Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Khan Academy

The Kahn Academy is the future!

The CBS 60 Minutes television program recently had a segment that blew me away. It was about a teaching program with videos in digestible chunks, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on a computer.

Sal Khan (MIT and Harvard) is the creator of this education tool. Khan is a math, science, and history teacher to millions of students around the world. Now that the program is backed by Bill Gates, Google and others. Sal Khan wants to make learning more accessible while putting fun and intellect on a higher level.

Sal Khan writes on the web site Khan Academy "I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him."

It is a free world-class education for anyone. As soon as the 60 Minutes segment ended I looked up the web site. I fell in love with it immediately. I even scrolled down the thousands of videos and spent seven minutes of the history of algebra, with maps, markers and explanation of the earliest stuff on the subject.

Had I had such a learning opportunity in the 1940s I may have gotten interested in all kinds of math and science. I might have even made a passing grade.

The not-for-profit Academy is apparently an organization on a mission. Their goal of changing education for the better via a free world-class education for anyone anywhere is off to a good start.
The videos on world history caught my eye also. I enjoyed the short lesson and unique way it was presented. I wanted to stay at the computer all night. You might say I was impressed.

All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

Students can make use of the 3,000 –plus video library, practice exercises, and assessments from any computer with access to the web.

There is more, like helping coaches, parents, and teachers have unprecedented visibility into what their students are learning and doing on the Khan Academy.

In the 60 Minutes piece Sanjay Gupta, the interviewer, watching Khan record a 10-minute economics lesson. “It's so simple - all you hear is his voice and all you see is his colorful sketches on a digital blackboard,” say Gupta.

“When Khan finishes the lecture, he uploads it to his website - where it joins the more than 3,000 other lessons he's done. In just a couple of years he's gone from having a few hundred pupils to more than four million every month,” continues the interviewer.Khan and his now expanded team has amassed a library of math lectures that starts with basic addition and builds all the way through advanced calculus. The courses are from kindergarten to college and beyond. I may get an education yet!

Sal Khan has tackled so many subjects that if you watched just one of his lectures a day it would take over eight years to cover it all. No excuse for the world’s peoples (who have the Internet) to reap the tremendous blessings of an education.

The Khan Academy office has the intense vibe of a Silicon Valley startup. The team is working to create software they hope will transform how math is taught in American classrooms. It is not the final answer to educating folks, but it is going in the right direction.

1 comment:

Thomas A. Wiebe said...

I too am blown away by Khan Academy. I have been using it episodically for the past year to bone up on some subjects. I think it has tremendous potential to improve educational opportunities for particularly more disadvantaged students. Glad to see your shared enthusiasm on this subject.