Is the Khan Academy The Future of Education? (video)

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khan-academy

Khan's YouTube channel hosts more than 1800 lectures on classic school topics. On demand video tutorials could revolutionize education.

Will the school of the future need teachers? Probably. Will it need classrooms and textbooks? Hopefully not. To see what will replace them you only need to look to the ever expanding and educational Khan Academy. Originally developed as a means of helping his cousins with math, Salman Khan’s efforts have expanded into 1800+ videos on YouTube, with nearly 22 million views between them. In these brief 10-15 minute tutorials, Khan explains basic (and not so basic) math concepts in a concise manner that students can easily digest and reference later. The academy also includes many videos on non-math topics like biology, history, and the economics of a cupcake factory. Khan Academy videos are viewed more than 70,000 times per day – that’s more students than most major universities. Check out an example of Khan’s work below, along with a review of the his academy from PBS’s News Hour. Efforts of extraordinary individuals like Khan could revolutionize the way we teach, replacing textbooks and typical lectures with free online tutorials that students can watch at their own pace.

Education may be moving out of the classroom. According to the US Department of Education, more than 1.5 million children were home-schooled in the US in 2007. Similar trends exist around the world, and there’s an even larger group of students in developing nations that lack teachers and textbooks, but may be able to access the internet (sometimes through mobile devices). In this environment, projects like the Khan Academy may be ready to thrive. They take little capital to create (Khan has made the videos on his own, and with simple graphic tools), they are widely accessible, and they can cover a wide range of topics that students need to learn. From a small investment comes a huge impact. That sort of success has attracted a lot of attention, from philanthropists like Bill Gates to media like PBS. Here’s the News Hour’s review of the Khan Academy:

In case you’re wondering about the breadth of the topics the academy covers, here’s an overview narrated by Khan himself:

And here’s an example lesson on the mathematical concept of limits:

The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit business but it has started to experiment with generating some revenue so that Khan can expand the topics he covers and the detail in which he covers them. You can donate to the academy through the YouTube channel, you can purchase videos for download (for $1), and there are ads on some videos. According to CNN, Khan has also received major donations ($100k) from individual donors who wish to support his work. He’s been able to give himself a salary, produces a few videos every day, and may be receiving a chance to expand his work with the help of Bill Gates.

Clearly, videos are no substitute for having a living human being with whom you can interact with in realtime. We are likely to always need teachers (though they need not be human) who can respond to questions and direct conversations as student’s require. Textbooks, however, are another thing altogether. In the US, schools spend hundreds of dollars on books for each child. Books that are static, heavy, and limited in point of view. Imagine a future where instead of books we give students laptops and let them access a growing library of video lessons online. Non-profit organizations like the Khan academy could create these lessons online for free, or we could pay for more advanced tutorials that have interactive features and tests. Either way, students would be able to review information at their own speed and compare lessons across multiple online academies to find the approach that suits them best.

The Khan Academy isn’t the only not-for-profit education provider in the world, Khan himself works with other groups, like CK12, to create his lessons. No, the Khan Academy is just an extreme example of one man revolutionizing education. In the future, we’ll want to expand and generalize Khan’s approach to create a larger paradigm of on-demand education. Not just for younger students, but for anyone who wants to learn. (Projects like Gapminder, which we’ve covered before, work to educate adults on important global data.) I’m certainly looking forward to browsing through the Khan Academy and brushing up on my cupcake economics.

[image credits: PBS News Hour]

[source: Khan Academy, US Dept of Education (PDF), CNN]

Discussion — 13 Responses

  • Nathronistar September 11, 2010 on 9:36 pm

    KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANN!!!!!

    p.s. sorry couldn’t help myself

  • Anonymous September 12, 2010 on 1:02 am

    If you are familiar with Fred Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction (PSI), a teaching methodology from the 1970’s this is a very large piece of a self instruction method that could revolutionize our educational system. In the videos above we saw Khan go from grade 1 through 14 in mathmatics. What’s lacking? testing and accreditation. Boredom is a HUGE problem in our schools and this is a step towards moving beyond boredom, a week of chickenpox making a semester class useless, and struggling too hard for one lesson while understanding the other 15 lessons so well that they move slowly. THANK YOU MR KHAN

  • Anonymous September 12, 2010 on 1:02 am

    If you are familiar with Fred Keller’s Personalized System of Instruction (PSI), a teaching methodology from the 1970’s this is a very large piece of a self instruction method that could revolutionize our educational system. In the videos above we saw Khan go from grade 1 through 14 in mathmatics. What’s lacking? testing and accreditation. Boredom is a HUGE problem in our schools and this is a step towards moving beyond boredom, a week of chickenpox making a semester class useless, and struggling too hard for one lesson while understanding the other 15 lessons so well that they move slowly. THANK YOU MR KHAN

  • Joey1058 September 12, 2010 on 2:59 am

    The best thing about this concept is that it equalizes education globally. Anyone with an internet connection and the desire to learn can be the next Stephen Hawking.

  • Khannea Suntzu September 12, 2010 on 10:01 am

    :)

    I’ll keep my academy decent, don’t worry.

  • Laborious September 12, 2010 on 11:14 am

    Nice, but personalized A.I. agent’s will be the way of the future. And for the accreditation, just go take the collage test for a fraction of the price afterwards just like you can do now if you want to or need to. :)

  • andrei September 12, 2010 on 2:27 pm

    All knowledge should be free

    • Mytest022 andrei November 16, 2010 on 11:48 am

      this site http://eduarrow.com will be helpful for kids education. Its free to use and promote self study among them

  • Tanstaafl September 13, 2010 on 4:52 pm

    This topic is discussed well by Clayton Christensen in his book, Disrupting Class. The premier online school / community for mathematical problem solving is The Art of Problem Solving (http://www.artofproblemsolving.com) and Stanford now offers an accredited high school online (http://epgy.stanford.edu/ohs). Brick and mortar schools are looking more antiquated all the time.

  • Ivan Malagurski September 14, 2010 on 12:43 pm

    This man has done such a wonderful thing, he is a hero…
    Free knowledge for everyone is such a revolution…
    All respect to mr Khan.
    Ivan Malagurski

  • Jim September 17, 2010 on 2:22 pm

    I’m thrilled Mr. Khan has taken the initiative to do this. I’m amazed online learning hasn’t really taken off. In college I had a professor that recorded all of his class presentations. His setup was great. It was just a presentation or white-board but he did include a small video image of his face as he gave the presentation. This made it much more real/personal but kept the focus on the presentation/whiteboard.

    I imagine an approach that utilizes Sugata Mitra’s “Child-driven education” in combination with a video/chat/whiteboard discussion in association with Mr. Khan’s short informative videos will be the future of education.

    • jayaprakash Jim September 18, 2010 on 10:49 am

      thanks for khan academy to for doing good things .if i missed the class i wil first go to khan acdemy

  • mikemhz August 3, 2011 on 12:33 pm

    I’ve been working on a peer-to-peer or “on-demand” education service for the past 6 months or more. I started this endeavour before I’d even heard of Khan Academy or anything similar.

    See: http://www.zeitgeistacademy.org/