Education Reimagined with Sal Khan at IBM Think2018
Last week, IBM clients, Business Partners and executives got together for the inaugural IBM [Think 2018] conference. There were over 30,000 attendees.
While Sal Khan was a hedge fund manager in Nor then California, he was also a math tutor to his cousin Nadia over the Internet in the evenings. This extended to 15 other family members. In November 2006, Sal started to record his teachings on a YouTube channel. His cousins liked the YouTube recordings better, as they could go at their own pace.
In 2007, Sal realized that many people who were not family-related were watching his educational videos on YouTube. Sal quit his job and set up [Khan Academy] as a non-profit organization. Unfortunately, the donations he received from students and parents were not enough to support his monthly expenses. However, he received a generous $10,000 US dollar donation from a parent who used the site with her kids.
Word got around. Bill Gates from Microsoft mentioned Khan Academy in an on-stage interview. Mr. Gates admired Sal's wife for letting him quit his job to pursue his interests.
(Later, Mr. Gates invited Sal to visit the Microsoft campus in Seattle, WA, asking him "What could Khan Academy achieve if you had more resources?" A question folks in public education, or the IT industry for that matter, rarely hear! )
By Fall 2010, the Gates Foundation, Google, [and other supporters] helped make this a fully funded organization, he was able to hire engineers and educators.
Sal gave an interesting analogy. Imagine building a house, the first step is to pour the concrete foundation, instructing the builders to "do what you can in two weeks". The inspection indicates problems, but you go ahead and build first floor with the same approach "do what you can in two weeks", then build second floor. Eventually, the house collapses.
Sal organized Khan Academy similar to [Kung Fu belt colors], rather than the manner students are grouped by age in traditional American schools, promoted lock-step, regardless of their readiness. Many students have gaps, and being moved to next grade just results in more gaps. The solution is to fill the gaps in a timely manner.
Sal gave three inspiring stories of some of his students:
But how effective is Khan Academy overall? Working with the college test board, Sal was able to do efficacy studies. With 250,000 students using Khan Academy for PSAT/SAT prep for just 20 hours produced 100 percent extra gain. A similar study in Idaho found 80 percent extra gain with 10,500 students. In Brazil, a 7,000 student study found that one hour of Khan academy per week resulted in 30 percent more learning.
The videos on Khan Academy favor being simple and authentic, rather than high production value. The software and equipment used to make the first videos only cost a few hundred dollars. The costs are just 30 US cents per hour of learning.
Today, the free online learning resources cover preschool through early college education, including K-12 math, grammar, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, finance, history, and SAT prep. Khan Academy also provides teachers with tools and data so they can help their students develop the skills, habits, and mindsets they need to succeed in school and beyond.
The concept scales well. Khan Academy has over 150 employees, with another 14,000 volunteers helping with translations. Over 59 million students have registered across 190 countries. Every year, about 300,000 people send in donations. The webiste has had over 1.4 billion views.
Sal finished his talk with a thought experiment: Go back 400 years ago to Western Europe, a time when only about 10 percent of men, and 5 percent of women, could read. If you asked someone, back then, what percentage of people could be taught to read, they would estimate only 20 to 30 percent.
Today we know that nearly 100 percent of people can be taught to read. However, if you asked people today what percentage of people could become a software engineer, start a business, or write a novel, people respond only one to five percent.
IBM Watson is also helping out in the area of education. Register today at [Teacher Advisor]!
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