Salman Khan: Using video to reinvent education

It all started in late 2004. Salman Khan was a financial analyst tutoring his cousin in math via the Internet. In response to enthusiastic requests for the same type of help from other family members, Khan began to upload videos on YouTube. By the end of 2009, these videos were receiving an average of 35,000 visits a day. Khan subsequently decided to quit his job to create Khan Academy, a non-profit organization financed in part by Google and the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation. With an annual growth rate of 400%, the site features thousands of tutorial videos in mathematics, history, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and economics. Its goal is to enable secondary school and university students to study from home. Students can advance at their own rate, using the “pause” and “rewind” keys on their keyboards.
In accordance with other online learning schemes like MOOCs (massive open online courses) and flipped classrooms, where knowledge is acquired online and only practical exercises are done in classrooms, Khan aims to reinvent education (read his book, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined). He believes the traditional system of doing homework every evening on what was covered in class during the day is outdated. “I think the future will involve global classrooms, worldwide. That is what we are trying to build.” Pipedream or prophecy? What’s clear is that Khan’s system has generated considerable debate. Some people see it as a revolution, or at least an undeniable source of progress, whereas others denounce it as representing the standardization and dehumanization of teaching.

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Based on Too Big to Know by David Weinberger (Basic Books, January 2012); “70:20:10: Explorer les nouveaux territoires d’apprentissage” by Charles Jennings and Jérôme Wargnier (CrossKnowledge, 2011), an interview with Laurent Saussereau, CEO of Yuman (January 2013) and with Maryannick Van Den Abeele, head of Reciprocal Knowledge Exchange Networks (RKENs) at La Poste, France, January 2013.

Business Digest nº 233, February 2013.