khan academy

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Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy an online educational video tutoring site, began his business by uploading math instruction videos to YouTube. Part of his secret sauce was making math instruction interesting.  If instruction lacks vocal intonation (drone, drone) it didn’t connect.  Been there.  If it was overly flourished, same thing. His approach, like that of other good teachers, was to be in the middle. Connect. Watch what students tuned in to and package that using good pedagogy.

As a brand planner, I sometimes go into situations where the topic is less than exciting.  Healthcare and banking come to mind. When interviewing SMEs (subject matter experts) or consumers using Salman’s approach is important. The interviewer needs to show interest; not academic interest but true category interest.  The interviewer needs to find ways to bring the subject to life. To be engaged and earn trust. Personal stories are a good way to prime the pump. Hearing them. Telling them.  Some will say interrupting people when they talk is not polite, however in this case it shows energy and interest. (Do it carefully however.)

Be a good listener, a careful watcher of body language, and most of all be human. React, respond, find emotional attachments. Joy and happy endings are also nice, though may not in all cases be appropriate.

Once again, good teaching and learning practices come into play in brand planning. Peace.

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I’d like to advance a hypothesis. Working in the educational development space as I am, I often wonder about creating learning environments (K-12 in particular) that are more conducive to student engagement and lesson retention.  The latest theory – and there are many – is that “student-centered, teacher-facilitated” is the winning approach.   In the vein of the Khan Academy (a kind of a YouTube for lessons) what if for low performing urban kids, the videos were offered in the patois of the street – complete with appropriate urban music beds?  Perhaps a naughty word once in a while for emphasis.

The culture of learning has always been so counter to some kids.  Why not wean those with difficulty learning into more conventional environments by using the familiar?  Get these students attention, win them over through exploration and context, then begin to slowly exfiltrate them towards more mainstream teaching. If teaching is to be student-centered, needn’t we meet students of all kinds half way, yo? 

Silly perhaps. Probably been tried in real life, with a smidgen of success.  But I bet a Khan Academy-like video might do it.  Brand planners understand the importance of “feeling” the audience. Is it time for eduators to do the same?

 Peace!

PS.  The views here expressed are not the views of Teq, Inc.  They are simply the thoughts and crumbs of a marketing blogger with his head above the clouds.

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