Thursday, July 12, 2012

Trends: The Math of Khan

3,000 lessons online. Six million visitors monthly. Viewership of a half a billion. A two-year-old, not-for-profit service with a staff of 32. What is it? It's the “Math of Khan” and more. It's Khan Academy online on a mission to offer “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.”

According to USA Today reporter, Marco R. della Cava, Sal Khan's educational videos span the gamut from algebra to French history and are “sparking a revolution” in education, prompting numerous teachers to use his class. Cava offers an example in Suney Park, a sixth-grade math teacher who is among the converted, quoting her as saying, “I had my doubts, but now I feel like the conductor of an orchestra, and if I have to tell the violins to go on with their stuff while I help the brass catch up, I can do that....I couldn’t go back to the regular way of teaching.”

Even Microsoft founder, Bill Gates touts the videos: “At 3,000 lessons online, Sal’s personal ability as a teacher is remarkable,” and “Bringing this kind of creativity and new assessment tools for teachers could make a profoundly positive difference in education.”

Quitting his position two years ago as a hedge fund manager, Sal devoted himself to Khan Academy. Cava reports that Sal recruited Google's first hired employee and programming ace, Craig Silverstein, to successfully launch the academy. “Search was a bit like where we’re at with Khan Academy,” says Craig. “There was a lot out there, and it was just a matter of helping people find what they needed fast.” His goal is to “make the site’s user experience more intuitive” and interactive.

What does Sal have to say of the project? “I teach the way that I wish I was taught. The lectures are coming from me, an actual human being who is fascinated by the world around him.”

With the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere, all of's resources are available to anyone — student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or (as stated on the website) “a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology.” The best part? Khan Academy's materials and resources are available completely free of charge.

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