Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Khan Academy: A Paradigm Shift in Education?

    The possibility of a paradigm shift in education is catching the attention of many. Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational website that some believe may transform how students learn.   http://www.khanacademy.org/
    Sal Khan, who has 3 degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, developed the website. He originally posted lessons on You Tube for his young cousin and others soon found the lessons to be effective. The Gates Foundation and Google financed, with $15 million, the development of software to change how math is taught in schools. In essence, students (on their own time) watch a 15-minute video on an educational concept and then go to school to have the teacher work as a coach rather than operating in a traditional mode as lecturer as students go over the assigned problems. According to Khan, at school there would be less lecturing and more interaction with students. Teachers would have the software to monitor the individual progress of students as they work on problems in the classroom. Students who grasp the concepts move on to further academic challenges while those having difficulty get one-on-one help from the teacher. Teaching in this manner is touted as taking the passivity out of the classroom. Over the last year and a half, there have been 41 million visits to the website from the US; 1.7 million from India; and 1.4 million from Australia. Those working for Khan Academy are constantly altering the teaching videos to get at how students learn best. They are also measuring whether or not this new approach to teaching is producing results. Textbooks are out and technology is in. Some say that Khan Academy may be the most effective way to integrate technology into the classroom.
    It will be interesting to see what lies ahead for this new approach to educating students. Will it produce a transformative change in education?  Khan Academy's mission, to have a free world class education for all, is certainly a noble goal.

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