tasks that are adapted to your level, you get help and hints to solve the task, you get new tasks, you can compete with others and finally have a prize. Here Khan Academy has adopted tricks from gaming; You get a reward and are stimulated to compete with yourself or others. Both teachers and parents can see what you hav done. Maybe you want to compete with your mum and grandma also!
– But this is really a learning revolution! Will parents now have to persuade children to stop doing maths in order to join the family for dinner?
–Yes, we a see a glimpse of future learning here. New technologies enable us to adapt learning resources to the indivdual learner’s level and learning pace. In addition, it is more stimulating and motivating to choose among a great number and types of tasks, like multiple choice tasks, interactve tasks, game-based tasks and a variety of tests. Transparency is possible, if you choose, so that parents and teachers can watch your activities and progress. I myself become strongly involved in the tasks and am obsessed by a desire to continue and continue.
– How are these learning resources received by students and teachers?
– I am overwhelmed with the exclusively positive response. And most students so far only know about the instructive videos. They become even more impressed when they see the additional material: the tests, the help they get as they proceed, the hints about the next step, the possibilities to collaborate and compete.
– How do you and your colleagues work?
– We have to translate 800 videos and numerous tasks before we can have a test page. We also translate the frame work, like titles, the menu, and instructive words like «click here» and «help». We have engaged media teachers in upper secondary schools to record Norwegian speech to the videos for the youngest students. Some students from the University of Oslo produce subtitles to some of the videos. I make the final quality check and translate the tasks. When the Norwegian page is published, we plan to attach the resources to the curriculum for secondary education in Norwegian by a system called Grep. This means that a teacher or student who is working towards a certain goal in the curriculum, can easlily find relevant resources on the Khan Activity page.
– Khan Academy and NDLA in 5 years time. Do you think the relationship will last?
– It depends on giving the work with Khan Acadamy priority. Even when we have a page in Norwegian which seems to work well, it will have to be looked after, updated and revised. We hope that this work will be included in the updating of NDLA Mathematics. A relationship cannot last unless you invest in it, Elisabet Romedal concludes with a smile.
The Norwegian version of Khan Academy is due in June 2015.
Khan Academy is a non-commercial educational webisite founded på Salman Khan in 2006. Khan Academy’s ambition is to provide education of high quality for everybody everywhere. There are in particular many resources available in Mathematics. NDLA has from 2014 an agreement with Khan Academy about making resources available in Norwegian. Elisabet Romedal is the former editor of the learning resources in Mathematics on NDLA. She is engaged by NDLA to coordinate the translation work.