A few weeks ago I heard about a young man named Salman Khan on the “Making a Difference” segment of NBC’s Nightly News. A former hedge fund manager, Khan began by tutoring his cousins in math. He found that he was very good at it, and started making 10 to 15-minute tutorial videos in math and science and posting them FOR FREE online at Khan Academy. With a catalog of over 2100 videos on subjects from statistics, to history, to organic chemistry, Khan Academy has become the world’s most popular educational website.
Founder Salman Khan has made all the videos himself, and if you’ve never watched one, go to his site now. Pick a subject. Watch and learn. But pay particular attention to how the video is made, how the teaching happens, how the story is told. These are not videos of a teacher standing in front of a blackboard (whiteboard, whatever), lecturing at students and making a few gestures for emphasis and scribbles as examples. Khan’s videos are screen-captures, focusing solely on the notes he makes as he talks through a topic. And as a result, the videos somehow feel more intimate and more compelling. Khan says, “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.”
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. Bill Gates was so impressed with the site, he began to underwrite Khan Academy, and enabled Khan to hire others to assist in teaching the world.
We’re a small team trying our best to improve the way the world learns. Too many people around the globe don’t have access to good education materials, or they are forced to learn through a system that doesn’t properly cater to their individual needs. We think the technology exists today to fundamentally change this, and we’re trying to build the tools and resources every student deserves.
“Khan’s vision really seems to be about lowering the barriers of access to education, about opening content, and about teaching the world. Khan spoke of a future in which it doesn’t matter which school you graduated from — whether in Palo Alto or Calcutta — as long as you can point to analytics about your performance online, and make the argument that you are actually an engineering students with one-in-a-thousand sorts of skills. In doing this, Khan Academy seeks to foster a “global meritocracy.” ” ~ Audrey Watters