In 2004, Sal Khan - who holds three degrees from M.I.T. and one from the Harvard Business School - began tutoring his cousin online using a Doodle notepad. When the tutorials became popular with other family members and friends, he put his lessons on YouTube. From there, the Khan Academy was born. Today, the website has grownto 2,100 videos on topics ranging from differential equations to the Paulson bailout.
We caught up with Khan this morning, after he spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival on a panel called "GAME CHANGERS: New Ways to Teach Our Kids." (Watch the panel here.) He has expanded his vision to a new pilot program at a school that's using Khan Academy videos in the curriculum. The results, he said, are that interactivity has increased in the classroom - both between students and their computers and students and each other. Kids move through their lessons at their own pace, help each other out when they're stuck, and have the teacher on hand to work through problems with them. The teachers can follow their students' progress with an in-depth program that tracks the kids' performance on their quizzes and lessons. (Watch our interview below.)
Khan quit his day job in 2009 to take on the Khan Academy full time. The virtual tutorial site is completely free and the Khan Academy is a non-profit. Why?
“If you need to make revenue, you need to say ‘Ok, whose got the dollars?’” Khan explained.
The answer: the government. With school districts as a consumer, Khan realized the lessons would be aimed at accomplishing the goals of everyone but the students themselves.
“It blows my mind. New textbooks come out every five years, but calculus hasn’t changed.”
So, for now at least, the Khan Academy will remain a not-for-profit provider of free online lessons.
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