Thursday, April 5, 2012

Khan Academy


This guest post comes from Sean Gray. For those not familiar with the Khan Academy, Sean gives you a little history and a basic over view of the concept.

The Khan Academy and its methodology has become one of the hottest topics in the world of education. The reason it has become such a hot topic is because the Academy has “flipped” the traditional classroom and the way that lessons are presented to students. Traditionally, the teacher presented the material in a lecture format in the classroom and the students were assigned exercises that they were responsible for completing before the next day’s class. The Khan Academy, on the other hand, consists of lectures in video format that the students could watch on their own time and then go over the exercises with the teacher the next day in class.

The idea for the Khan Academy started simply enough. Sal Khan was tutoring his nephews long distance through phone calls. One day he got the idea to record the tutoring lesson and upload it to YouTube because he would not be able to connect with his nephews over the phone. The nephews enjoyed the lesson in this format so much that they asked him to continue recording the lessons rather than the phone calls. 

What Sal realized is that his nephews were able to use the videos whenever they needed. They could go back over the lessons as many times as they needed, including when they were doing their exercises. Their scores started to improve and word started to get around about the videos. The idea for these videos continued to grow until even Bill Gates of Microsoft fame invested in the Khan Academy.

The Khan Academy now boasts over 3000 videos on topics ranging from biology to physics. The videos themselves are simple enough, with hand-drawn explanations on a whiteboard with narration from the presenter. As the Khan Academy has grown, it has gained volunteers to present who are experts on these different topics. 
The Khan Academy itself is a non-profit organization with the simple goal of helping students achieve their academic goals. While even Sal Khan recognizes that the videos cannot replace a live instructor, the videos have proven to be a helpful resource for the students to use to help reinforce the teachings from their teacher's lectures. Some teachers have issues with the Khan Academy’s videos and its methodology. The technology is free and easy to use for those same teachers. They could take advantage and record their own lessons to help their students. \

What are your thoughts on the Khan Academy? You can leave a comment here or contact me, Sean Gray at sean-p@live.com.

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