Have You Seen Khan Academy Lately?

Khan Academy went through a major renovation recently. Since I believe Khan Academy is one of the top ten web-based solutions to the world’s ills, I wanted to be sure I mentioned it.

If you aren’t yet aware of the Academy, it’s a website consisting of short videos explaining a variety of subjects, mostly math. Those videos were all made by one guy, Sal Khan, hence the name. On the face of it, Khan Academy might not sound that special. In reality, the simple idea of sharing educational videos online is changing the face of global education.

I really suggest you check out the Khan Academy website, particularly the About section. It goes into a level of detail that I have no reason to repeat here. I will say that the Academy has a robust set of tools that open up the learning process, show where you’re weak and where you’re strong, and just generally do a better job of visualizing a student’s growing knowledge base than is possible in a standard classroom. It’s extremely impressive.

Khan Academy can function as a world-class tutor for students who want to build their skills in math, science, and some of the humanities. I heartily recommend it to parents with school-aged children. It’s also great for college students, or anyone who needs to brush up on their skills. Of course, using the Academy in this way isn’t what I’m talking about when I put it on the top ten world changers list. For that, Khan Academy would have to reinvent the classroom. It is.

Khan Academy has begun experimenting with its role in the classroom. In select classes, students are self-directing their math studies using the Khan system. The teachers in these classrooms are able to see exactly what their students are learning. These teachers can then step in when a student is stuck, but otherwise stay out of the way of the process. In this way, Khan Academy becomes the teacher and the classroom teacher enters a tutorng role. The one-size-fits-all lecture model is totally removed from the classroom.

I find this approach very exciting. When a curriculum is individually tailored to every single student’s present abilities, everyone wins. This isn't possible with lectures. The Khan classroom model is simply more efficient than the lecture model. What’s more, we will never live in a world where every teacher is the master of every subject he is asked to teach. The Khan model presents a solution where every student can access an expert education. At the same time, classroom teachers are freed from mass lessons and are able to concentrate on the truly individual needs of their students.
All that to say, I'm a fan.