Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Making Education Accessible

Over the weekend we rediscovered a great website we had visited a while back called the Khan Academy.  It is a non profit organization dedicated to providing high quality free education to anyone anywhere.  The site has over 2100 short lectures on a variety of subjects ranging from math to biology to history.  My husband and I had watched a couple a few months ago.  They were easy to listen to and we learned a lot.  But now the site has been updated and improved so that your learning can  be easily tracked.  It also has many fun new features to reward you with points and badges like the Sun Badge and the Legendary Black Hole Badge.  Each badge is earned by completing new tasks.  To earn an Earth Badge and 5,000 points, for example, you must answer 75 questions in a row quickly and correctly.

Our whole family is now addicted to the site.  All five of us are competing against each other to see who can earn the most points and cool badges.  I already have 8 Moons!  Yeah!  In math, there are levels ranging from basic addition like 1+1 all the way to calculus.  So there is plenty to keep us all busy.  Even though our 6 year old might not yet be able to grasp pre-algebra, he can continue earning points and badges by doing more problems or working quicker.  It has made all our kids excited to learn more math.  I never felt that way as a kid.  Our 8th grader said of the math lectures she watched so far, "He teaches so much better than my teacher in school!  He makes it fun to learn math."

It all started when Salman Khan started tutoring his cousins in math with quick lectures that he posted on YouTube.  Pretty soon others were watching them, learning from them and telling him how much the videos helped.  So far over 57 million lessons have been delivered.  Some schools are even using his site for their classes.  He is also working to enable people in extreme rural areas without internet access, the ability to use the software. Mr. Khan says that he hopes someday to cover every subject in the Khan Academy. Now after interviews on CNN, ABC, PBS and others, and an infusion of funds from generous donors such as the Gates Foundation, the Khan Academy is working hard toward it's goal of becoming the world's first tuition free academic institution that is available to anyone on the planet.  Lofty goals, but as he says on the website, "I can't imagine a better use of my time."

Join me in growing your Knowledge Map by using the Khan Academy and all its resources.


1 comment:

  1. That's so cool - will have to go and check it out - thanks for sharing!