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Education Technology Leadership Spotlight: Celebrating the Work of Salman Khan

by Kelly Walsh on May 22, 2011

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Salman Khan is an inspiring education technology leader on a mission.

If your interested in “ed tech”, you’ve probably already heard of him. I first wrote about Salman Khan work in this post in March of last year, and he has continued to experience growing success since, including a major nod from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sal Khan is a pioneer in the education technology field and he is changing people’s thinking about some aspects of education. 

The Khan Academy

Khan’s rise to the spotlight revolves around his wonderful work establishing and evolving the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy provides over 2000 video lectures on a wide array of academic topics, at pretty much all learning levels, and it’s self-paced offerings are being viewed by a million viewers a month!

In the TED Talk below, Khan does an entertaining job of explaining the genesis of his work, the many advantages of this format, and the impact it’s had on so many people. This is an inspiring video. I don’t find the time to watch many of these, but I have to say that I really enjoyed this one.

“I started getting letters from teachers … saying we’ve used your videos to flip the classroom. You’ve given the lectures, so what we do now is … assign the lectures for homework, and what used to be homework I now have the students doing in the classroom”.

 

As Khan notes, this application of technology is actually humanizing the classroom.

Students can consume the lecture materials on their own time, in a more comfortable environment, with a flexible format that allows for easy replays (a nice improvement over being embarrassed to ask to revisit a topic in class when students struggle to keep up). Then, when students do homework in class with the teacher available and peers assisting each other, there much less likely to end up “stuck” on a problem that they’re having trouble with – the help is right there. There are so many reasons why flipping the conventional model on it’s head can work so well. (This is increasingly becoming a key element in my own personal thinking about how to best leverage education technology).

The model Khan demonstrates from the Los Altos school district’s project trialing the use of Khan Academy lectures in their math curriculum is fascinating (this can be found around 12 minutes in on the video). Kids are learning the materials, in their properly sized, well organized video modules, at their own pace. Teachers can review progress in a straightforward format using an onscreen visual grid, and then focus on helping those who need help, specficially where they need it most. This is elegant in it’s simplicity and effectiveness. Teachers can spend less time delivering the lecture materials and more time precision-focused on each student’s comprehension of the material.

We are so fortunate to have people like Salman Khan putting themselves out there like this. Khan cast aside a traditional, highly lucratrive career and started changing young people’s lives with his non-profit effort to change education, inspiring so many of us along the way. 

While recognizing and celebrating this innovative work, we also wish the very best of luck to Sal Khan and the Khan Academy(click here if you’d like to consider contributing to the Khan Academy – even with the Gates’ backing, they can still use donations to keep this effort on the right track).

 Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Great Ed Tech Story: K-5 Summer Tech camp changes lives for low SES students
A Dozen Great Free Online Video Lecture Sites
The Khan Academy (offering 1100+ free tutorial videos)

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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