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Grant To Allow Khan Academy To Expand, Build a Physical School 92

Posted by timothy
from the deserves-an-early-nobel dept.
mayberry42 writes with this news snipped from Hack Education: "Khan Academy announced this morning that it has raised $5 million from the O'Sullivan Foundation (a foundation created by Irish engineer and investor Sean O'Sullivan). The money is earmarked for several initiatives: expanding the Khan Academy faculty, creating a content management system so that others can use the program's learning analytics system, and building an actual brick-and-mortar school, beginning with a summer camp program."
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Grant To Allow Khan Academy To Expand, Build a Physical School

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  • And all... (Score:5, Funny)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @10:36AM (#37964998) Homepage
    And all the for-profit schools raise their fists in the air and scream: "KKHAAANNNN!!!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851)

      That presupposes that the Khan Academy is an acceptable replacement for a traditional school, which it isn't.

      • by Surt (22457)

        Yet. With a $5 million grant, I imagine they'll be quite a bit closer.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          It's $5m in grant money, that's really not that much, even for a small school. It might last them a couple years, but even that's doubtful, it costs a lot of money to start a school and I doubt that will hold them over for a year or two.

      • by MikeURL (890801)

        A traditional education has benefits that online for-profit schools (or Khan Academy) really have trouble matching. Among them:

        Networking with fellow students to develop relationships that will help them find a job.

        Learning how to work, in person, in a group on a project.

        Learning how to conduct real experiments with your own hands.

        Tenured faculty that can be a lifetime resource.

        Places to gather in-person socially (chances to meet friends, lovers, husbands/wives, etc).

        The list goes on but these are some of

        • Those are all valid points, the big trick is, though, that KA isn't meant to replace traditional education, it's meant to supplement it, and, where necessary, provide SOME education where there are no schools, or where the schools (Like here in Honduras), are wholly inadequate. (Or at least, that's how I see it).
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        True. Khan Academy is way more effective than traditional school.

        To be fair, Khan Academy doesn't teach kids how to do tons of busy work on subjects they are proficient in while they wait for slower kids to catch up, and it doesn't teach kids how to fake knowing a subject because they are slower than the rest of the group and the group is moving forward whether they get it or not. So there is that aspect of it that Khan Academy isn't a replacement for traditional school. Oh, and the fact that parents
      • by Hidyman (225308)
        You obviously haven't been in a traditional school lately.
    • I'm very disappointed that this wasn't the first post, but am pleased to see it here nonetheless ;)

  • by bloody_liberal (1002785) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @10:48AM (#37965046) Homepage
    Can someone figure out why they need to actually build their own place? I just don't see how it fits with their strengths...
    • Perhaps to continue to develop and test subject matter and methodologies?

    • A few posible reasons:

      1. To test the online lessons, and see how kids react to them. (which likely wouldn't need a full 'school')
      2. To develop and test modules of instruction for other teachers to combine the online learning Khan provides with classroom activities.
      3. To train teachers; possibly with the teachers as the students, but with what's being described, more likely as a hands-on test of their interaction with students.
      4. To watch effective teachers, and see what sort of lessons and recomendations they can com
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by denpun (1607487)

      I think money for buildings should be spent on creating more content.

      KA's biggest strength is that it is online, ie, easily accessible, content easily creatable, no barriers to entry accept internet. Videos should be downloadable....and this will solve that issue.

      I don't mind his teaching methods but some of his language may be too advanced for for younger kids....so money should be spent on creating more suitable content for a wider range of topics. Not just for the reason I mentioned but there is only so

      • by Belial6 (794905) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:15PM (#37965636)
        I would disagree. His language is great for younger kids. One of the reasons KA is so successful and kids like him is that he doesn't talk down to them.

        I would also hate to see KA opened up to the general public for content. Our education system is a self feeding monster that would likely get it's fingers involved and break KA. Better would be for Kahn to hand pick some individuals to help create new content.

        I do agree that one of KA's big strengths is that it is online and is largely barrier free. A brick an mortar school is more likely to drag KA down to the level of other schools than it is to raise up KA to a new level.
        • A brick an mortar school is more likely to drag KA down to the level of other schools than it is to raise up KA to a new level.

          Agreed. At first I thought, "if they want to build a building it should be a center for housing content producers." Then I realized - if they can't have their content producers working effective remotely, then they're missing what needs to be done for their core audience.

          Even if it were decided that Khan and any instructors he employs each need five support staff members, those sh

        • by Finite9 (757961)

          "One of the reasons KA is so successful and kids like him is that he doesn't talk down to them"

          KA is a great leap forward in education, and one of it's greatest strenghts is Salman Khans ability, as you rightly identify, to create a good connection with his audience; to not talk down to them, and to explain base concepts that other teachers would assume were a given. KA needs to be acutely aware that this is one of it's core strengths, and to find other teachers who also possess this admirable quality.

      • 1) Although it is kind of a pain in the ass to get working, the videos are downloadable (and also the exercise framework), are downloadable, though admittedly, at the moment, I've only managed to get it working on my windows laptop as a server, rather than the linux server I want it running on.

        2) The biggest barrier to entry is actually having a computer and the electricity to power it.

        3) As TFA says, the school they're building is at least partially designed to get a feel for how schools SHOULD integ
      • one could just do meta-Kahn academy.

        Wrap each lesson up into a primer, where that "advanced language" is broken down to basic terms. Core material can then be leveraged in multiple ways where people who do see it differently, or who can expand on what is there are free to do so.

    • by drb226 (1938360)

      Can someone figure out why they need to actually build their own place? I just don't see how it fits with their strengths...

      I think that's just it. It expands their strengths.

  • by bgoffe (1501287) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @11:18AM (#37965238)

    At least in physics there is a HUGE body of evidence that telling is basically not teaching, be it lectures or videos. That is, one must confront student misconceptions and more generally understand how people learn. We don't learn deeply by watching. Seriously, what elite athlete learned by watching and listening?

    Try out these links:

    "Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science Videos" https://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/khan-academy-and-the-effectiveness-of-science-videos/ [wordpress.com]

    "Improved Learning in a Large Enrollment Physics Class" http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/SEI_research/index.html [cwsei.ubc.ca]

    "Why Not Try a Scientific Approach to Science Education?" http://www.cwsei.ubc.ca/resources/files/Wieman-Change_Sept-Oct_2007.pdf [cwsei.ubc.ca] (the author is both a Nobel Laureate and a U.S. University Professor of the Year; he's currently Deputy Science Adviser to the President for science education)

    It is a sad commentary that methods that have rigorously been shown to work, like http://modeling.asu.edu/ [asu.edu] , could really use more funding when Khan gets such funding on just the publicity.

    • by Wovel (964431)

      The ASU page you linked lists 10s of millions of dollars of NSF grants. I think it is ago if a private individual wants to grant money to a school to do the same thing.

      Your post indicates you did not even bother to read the slash dot summary. If you had, you would realize this grant is about doing, not telling. It has nothing at all to do with lecture videos.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That's broadly true of most areas of education. For instance, language classes need to hit four domains with most lessons to be most effective. That is to say reading, writing, listening and speaking, the problem being that a site like the Khan Acadamy isn't going to be well suited to the writing and speaking components, and be very heavy on the reading and listening components. One can still learn like that, but it's a much slower process.

      To an extent that applies to other subjects as well, you'd be surpri

    • This video and scores does not include the feedback loop of the course exercises. The feedback of the coursework is where the pre-conceptions are corrected. Reviewing a vid can be a moment of discovery when you find a preconception is false.

      I am taking some lessons. I am learning. Additional videos from other sources are great reinforcement of learned concepts. I recommend the Physics for Future Presidents.
      http://physics.berkeley.edu/academics/Courses/physics10/teaching/Physics10/PffP.html [berkeley.edu]

      • by bgoffe (1501287)

        Projects like Modeling, http://modeling.asu.edu/ [asu.edu] , are designed to ferret out misconceptions. They're typically deeply entrenched and you really have to address them head-on in really thoughtful ways. When you do, deep learning may then occur. Watching videos, not designed to ferret our misconceptions, isn't nearly as likely to do this.

        This is totally anecdotal, but I've heard of reports of modeling instructors getting pressured to use Khan's videos. The former has sound pedagogy and tons of research behind

    • I don't think the strength of Khan academy (or any other video-based educational programs) is as a replacement for more traditional education, but rather as a supplement. Khan gives students additional instruction about whatever their interested when they need it. For instance, a student struggling to understand the concept of limits whilst completing a pre-Calculus assignment at 8 pm is not able to get further explanation from their primary instructor at that moment. They can, however, go to the Khan ac

    • by thephydes (727739)
      I refer my students to KA - not as a teaching tool but as a review tool. The advantage of their delivery method is that a student can rewind and have another look, something that is often not possible in the classroom. The advantage that my students have in my class is that I can see what they are doing, pinpoint where they are struggling and try to find another way of explaining it. So, I believe that KA and conventional teaching can complement each other.
  • Khaaaaaan!!!!! Khaaaaaaaaaaan!!! KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!
  • The system that I envision, at least as far as math is concerned, is something that I dub "modular math" -- though, that term should not be confused with modulus. I think the curriculum should be broken up from arithmetic to calculus in models (sets, pods, mods, levels, whatever).

    A student meats the material at their level, and progresses through each model. This allows a student to quickly move through material that is easier for them and to have the time required for material that is more difficult. I im

    • by r00t (33219)

      Already there: sign of for Khan Academy, and you get a chart of topics ordered (as a directed graph) by prerequisite. Each topic provides a quiz to let you know if you are ready to move on, plus links to several videos in case you need help, and a wonderful hint system that shows you step-by-step how to do the problems.

    • I run a center in Honduras, which, among other things, uses the Khan academy system to teach/tutor math to children aged 8-17, and that's basically exactly how I run it.

      I actually wind up doing very little instruction. I spend most of my time motivating the children, making them actually watch the videos instead of talking to their friends, etc. The other major thing I do is just break down the problems for the children when they get daunted...when they see 739421-5478, they tend to lock up, so I will br
  • Is not that kids are stupid, it is in the presentation.

    Math as it is presented in most all schools is one of the driest subjects on the planet.

    Yes there are kids who just get it but they are not the majority in point of fact they are a tiny minority.

    I remember sitting through basic algebra and it was mind numbing ( this was in the early 70's ) and nothing was related to the real world, just the rules of algebra for weeks on end.

    Even today with a 10 year old I am having to go back and re-learn math skills that have long since faded to someplace in the back of my brain so I can help my own kid with his homework. The Kahn Academy has been the best refresher course I have ever found.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Another difference is that back then you were 15. Now you're in the your fifties, your hormones are no longer firing like crazy (I'm assuming you don't work for ESPN) and you've picked up a few things about how to learn from presentations and lectures.

      Back when I was 15, I couldn't believe how dull the writings of Emerson were. Not any more.

  • by Barryke (772876) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @12:21PM (#37965676) Homepage

    I've always preffered bricks and mortar (and concrete) over wooden buildings.

  • I watched some videos and took some practice tests and my mind immediately started thinking: "He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I'll chase him round the Moons of Nibia, and round the Antares Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up! Prepare to alter course!"
  • The videos need to be professionally produced. The ad hoc nature is very distracting and time consuming--missing coverage etc. The range and amount of videos is a good specification however. The reversal of homework/instruction times is much needed.

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