Does a comprehensive education that’s free to all sound too good to be true? Not if you talk to Salman Khan. That’s his personal lifelong goal and he is well on his way to achieving it! He believes that the answer to most of life’s questions is a resounding ‘YES!’ Yes, you can learn. Yes, you can achieve. Yes, you can do more than you ever thought possible. Yes, you can climb out of the situation you are in. Yes, there are people out there who are willing (and able) to help. Yes, education is key. Yes, it can be yours for the asking. Yes, it’s FREE!
It all began when he was helping his niece and nephew via telephone with their math homework. He realized they needed to ‘see’ what he was explaining, so he made a quick YouTube video of the topic he was helping them with. This helped bridge the 100’s of miles between them. Over time he continued to do so and inadvertently, other folks were finding his videos online and discovering they were very helpful. Soon he was getting requests to post videos on other topics. He realized a need was out there and the concept of Khan Academy was born. Give students video access to academic content for viewing in the comfort of their own home, where they can pause, re-watch and digest all without having to wait for re-explanation or be intimidated about asking a question. And let’s offer it for FREE!
This concept is being embraced by pockets of the public education system called “The Flipped Classroom.” In this educational paradigm, the typical scenario is “flipped” with students learning from the video at home, (watching as many times as needed) and then coming to school to do the work and interact with the teacher. So the “lecture” at school is replaced with a video outsourced or created by the teacher and the “homework” now becomes classwork in an environment where teacher and peer interaction can be capitalized upon.
Sal started creating and posting videos in the subject area of math (he holds 3 degrees from MIT and 1 from Harvard) on his site at www.KhanAcademy.org. It then slowly evolved adding in practice and review questions complete with a reward program for the learner complete with unique badges and funky avatars to earn. The parents or teachers can log in as “coaches” and see all kinds of cool graphical data on how their child or student is learning, like content mastered, lessons reviewed or topics that provided challenge. Now there is a pretesting segment allowing students to “test out” of an area if they can demonstrate mastery of the skill. An awesome knowledge map, allows students to see what they have completed and where they are headed next. His newest addition is the learning dashboard for each subject area which allows a quick view of how many topics the learner has mastered, practiced, or not attempted yet. The overview video will help you navigate and get the most out of his site. His video topics now include not only math, but science, economics and humanities. Universities and educational sources are now partnering with his platform and offering videos in their areas of expertise. How cool is that? They currently have close to 5,000 lessons available. Online. For FREE!
His tagline is “Completely free, forever.” How? A huge grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sure did help (you HAVE to watch the 20min TED talk, it’s on the home page when you scroll down) as did winning a Google contest. Sal started out doing all the site development and videos himself in the closet of his home. Now he has a building and employees to help it grow! Of course he takes donations from his adoring constituents, who wouldn’t?
I share this resource with you for many reasons. Mostly because the lessons are outstanding! The website is amazing! The content is varied and drills down to very specific lessons. It is available on any internet enabled device. It can help your child that is struggling with pre-algebra or one who is wanting to get a refresher on percentiles or one who is jumping ahead to study black holes in space. But the most powerful reason of all is because my son LOVES it, and did I mention that it’s FREE?
What would you study if you had the time? How has Khan Academy help with your kids homework?