Is Khan Academy the future of education?


Salman Khan is a former financial analyst who quit his day job so that he could form Khan Academy — a venture in which he makes instructional videos on mathematics topics and puts them on YouTube. And he has certainly done a prolific job of it — to the tune of over a thousand short videos on topics ranging from basic addition to differential equations and also physics, biology, and finance.  Amazingly, he does this all on his own time, in a remodeled closet in his house, for free:

I can attest to the quality of his linear algebra videos, some of which I’ve embedded on the Moodle site for my linear algebra course. They are simple without being dumbed down, and what he says about the 10-minute time span in the PBS story is exactly right — it’s just the right length for a single topic.

What do you think about this? What role do well-produced, short, simple, free video lectures like this have in the future of education? Will they eventually replace classrooms as we know them? If not, will they eventually force major changes in the way classroom instruction is done, and if so, what kinds of changes?

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5 Comments

Filed under Education, Educational technology, High school, Higher ed, Linear algebra, Math, Screencasts, Social software, Technology, Web 2.0

5 responses to “Is Khan Academy the future of education?

  1. I do know homeschoolers often utilize the free math video resources (there are SEVERAL websites dedicated to this, not just Khan Academy). MathTV.com comes to mind for example. But I don’t know how it would or could affect classroom teaching. I’ve even made some of my own videos – directed to parents & teachers – at http://www.youtube.com/mathmammoth and the feedback is generally good.

  2. I’ve been through about half the linear algebra videos and I agree they are pretty good. I have heard criticism about particular things being innacurate; the videos I watched at least were ok (one had a text annotation correction of what was going on in the video, another had a minor notation error).

    Having such videos does make it easier to go about “inverting the classroom” like Kate Nowak and others have experimented with: essentially the lesson happens outside the classroom and the practice happens inside. As Kate said, though, the students still seem to prefer a live dramatic demonstration. Certainly I’ve never presented a topic statically; I constantly get feedback (usually by polling the class for fingers, 1 means totally understood and 5 means totally confused) and adjust on the fly, obviously something that can’t happen on video.

    I currently don’t have a student population with the access to the Internet to an extent where this would be useful, but next year when I’m on a (having wired) college campus I will likely check for selected videos on whatever topic I’m teaching and recommend them to students who are confused but don’t have time to get to tutoring.

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  4. I think Salman is doing a very great Job at Khan Academy. I’ve watched some of his videos and they were really great.

  5. I think resources like the Khan Academy have a lot more potential in higher ed than things like lecture capture systems. I’d much rather have my students watch a few of these videos before class, then work through more problems and questions with me during class (the “inverted classroom” model mentioned above). I would imagine that many of my students would get more out of these videos than they would reading the textbook.

    I can’t see these kinds of videos replacing classroom instruction, but for giving students first exposure to topics and for providing them with reinforcement after class–yeah, they’ve got lots of potential.