Friday, June 17, 2011

The Promise of The Khan Academy

As you've probably noticed from my blog posts, I believe that public education is in the process of a complete reboot. The current system is undergoing a sea change caused by a lack of state and federal funding, a mistaken obsession with standardized tests as a demonstration of adequate knowledge, an unsustainable teacher retirement system, and most recently an economy that doesn't really support the road map to success that we've espoused for 100 years - get a high school diploma, get a four year liberal arts degree, get high paying job, live the American dream.

Amidst all of this educational noise, there is also a fundamental shift going on in the clients that the system serves - the students. Technology is the catalyst that allows students to endlessly entertain themselves, to access information from any source at any moment, and ultimately to bypass that boring teacher who stands up in front of the class and lectures for 70 minutes every day. Like it or not, teachers are in competition for attention in the same way that major media outlets compete for our listeners, viewers, and ad dollars. Agreed that students must have the desire to learn and not just play. But the internet opens up resources for kids that the education system must learn to incorporate.

If you haven't done so, please check out the Khan Academy. Quoting their site, "Khan Academy is a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere. 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."

The Khan Academy is the brainchild of Salman Khan, a first generation American who was an educational star in his own right receiving degrees from MIT and Harvard. What's cool about Salman is that he rejected a high-paying career in finance to start this adventure in online education. His site features over 2,100 videos and self-paced exercises on core tenets of math, science, and the humanities. He also provides cool features like knowledge maps, instant user stats, and some traditional gaming features like achievements/badges. Akin to his methods, why not check out this Ted video and get the deets from the horses mouth instead of letting me ramble:

Bravo! Now... if only our public education systems can find a way to embrace this awesomeness! I can imagine an educational future where students choose their own teachers, are offered endless opportunities and access to materials and practice, and ultimately drive their own educational path. We can get started now by supporting this site as a complimentary practice to classroom-based learning. We have an old saying at school that you'll hear out of many teachers' mouths, "I am a life long learner." As cheesy as this sounds, it's a transformative lifestyle. I encourage all of you to take one sample lesson at The Khan Academy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing this info. I learned about Ted awhile ago and am blown away by the information we have acsess to!