Khan Academy Founder Salman Khan on Liberating the Classroom for Creativity
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Khan Academy Founder Salman Khan on Liberating the Classroom for Creativity

>>What Khan Academy is most known for is there’s a library
for about 2,500 videos. Right now they’re all
made by me in English, although we are translating
them, and they’re everything from basic addition all
the way to vector calculus and the French Revolution. And there’s a video on the debt
ceiling, so a very comprehensive set of videos, and we keep add —
I keep adding more right now. But we’ve augmented it now that
we’ve gotten funding this past year with an exercise platform, and
it’s an exercise platform that — I’d actually written a primitive
version of it for my cousins many of years ago, actually before
I’d even made the first video, but I didn’t have the
bandwidth nor the talent to properly do that justice. And so when we got funding, I
said, “This is where I think a lot of the meat is is actually giving
people exercises and feedback and letting the videos
complement that”.>>My name is Salman Khan, and I’m
the founder of the Khan Academy, and I’m currently its
only faculty member, but that might be changing soon.>>And we generally view
ourselves in kind of the top of the first inning right now. We got our funding about nine
months ago, and we were able to hire a real engineering
team to work on this, so we still think it’s in early days. Our goal is to have this exercise. The video libraries keep going,
cover everything that we can cover, do justice to in this type of
a form factor, have exercises where someone can start at
one plus one equals two. It focuses on mastery-based learning, where you master a concept
before you progress to the next. It focuses on self-paced
differentiated learning. Any kid can learn at their own pace,
and they can also provide that data to parents or teachers,
so they can use them in maybe a more structured framework. So, if it’s used in a classroom, a teacher can finally have every
kid going at their own pace and have the teacher really focus
on what we would consider kind of higher value-add activities, which
is running simulations with students, doing actual interventions,
getting the students to teach each other the concept.>>We don’t want to force a role
out to every school in the country. What we want to do — and this
is what we’re trying to do in our pilot program this
year is we want to show that this is a viable way to run a
classroom that has positive outcomes, both subjective and
objective outcomes in multiple different use cases, so it works in an affluent public
school district like Los Altos, but, frankly, some of the most amazing
numbers we saw in Los Altos were in the remedial classes, where
the students were not affluent. But it works in charter schools. It works in private schools. It works in public schools. It works with different demographics,
and we think if we can show that it works and that
if we can give a toolkit so that we can document how it’s
worked in all of these classrooms and we can give it to any student —
any teacher or parent in the world, then, you know, let the
world decide for themselves if it’s something they want to do,
and we’ll hope to support them more and more in doing it and making
it a richer and richer offering.>>I mean, I think everyone
can testify that in college they learned most of what they’re learning the night
before the exam from their peers, and then all the way fast-forward
to now, what we’re seeing in Los Altos is what’s happening
is all the kids are working at their own pace. They are watching the videos on
their own when they have a question. Some students might get
90 percent from a video. Some students might get 60 percent
from a video, but when they start to connect with each other, they
can start to point out other things, and then they can look for
other resources on the Web and they get each other
to 100 percent. And this is something I really
want to stress is that we don’t — there’s a mindset, and I think some
of the press that’s been written about this makes it sound like
we think or someone thinks that Khan Academy is this
tool that’s going to get — you just watch a video
and, bam, 100 percent. And hopefully that happens. You know, we’re going to try to
make the videos as good as possible, but what we think it does is it
takes lecture out of the room. We think we’re really effective in
getting the lecture out of the room and allowing these videos
to be consumed in a way that different people can
take what they can from them and from other things on
the Internet, frankly, and then when they go
into the classroom, since the lecture’s off the
table now, they are now liberated to actually communicate with
each other and they’re liberated to have a conversation
about mathematics. They’re liberated to, like,
sit next to their teacher. So the power, the real beauty
isn’t actually like, you know, some magic that Khan Academy has
a neural plug-in to your brain and can deliver — the real
magic, I think, is that class has so much potential that we’re letting
happen now, because we’re taking all that other stuff that was kind of disrupting traditional
class out of the way. And so the real magic
is actually what happens when you let people
talk to each other.>>For me, like, the deepest learning
happens with a project-based story, but the projects can only be useful
if people go into the projects with the core toolkit that — so they
can understand what’s actually going into — going in an analytical way. So every student working
at their own pace, it doesn’t matter what grade
they are, what age they are. In fact, we’re starting a few
pilots with multi-age groups in the same classroom, and
some can work on things that are below grade level. Some can work on things
that are above grade level, but what it does is at least on the
core concepts it allows every student to make sure that they have at least
the core basics done and gives data to the teacher on where
there is need. And then what we’re hoping is
it informs the teacher enough, saying, “You know what? I think the students in my class
are ready for this type of a project and that type of a project”. And I think right now we are
putting it on the teacher, like, “We’ve kind of liberated a lot
of this core stuff off of you. You won’t have to give
the traditional lecture. You won’t have to do the traditional
homework, but you how have, I would say, maybe a larger
responsibility to do more of this less-traditional stuff, which
is invent an interesting project or find an interesting project”. Two summers ago I was running
a little summer camp myself and I wanted to experiment with
this, just eat my own dog food, to some degree, on what’s going on. So what I did is I had the
students that used the videos and the primitive kind of
the exercises back then to learn a little bit about
probability and multiplying decimals and fractions and all that. And then what I wanted them to really
internalize what probability is and what expected value is. I did a bunch of simulations. One of them had the — I don’t know if you’ve ever played
“Settlers of Catan”. It’s like a trading game, right? So, like, we’re all
in one civilization and we can build roads, but we trade. Like, to build a road you
need, like — I don’t know. I forgot — like, two woods and three
bricks, and you can build a road. And you might have four woods,
and so we’ll try to trade. We’re competitive, but we’re
also trading with each other, but obviously if you see students
who’ve already mastered the basics of probability, they’ve watched some
of those videos on expected value, then this would be an
ideal exercise for them, because they’re really going to
internalize what expected value is.>>A large degree of what we’re
doing is being inspected directly by teachers, so a lot
of those dashboards, a lot of the new modules you see, a lot of the videos you see are
direct feedback from teachers saying, “Hey, Sal, we need a video
like this,” or, “Hey, Sal, can you do another video”? or, “That’s not the language we use. Can you change the language
in a different one”? You know, the traditional reform
mindset towards education is let’s micromanage teachers more. Like, a good number of really great
teachers are getting handicapped by this micromanaging, teaching
to the test, whatever else, and forcing on Tuesday, September
27 you have to cover this, and you can’t question that
and you have to say these words and you have no time to run your own
project and you have no time to think of your own curriculum or
whatever you want to do. We genuinely feel like the
teachers are getting liberated here. Do what you want on whatever
day and the students are going to do what they want on this day,
and we’re freeing tons of class time for you to do what I think you
went into teaching to begin with. Like, when I ran my
little summer camp — and I won’t claim to have 30 years
of experience and all the rest, but what was fun for me was
not having to give a lecture on these common multiples, not having
to give a lecture on probability, to know that that was out
of the way and getting to do this super fun simulation where the kids are trading
pieces and all this. And I felt like I was able
to express my creativity. I was able to go home and say,
“What would be a really cool way to understand this
concept intuitively”? And when I went to
classroom, that’s what we did, and I felt like it was a
much richer experience. And so we genuinely feel and we
genuinely hope that it’s doing that for teachers, and the teachers
of Los Altos have expressed that, that they love — that
they feel liberated. They feel like they have data
that they’ve never had before. The fifth-grade teachers, they teach
all the classes, because they’re in elementary school,
and they feel handicapped in their other classes now, because
they are doing that — the lecture. They are doing the stuff that
I would say is lower value than what they’re doing in their
math classes, which is the projects, which are the one-on-one
interactions. And so they’re actually asking
us as quickly as possible, “When are the grammar videos coming? When are the grammar exercises coming
so I can do more interesting things with that part of my day in class”?>>So, one of the neat things is when I make these videos I
sometimes imagine that my kids, who are right now two and a
half and one months old — one month old will
be the future viewers of this video 15 years,
20 years in the future. So, all the videos, to some degree, I view as for them and
for other students. But the ones that I’ve kind of —
especially now having a daughter — thought about making is actually
kind of like life-advice stuff. And I don’t know if I’ll put this
in a separate place someplace, or it might not make Khan
Academy in the first couple — like, even dating advice,
because there’s a reality that right now I can
call on my cousins, who are about 15 years
younger than me, and they take me kind of seriously. They’re like, “You know, Sal
isn’t that far from the action. He kind of remembers what my life
is like,” but they completely zone out their 50-year-old parents. And I kind of feel like my daughter
and son will be likely to listen to the 34-year-old Sal and
not the 50-year-old Sal. So I can kind of do a
time-shift now, just like, “Look, if you know you’re not going to
marry the guy, end it,” you know? Don’t let this turn into one of
those momentum relationships. You don’t know what’ll
happen, you know? Or, like, these are what you should
look for and this is what it means to be a good person,
and this is what — I think that that could
be an interesting thing.

About James Carlton

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59 thoughts on “Khan Academy Founder Salman Khan on Liberating the Classroom for Creativity

  1. Thank you so much for all your lectures! I'm an older returning university student at 37 and have greatly benefited from your math and science vidz!

  2. I love how Salman is saying that his videos are not a "magic bullet" for education, but is just one great tool in making class MORE engaging!!
    I am the founder of the Flipped Class Network, a professional learning community for teachers interested in flipping their classroom. Please join us!

  3. His vision sounds really wonderful!!! Wish ALL national, state and local boards of education would see this video!

  4. He is one Freaking BIG Thinker! This approach to education and associated tools can make a lot of difference if embraced by the system. They can have a big effect on one of our biggest problems, people's lack of access to good education.

  5. On his site, Sal says he used a Wacom Bamboo for the videos. The Wacom models on their site don't look like the one here on the intro 00:12. Is it a Wacom, or something else?

  6. Talented educator. A visionary leader! Learning for internalizing. Managing micros and macros! Videos to positively impact learners all over the globe!

  7. @aznsp3c1alk Sorry for the vote down; not meant to be! It was a wrong click! You are right very nice song! is there a way to remove it?

  8. Salman embodies the future of education. Using his videos has become a great go-to for students of all levels. He really is providing knowledge to countless people, liberating for sure!
    I want to explore the formative assessment.

  9. I think Khan Academy actually does have a neural plug-in into the brain. You can learn things almost instantly with the way he explains everything.

  10. I wonder what this is going to Home-schooling? In ten years this could really cut teaching jobs in half or more.

  11. Definitely one of the greatest steps forward in education in the past decade. I am 13 and I joined his site not even a month ago when I saw it on the news. This man has ensured me an education. God bless.

  12. What song is playing in the background at the beginning? It sounds similar to a movie soundtrack that I can't think of…

  13. salman khan is a legend… its an immense service he's doing for the mankind… i mean i learnt statistics from his videos, which was quite comprehensive n great…. thanks..

  14. what a revelation. I speak as a 30 years service teacher and you are so right Sal. Pls go and change the world of education…globally!

  15. My daughter is currently in tenth grade ,on a student exchange program in the US . I was worried about the challenges she might face academically due to the differences in the education systems between my country Palestine and the US. Now, after discovering Khan Academy lessons , I do not have to stay up late and skype with her to make sure she did her homework or not, whether she went to math help or not.. the lessons are very helpful.. Thank you!

  16. I love the Khan academy so much!!! Such a great free resource! thank you Sal for making this available, especially for those who can't afford tutoring! It's been a life saver, helping me prepare for the GRE math portion

  17. Sal you are going to change the way how technology is incorporated into the classrooms and there will be many future geniuses, getting PhD's, accomplishing set goals in life, and developing the new scientific minds and pushing the boundary onto new scientific discoveries. You should at least win a nobel prize award for having the ability to make anyone at any age smart and understanding the concepts thoroughly. God bless you abundantly <3

  18. I personally want to thank Salman Khan I wish I had teacher like him in high school! I wouldn't have a 2.2 gpa more like 3.0 plus

  19. I am highly thankful to Khan Academy as my two kids got the distinction marks in 12th Science exam using the content available on the site. A great salute to Salman Khan ji for his dedicated services to the society.

  20. I really think that he's going to revolutionize learning through the internet, I've learned so much through Khan academy, it is amazing helpful for calculus. What I think is most spectacular is that he knows soooo much about a huge amount of topics, from physics to calculus to economics to art history, and all of the topics are so in depth, it's amazing how much he knows. And how well he can teach it.

  21. The confidence, the knowledge, the expresions show that this men is unique from others, his words are not any oridinary person can think of, he is one god gifted with an extend of knowledge.

  22. I agree with the person who commented that he thought Sal Khan should be nominated for the Nobel Prize! He, and others like him, have made You Tube a wonderful source for education for kids and adults.

  23. I want to be him when I grow up. Incredible. Thanks for teachings me things I wasn't taught in class. Education should be free and available to everyone.

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