Thursday, March 24, 2011

Khan Academy

The Khan Academy. Fast growing educational program, all based on the web and videos.

And to think I didn´t know about this! I´m late to the game once again...
Watch the TED video to get the introduction of the concept. Its brilliant. I can´t get the video to function properly so if you want full-screen visit the TED homepage HERE.

I have a few problems (as always with anything) with the notion of video taking over for regular teachers. The problem with this does not lie with the method itself, but rather the person developing the video. Notice that Mr. Khan is from America... most people there talk english, right? Most people in the world does not however. This leaves a small hole, but one that should be easily overcome. All there is to it is for one teacher from each country to translate the lectures. A lot of work, but easily done... not to mention cheap.
So my problem comes here: the teaching method is heavily dependent on the guy making the lectures, being able to communicate with a broad spectrum of audience. Khan himself is such a guy, but lets all agree that all teachers are absolutely not as easygoing and understandable as him. That puts a pressure on the others translating the lectures, a pressure so high that I recommend only the best teachers for the job... but that may make it into an elite concept. Something to be highly expensive should only the best of the best be hired to teach the lectures. And not everyone has a big heart such as Khan... so they probably would ask a lot (given that only a few teachers are fitted for the job of translating the lectures so the competition is low).
That makes the concept profitable, something that as a fundament should be avoided if it is ment to reach the porest of us.
But thats not really a critique of this system as it could be a critique of all education systems everywhere and their teachers. As you probably have guessed until now; I´m not a fan of privately owned schools... Something about making education into a profit just doesn´t sit well with me. Thats primarely why I think this is such a great, radically awesome, idea!

Then there is the debate of which education-system is best... Which I´m avoiding deliberately here.
Other than that, and the fact that people in underdeveloped countries have to have an agreeable level of technology, I see no problem with this. Its awesome.

As a student of almost everything I´m easily fascinated by different things. Physics is one of them. Sadly I have never been good at it, and stopped trying after I got a C on a test where I was meant to find out my own weight on the moon. I failed terribly and gave up on physics after that... I now focus on social science since its much more understandable and fundamentally bereft of logic and answers. Fits me perfectly... Though I´ve always had an interest in other things more technical.
Here is Khans video of fundamental physics. I understood it again after years away from it. What about you?

And here is the link to his site if you are interested.

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