Weeks ago at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Bill Gates applauded the educational efforts of Salman Khan in front of a 2,000-man audience. Khan, the only teacher of the online Khan Academy, produces videos and tutorials that have made his website one of the most popular educational sites on the internet.
Khan’s ten to fifteen minute free tutorials, on subjects including math and science, are now viewed almost 70,000 times a day. Commenting on the tutorials, which both Gates and his 11-year old son Rory consume, the second richest man in the world says, “I’d say we moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job.”
Beginning in 2006, the Pakistani-American Muslim converted a walk-in-closet in his Silicon Valley home into a filming station, complete with hundreds of dollars worth of video equipment and bookshelves. He has received around 18 million page views since he started, mostly from the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and India.
Khan, with an MBA from Harvard, a BS in math, and a BS and masters’ in electrical engineering and computer science, focuses on getting to the bulk of the material in less than fifteen minutes, bringing a brevity that is rarely found in the classroom and has been refreshing for high school and college students alike.
What started as the former hedge fund analysts’ efforts to help his young cousin with 7th grade math using Yahoo Doodle software and a telephone expanded into demands for his tutorage among family and friends and then turned into a successful effort to simplify complicated topics for students all around the world.
Despite the success of the tutorials, many teachers stress that the videos are only supplements and cannot be replacements for full-time school attendance.
Ultimately speaking on the future of the Academy, Khan expresses his intent to produce “tens of thousands” of tutorials providing “the first free, world-class virtual school where anyone can learn anything.”
To start watching tutorials and to learn more about the Khan Academy, visit the website at: http://www.khanacademy.org