With the changing role of the teacher, the role of student also evolves.
Becoming an active learner
Kids are naturally active and curious, and a KA classroom harnesses that enthusiasm for learning. In a Khan Academy classroom, students are asked to be proactive, to diagnose difficulties and actively see to their resolution. Students should be encouraged, at every stage of the learning process, to adopt an active stance toward their education. They shouldn’t just take things in; they should figure things out. This is an extremely valuable habit to inculcate, since in the modern world of work no one tells you what formula to plug in; success lies in the ability to solve problems in novel and creative ways.
Becoming a self-directed learner
Active learning, owned learning, also begins with giving each student the freedom to determine where and when the learning will occur. This is the beauty of the Internet and the personal computer. If someone wants to study the quadratic equation on his back porch at 3 a.m., he can. If someone thinks best in a coffee shop or on the sideline of a soccer field, no problem. Haven’t we all come across kids who seem bright and alert except when they’re in class? Isn’t it clear that there are morning people and night people? The radical portability of Internet-based education allows students to learn in accordance with their own personal rhythms, and therefore most efficiently.
Setting an individual pace
With self-paced learning, the tempo is right for every student because it is set by every student. If a given concept is easily grasped, one can sprint ahead, outrunning boredom. If a subject is proving difficult, it’s possible to hit the pause button, or to go back and do more problems as necessary, without embarrassment and without asking the whole class to slow down.
Teachers can support this self-pacing by checking on the data reports after KA usage and by meeting with students regularly to determine what goals would be right for them. Initially helping students to decide those goals to ensure they are challenging themselves is important, and over time, teaching students how to set and drive their own goals can evolve.
Everyone is a student and a teacher
One of the core ways to provide individualized pacing is to engage students in peer tutoring. Peer tutoring helps students who are acting as tutors confirm and deepen their understanding of a particular topic and enables struggling students to get help even if the teacher is unavailable.
It is powerful to teach students how to help their peers understand concepts, rather than just giving them the answer. We've seen teachers facilitate peer tutoring well by creating 2 columns on the board ("I need help" and "I can help"); students write their names and relevant topics in the appropriate columns and help each other as needed.