Salmon Khan, a 36 year old MIT and Harvard Business School graduate, has created the Khan Academy that provides over 3000 mini-lectures on line serving people throughout the world without charge. As of early February, the web site had already delivered 119 million lessons.
In an interview in the March, 2012 Harvard Business School Bulletin, Khan explains: “I totally believe in brick-and-mortar schools, and I want my children to attend one, but with a very different environment and set up. Unfortunately, traditional schooling can be a dehumanizing experience. Students are sometimes belittled and frustrated, they’re not allowed to talk, interact, or be creative….
He continued “So we’re planning to eventually open a model school in this area. Such a school requires rethinking a lot of things. Do you force kids away over the weekend or all summer? …Because students are working at their own pace, do you have to separate them by age? Also, why have teachers teaching individually in separate classrooms, why not teach together in large collaborative spaces?”
Khan speculates whether funds saved by school districts could be used to double or triple school teacher salaries to “immediately professionalizes teaching to be on a par with medicine or law because in principle it’s at least as important to society.”
The interview concludes with Khan expressing his view on life: “When I’m 80, I want to feel that I helped give billions of people around the world access to a truly first-rate education… I already have a beautiful wife, a hilarious son, an adorable daughter, two Hondas, and a decent home. What else does a man need?”
The following is excerpted from and linked to Wikipedia, since the Business School article is not available on line:
The Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization, created in 2006 by American educator Salman Khan, a graduate of MIT. With the stated mission of “providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere”, the website supplies a free online collection of more than 3,000 micro lectures via video tutorials stored on YouTube teaching mathematics, history, healthcare and medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics, cosmology, organic chemistry, American civics, art history, microeconomics and computer science.[
The founder of the organization, Salman Khan, was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. After earning three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (a BS in mathematics, a BS in electrical engineering and computer science, and an MS in electrical engineering and computer science), he pursued an MBA from Harvard Business School. In late 2004, Khan began tutoring his cousin Nadia in mathematics using Yahoo!’s Doodle notepad. When other relatives and friends sought similar help, he decided it would be more practical to distribute the tutorials on YouTube. Their popularity there and the testimonials of appreciative students prompted Khan to quit his job in finance as a hedge fund analyst at Connective Capital Management in 2009, and focus on the tutorials (then released under the moniker “Khan Academy”) full-time. Bill Gates once said that “I’d say we’ve moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job.”
The project is funded by donations. Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, now with significant backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google. Several people have made US$10,000 contributions; Ann and John Doerr gave $100,000; total revenue is about $150,000 in donations. Additionally, it also earned $2,000 a month from ads on the Web site in 2010, until Khan Academy ceased to accept advertising. In 2010, Google announced it would give the Khan Academy $2 million for creating more courses and for translating the core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages, as part of their Project 10100.
The major components of Khan Academy include:
- a video library with over 3000 videos in various topic areas and over 135 million lessons delivered. These videos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
- automated exercises with continuous assessment; there are 317 practice exercises, mainly in math, including four challenges and 311 individual modules.
- peer-to-peer tutoring based on objective data collected by the system, a process that will be projected in the future.
Not-for-profit partner organizations are making the content available outside YouTube. The Lewis Center for Educational Research, which is affiliated with NASA, is bringing the content into community colleges and charter schools around the United States. World Possible is creating offline snapshots of the content to distribute in rural, developing regions with limited or no access to the Internet.
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