Salman Khan – The Khan Academy

The Khan Academy phenomenon lives on, with more than 9,000 videos on more than 65 languages.

This Ted Talk by Salman Khan way back in 2011 has some profound learnings:-

1. He found that kids prefer a video of him teaching them, rather than him teaching them in person, because…

- in video, he can be paused and repeated

- there is less pressure on the kids – there isn’t someone there to ask them “have you understood what i just tried to teach you?”

- they can watch him again at a later date, without the embarrassment of going to him to tell him that they have forgotten what he taught.

2. He talks about the Flip Classroom (which I have described in a recent blog posting).  His comment is that the teachers use technology to “humanize” the classroom. I think this is specifically profound as many people (including educators) say that eLearning is not effective as it lacks the human touch in a classroom. But in reality, a typical classroom is where the teacher gives a one-way delivery of knowledge. The students are mostly not allowed to speak during this, and probably are terrified that they will be picked upon to answer questions.  In a Flip Classroom, the students can interact with each other, as well as with the teacher, whilst doing their homework.

3.  In a traditional classroom, the teacher moves on to another, probably harder topic, irrespective of whether all the students have mastered the current topic. Talk about lining them up for failure! Using technology and the Flip Classroom concept, the students get personalized learning, rather than a “one size fits all”. The slower students can watch the videos over and over again to catch up. And the better students can move on to other topics. In the class, the teacher is helping the students, irrespective of which topic the student is at. The teacher can spend more time in class to help the students who need to catch up.

4. With Khan Academy, the teachers can keep track of which student is up to which video. They can even have questions to test the students before they move to the next video. So at one glance, the teacher can see which of the students are falling behind, and need some extra attention. And for the students who are doing exceptionally well, the teacher can assign them to help those who are falling behind. Now, how cool is that! There is also a lot of other data which the teacher can have access to, as explained by Salman Khan.

5. The teacher can then spend 95% of his/her time interacting with (rather than talking at) the students. Traditionally, the teacher spends only 5% of his/her time in real interaction with the students. This can make the teachers’ job more interesting and satisfying.


4 thoughts on “Salman Khan – The Khan Academy”

  1. I’m very impressed with The Khan Academy. It is an interesting and excellent way of teaching. It helps kids to be independent, confident learners. I also like the fact that they don’t have to be shy to ask questions, cause they can now pause and replay the video as many times as possible until they understand or found the answers they’re looking for.

  2. I have used the Khan Academy website before and it was very informative. I could learn at my own pace. I was preparing for the Graduate Records Examinations by reading books and some of the concepts were not clear. My cousin recommended the Khan Academy website. I visited the website and the mathematical concepts that I had challenges with became clearer as I watched videos. I stopped reading and relied solely on the Khan Academy website. I was able to go into the examination with confidence. The Khan Academy is helping students to achieve academic excellence. They ensure that the information is explicit so that even a slow learner in the audience can understand. The information is also free so I believe everyone should take advantage of this opportunity. E-learning is more flexible than traditional teaching. It gives students the opportunity to digest information and learn at their own pace. The problem with traditional classroom setting is that students don’t get enough time to digest information. Teachers tend to focus on completing their lesson and so they move on even when their students are not grasping relevant information. E-learning removes barriers and helps shy students like me. Some students are afraid to ask questions and even ask teachers to repeat. In an E-learning environment, you can go over materials and concepts that you don’t understand. Both teachers and students should consider incorporating the Khan Academy platform. Today’s generation is born in the technological era so the traditional teaching may not be effective for everyone. Incorporating audio visual equipment in the learning environment can make learning fun and motivate students.

    1. Thank you Felecia. You have really hit the nail on the head. It would really be a great benefit to students if all schools can incorporate this. Teachers do not need to spend time to keep repeating their lessons. The time can be spent interacting with the students – mentoring and inspiring them. Another added benefit is that the learning delivery is then very consistent.

  3. Imagine someone tells you this: “I prefer hearing and watching the Youtube version of you rather than learning from you face-to-face”. How would you feel? That was heard by a financial analyst turned educator and CEO, Salman Khan many years ago when he was asked to tutor his relatives in mathematics. Instead of sulking and taking the statement negatively, he saw it as opportunity. Therefore, he took it as a challenge to embark on a new project which he felt beneficial to many others across the globe. Born and raised in Metairie, Louisiana, Khan quit his job as a financial analyst in 2009 to pursue his passion. He is already very successful in his mission to accelerate learning for students of all ages. His videos have been viewed by millions of keen learners in many countries.

    The path to success for Khan was not a smooth one. Many have openly criticized the effectiveness of his videos since Khan does not have a background in pedagogy, he was criticised due to the fact that he does not have a degree in any field related to education. He did not let any of those criticisms bring his spirit down. Instead, he managed to get errors in his videos fixed. He also managed to build a strong network of content specialists. During one of the interviews, he acknowledged that although there are limitations, his online lectures are of high value. He stated that he did not mean his online videos to be a substitute for a complete education, but rather to assist students with their learning.

    Khan Academy’s success was proven by recognitions nationally and internationally. Bill Gates enthusiastically spoke about Khan Academy’s in his speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival. To support the creation of more valuable content, allow translations for the academy’s content and also enable the academy to hire more staff, Google’ Project donated 2 million dollars in year 2010. Recognitions received are not limited to those aforementioned, the founder himself was listed among The Times 100 most influencial people for 2012 and in 2014, Khan was honored to be one of five recipients of the Heinz Award.

    In short, it is evident that Salman Khan has the clout and confidence to succeed. Hopefully, all available content in the academy’s website will continue to be of great benefit to many of us.

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