Recently, I came across a video on YouTube that really caught my attention. It’s about Salman Khan and his simple idea that now benefits more than 4 million students. Salman is a Bangledeshi American, an educator, and has a talent for breaking big concepts down into smaller, more understandable ones. He is the founder of a nonprofit organization that all started when his cousin who lived across the country needed help with algebra. He posted a YouTube video to help tutor her, and other people enjoyed it too. It only grew from there. There are now over 3,000 videos on subjects including mathematics, history, healthcare and medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, economics, chemistry, American civics, computer science and more! The videos make it feel like the teacher is sitting next to you and you’re looking at the paper together. Salman says that if there is a topic that he needs to refresh his brain on then he buys five textbooks, reads all of them, and looks up everything he can on the Internet.
This nonprofit organization is called Khan Academy and its goal is to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Bill Gates has even used these videos to teach his kids! There is currently a software being created that will change how math is taught in American classrooms. It is already being piloted in some classrooms. There are no textbooks and no teacher lecturing. The students watch the Khan video for homework the night before to learn a concept. Then, they come to class and do problem sets called modules and they can get one-on-one help. There is less lecturing and more interaction. What you think of as homework, you do at home, and what you would normally do in the classroom, you do at home (they call it “flipping the classroom”). You are able to rewind or pause the video if you miss something or aren’t understanding something. Computer lab at the school is open until 10 PM. For example, one of the students’ mothers went to school in Mexico and couldn’t really help this boy with his math homework. He claims that Khan academy is great! He says, “It’s opened doors that I couldn’t open myself.”
In addition, the teacher can help with the student’s progress. The teacher doesn’t have to assume that everyone understands everything. She can see who needs help and how long each student took on each problem with this software. The teacher then can have mini workshops with those few students that need help in a certain area of math. Twenty-three classrooms are piloting Khan Academy. They are gathering data from these classrooms and those who are watching the videos online. There have been 41 million visits in the past 18 months from people in the United States alone. Eric Schmidt, the pioneering chairman of Google, says he’s seen a lot of failed attempts at integrating technology into the classroom, but that this platform could completely change education in America. They might expand to history and science, not only in elementary schools, but in high schools, and even college. Salman Khan says that the program will continue to be absolutely free.
It’s really neat to see how the future of education is changing for the better because of technology, specifically through Khan Academy. I think that I would’ve done much better in math with this type of learning. It sounds like the software really helps the teacher see what students need help and in what areas. That way the students who are excelling can continue learning new material and the students who need help can get one-on-one help from the teacher. How cool! What are your thoughts on technology in the classroom and the future of education? Be sure to check out this link to the YouTube video that I came across: Khan Academy: The Future of Education?