Redesigning education is on minds of most strategic designers today. How do we use modern tools today to raise a better generation for tomorrow? Khan Academy is on the right track of making education accessible, and enjoyable for anyone with access to a computer and internet.
Khan Academy was started by Salmon Khan when he wanted to tutor his cousin in “unit conversion.” Since Khan lived in Boston, and his cousin lived in New Orleans, they had to use the phone and Yahoo Doodle to communicate. After few tutoring sessions Khan’s cousin learned unit conversion, and was able to advance in her classes. Shortly thereafter, Khan was spending every day tutoring other members of his family, and finally friends and strangers using YouTube. In 2009 Gates Foundation and Google funded Khan’s tutoring, effectively creating Khan Academy which has grown to over 2100 videos in digestible 10-20 minutes format, in subjects ranging from simple math to cosmology.
Each video is recorded by Salmon Khan himself, but teachers can create their own classroom, and monitor progress of their students. Students are guided through the process of learning through a sequence of game-like interactive features, collecting badges and energy points. Additionally, if students get stuck they can always look up a tutoring video to help them along. Finally, their progress is mapped so they always know how far along they are.
In addition to providing an incredible learning experience, Khan Academy is allowing people like me to explore topics that I would never explore otherwise. The short tutorial videos are fun, engaging, and truly have reinvented how education is delivered. Khan Academy made me wonder why we still heavily rely upon lectures, textbooks and traditional learning methods when most of our environment has changed. In a world where revolutions are tweeted, does an analog textbook really deliver information effectively? I think Khan Academy is on its way of redesigning the delivery mechanisms of education, and hopefully providing a better learning environment for those willing to learn.