Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Khan Academy

Salman (Sal) Khan - (AKA – The Khan Academy - has become an egalitarian force on the web and the Center for Academic Technology often receive inquiries about the website and its content. Most inquiries run along the lines of: “What is this Khan Academy? “ “Is it reliable?” “May we use it?”

In a nutshell, the Khan Academy includes ten to twenty-minute micro-lessons that span numerous disciplines (see below). Using a computer and a pen-tablet mouse, Sal Khan has embarked upon a large mission - to educate anyone who has internet access. The YouTube lessons are universally accessible, free, good quality, and have earned much attention.

The Khan Academy website content is available to anyone – students, teachers, professors, or life-time learners. The successes of the Khan Academy and its 2,100 (and growing) micro-lessons sparked financial investment by Bill Gates and won recognition from Google in its Google’s Project 10 to the 100 ideas to change the world. Principle investments allowed Sal Khan to quit his day job and dedicate himself to his calling.

What started out as Yahoo Doodle lessons to help a cousin understand math problems, filled a void far larger than Mr. Khan could imagine. More people began following the lessons, and Khan started to post his lessons on YouTube. The power of YouTube allowed the project to take off as millions tuned-in to learn, or brush-up on forgotten skills.

The Khan Academy democratizes education and the delivery of tutorials around specific topics. Khan said he’s looking over the next six to 12 months to build more community into the academy, allowing peers to help each other learn.[1] At present, the following topics are included on his website: Algebra, Arithmetic, Banking and Money, Biology, Brain Teasers, Calculus, Chemistry, Cosmology and Astronomy, Credit Crisis, Currency, Current Economics, Developmental Math, Differential Equations, Finance, Geometry, History, Linear Algebra, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Pre-algebra, Precalculus, Probability, Statistics, Trigonometry, Valuation and Investing, Venture Capital and Capital Markets.

The magnetism of the Khan Academy is that the content is easily digestible, accessible, and specific. I would encourage faculty to introduce students to Khan Academy content as a supplementary source. Post links on your Blackboard course site to specific Khan Lessons and encourage students to view these micro-lessons. You may discover that students have fewer questions and gain a better understanding of basic concepts taught in class. Students are able to review the Khan micro-lessons as often as necessary and at any time. The open nature of the Khan Academy lessons is attractive to students and carries no stigma of not keeping-up or catching-on. So give it a try and see what your students think. Khan Academy is an IRS-recognized 501c3 not-for-profit organization.


Fast Company


Khan Academy

[1] Khan Academy:

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