What Khan is doing right

Khan is a pioneer. He’s the first person to envision education in the age of the internet. Granted, I feel there are some flaws in that vision, but the Khan Academy is a very different from Piazza or Sakai or Moodle. The latter are all tools for the conventional university, while the former is a self-contained program. Here’s how:

It provides the content. While most other virtual schools either require the teacher to put his or her own notes online, or have content to match a statewide curriculum, Khan teaches whatever he feels like. That’s problematic when he rambles or fails to connect two points, but at least Khan isn’t taking orders from the educational industrial complex. Done right, eschewing established curricula allows one to prioritize and reorganize content in order to be most effective.

It’s free. You don’t have to pay a web startup or a traditional university to learn; all you need is an internet connection. And because it’s not competing or reforming the traditional classroom, the Khan Academy can take the philanthropic, non-profit route, which makes them more trustworthy to sponsors and students alike. Which leads me to the next point.

It’s global. Khan wants to translate everything into dozens of languages so students everywhere can learn. The internet (and YouTube in particular) make it very cheap to copy and distribute content, and support subtitles. As the global population booms, the internet is the only way to scale education to meet the need. I don’t claim that Khan has found the secret to wholesale education, but at least he’s trying. We’re going to need to educate on a massive scale in the future, and just because neither standardized testing nor the KA has done it well doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop looking.

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One response to this post.

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