Christian Heilmann

[watching] Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Lately I got into watching TED movies in the gym (free video podcast, 20 minutes, perfect length for a crosstrainer session). Today I checked out Salman Khan’s introduction to the Khan academy and its beginnings:

All in all a great talk and I am a big fan of the Khan academy as a way to give a kick up the backside of education. As Salman explains in the video, most of the time of teachers nowadays is wasted on not interacting with the students. Instead, we apply a “one size fits all” approach to teaching that leaves a lot to be desired and a lot of students in limbo of knowing things. We teach to measure, not to bring knowledge.

What annoyed me about the talk was how US centric it was. Whilst I agree that education is a big issue in the US (which is very ironic seeing how prosperous the country depicts itself) I think a project like that could have even more impact in areas where education is not free and easy to come by. Instead of fighting a system that happily stays inefficient (as it means not learning new things, ironically) this could be a blueprint for areas where you can start from zero.

Khan talks about this briefly at the end explaining that a street kid from Calcutta could watch these movies at night as it needs to work during the day to make money for its family instead of going to school. That makes no sense whatsoever to me. If the family is too poor to have food then surely they won’t have money for a computer and a fast enough connection to see these movies – let alone have the computer literacy for it.

This could work immensely well if Khan academy and others would start facilities like that. Have public libraries and buildings with computers and a connection (this could be chrome books) where people can go and learn. I could see internet cafes world-wide dedicating one sponsored computer to Khan teaching for example.

Saying the content is available to all is not enough – we need also to make the system available. There is already a good start being made by subtitling the videos in other languages. Fun ahead. I think I sign up as a volunteer there.

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