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Can Anyone Catch Khan Academy? 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan dept.
waderoush writes "Even as name-brand universities like MIT and Harvard rush to put more courses on the Web, they're vying with an explosion of new online learning resources like Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, Dabble, Skillshare, and, of course, Khan Academy. With 3,200 videos on YouTube and 4 million unique visitors a month, Sal Khan's increasingly entertaining creation is the competitor that traditional universities need to beat if they want to have a role in inspiring the next generation of leaders and thinkers. Lately Khan's organization has been snapping up some of YouTube's most creative educational-video producers, including 'Doodling in Math Class' creator Vi Hart and Smarthistory founders Beth Harris and Steven Zucker. Universities are investing millions in software for 'massive online open courses' or MOOCs, but unless they can figure out how to make their material fun as well as instructive, Khan may have an insurmountable lead." The Chronicle of Higher Education has a related article about the above-mentioned Coursera, and how they plan to make money off of free courses. A contract the company signed with the University of Michigan suggests they aren't quite sure yet.
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Can Anyone Catch Khan Academy?

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  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by eternaldoctorwho (2563923) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:07PM (#40716523)

    Universities are investing millions in software for 'massive online open courses' or MOOCs, but unless they can figure out how to make their material fun as well as instructive, Khan may have an insurmountable lead.

    Universities: KHAAAAAAAAAN!!!!

  • Degree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AshFan (879808) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:07PM (#40716527)
    How much weight does a Youtube degree carry in todays market?
    • Re:Degree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aqualung812 (959532) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:17PM (#40716639)

      I'm sick of that presumption. The point of education SHOULD be to become educated. Then, you use that education to do X work better than others without that education.

      Instead, we treat it like a membership card into business. I fail to understand why so many MBAs hate unions when they refuse to hire someone without an MBA, thus creating their own union.

      • Re:Degree (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anubis IV (1279820) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:44PM (#40717001)

        Accreditation and degrees carry weight because of what they mean. What does it mean if you say that you watched a few hundred YouTube videos and have the video history to back it up? Yes, you may have learned a lot from them, but how would anyone be able to tell that? Should they trust your word over the piece of paper another applicant has that says a recognized and trusted organization certifies that he learned that material?

        Yes, it's a membership card, but it's a necessary one. In an ideal world, employers would be able to recognize skill, regardless of whether there's a piece of paper in the applicant's hand. We're not in an ideal world, however. Even if there were a perfect and not-too-burdensome way for employers to test the skills of applicants, most competent employers are willing to accept an otherwise-excellent applicant who is a bit rusty on some topics, since they understand that the applicant's prior experience and skills will allow them to pick it up again quickly. You can't test for that easily, and on the surface it doesn't look much different from not knowing the material at all. A degree is a decent indication that the person's claim to have learned the material is true. A YouTube video history is not.

        That said, if there were someone with prior work experience (i.e. the other form of membership card) who hadn't gone through a university, I don't see why that would be problematic at all. But hiring someone on the basis of their claim that they learned the material from a series of videos? I don't doubt that people have done it, but it seems to me like a rather large risk, or else an expensive process to go through to test the veracity of their claims. Especially so in programming and the like, where a student who goes uncorrected in their bad habits is likely to have developed poor practices that will be difficult to correct.

        • Re:Degree (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Aqualung812 (959532) on Friday July 20, 2012 @04:01PM (#40717191)

          I've been in the position of hiring, and degrees and accreditation are meaningless to me. Show me what you have done, for-profit or not.

          If you spent the last 4 years of your life sitting in a classroom, getting drunk on Thursday-Saturday night, but didn't take the time to actually build something with the education you gained, chances are you're going to waste your workday by forming meetings, chatting with coworkers, and watching them do all of the work.

          On the other end, with 20 years of IT work, I've had other companies refuse to even accept my resume when I tell them I don't have a 4-year degree. It is helpful, though, because I'd likely quit if surrounded by people like that.

          I dropped out not because of bad grades, but because I was falling behind in the work I wanted to do (networking) during the school year, and then catching up while working a summer job related to my field. It only took two summers of that until I realized that it was pretty fucking stupid to PAY to fall behind for 8 months of the year and only GET PAID 3 months while actually learning.

          I don't hold it against you if the best way for you to learn was through extra school. However, if all you have to show for your education is a piece of paper, get lost.

          On a related note, this is why I really think a formal guild should exist for IT workers. NOT collective bargaining, but a system where an apprentice learns under a master in that field. The master vouches for the abilities of the apprentice, and after a few times of different masters vouching for them, they become a journeyman.

          As someone hiring, it wouldn't take long to know that Master X's word was solid, and Master Y often approved jack-offs, so the system can be self-correcting.

          • I have seen lot's of IT jobs (desktop / admin / network) that want a cs degree then CS is more on the high level theory side of things and is more for doing programming work.

          • Re:Degree (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anubis IV (1279820) on Friday July 20, 2012 @04:31PM (#40717631)

            Kudos to you for taking the time to properly interview candidates.

            I don't disagree with anything you said. I merely believe that most employers would be unwilling to spend so much time interviewing candidates who likely have a lower chance of being prepared for the challenges posed by the job. For every excellent applicant that taught themselves via an alternative method, you'll have dozens of slackers who claim to have done so but have not. And while I agree entirely regarding your assessment of college, at least it establishes something. You'll still have a disproportionate number of slackers, but the number should be lower, given that college at least imposes some requirements, whereas self-study does not.

            As I said in my original comment, I do believe that if someone has prior work experience then it shouldn't matter where they got their skills. At that point, as you said, you can judge them on the basis of their prior work, but if they lack prior work experience, then I see no problems with an employer using the degree as a filter on their candidate pool. It's not perfect, but it does help to remove the part of the pool that is less likely to have the necessary skills.

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            I've been in the position of hiring, and degrees and accreditation are meaningless to me. Show me what you have done, for-profit or not.

            If you spent the last 4 years of your life sitting in a classroom, getting drunk on Thursday-Saturday night, but didn't take the time to actually build something with the education you gained, chances are you're going to waste your workday by forming meetings, chatting with coworkers, and watching them do all of the work.

            I hope you've never been in the position of hiring a fresh graduate then. If you put the required effort into a typical Uni degree it should take 40-50 hours of work every week. If a graduate comes to me with a whole host of various experience etc I'd be strongly looking at their grades too as chances are they're at the point of flunking.

            Many people here seem to be of the belief that it's a one or the other thing. It's not. Formal training teaches a lot of fundamental knowledge. On the job experience teache

        • by tattood (855883)

          Should they trust your word over the piece of paper another applicant has that says a recognized and trusted organization certifies that he learned that material?

          No. That is what a job interview is for. You need to know what the job requirements are, and how to test if the applicant has the knowledge to do that job. If they do, then they should get hired whether they have a college degree, watched a lot of YouTube, or they learned it all from experience. In the tech field, a degree usually doesn't mean much. I have worked with people that had their degree in economics, history, and even aviation. I have worked with more people that have no college degree, or a

          • I completely agree, but how many of those people were fresh hires who had no prior experience in the field when you worked with them? That's what I was talking about. As I said, if you have someone with prior experience, I don't think anyone should care whether their skills were picked up from YouTube or in a classroom. But for fresh hires with no prior experience, I don't see how it would be in a company's best interests to allow anyone to apply, regardless of formal education.

            • well the old formal education system is not good for IT and it's time for them to look at new ideas and non formal class settings.

              • IT requires a technical degree generally, not a four-year education. I don't see how it applies in this context.

                • But lot's of IT jobs want a four-year education and passover people with real skills or people who took classes that don't fall into a 4 year four-year education system.

                  The four-year education comes with a LOT of filler that is not needed.

                  • There's no accounting for bad hiring practices. We can imagine a hundred scenarios where employers do stupid things. I'm merely talking about employer's acting reasonably. A four-year degree is generally overkill for IT. Employers who fail to realize that are the ones at fault, not the candidates or the program they went through.

                    • It's not just IT I have seen broadcast and media jobs wanting them as well and you have Digital Media Academys that tech the needed skills and have lot's more hands on work then the older colleges.

                      Yes I have seen a a master control (TV) job wanting a four-year degree in communications. Now what does communications in college is about studies integrates aspects of both social sciences and the humanities.

                      Social sciences and the humanities don't help you run the tech side of master control but the classes at

                    • It sounds like this is an entirely unrelated issue pertaining to unrealistic ideas of what skills are required of candidates. Even in jobs that legitimately ask candidates to have a four-year degree in Computer Science, you still run into unrealistic requirements, such as having 10 years experience in a language that has only been around for 7, or asking that the candidate be an expert in dozens of languages, only a few of which they will ever actually use.

                      That's a separate issue, and while I do agree it's

          • and then you need to stop passing over people without a degree and give them a interview.

            Any ways saying windows 2008 class , windows 7 class, ECT is a lot better then IT degree at X school.

        • Trade schools / Tech schools should be there as well and they are more then just a some vidoes on line but they don't really fall into a degrees plan that well and there lot's of NON degree IT classes out there as well.

        • Massively online open courses aren't just YouTube videos. They are far more interactive. As people like myself who took part in the Standford courses can testify; it's no joke to understand and complete the tests and exercises that accompany the video content. Sure, it may be easier to cheat online than in a real classroom, but implying that all you have to show after these courses for your comprehension is a 'video history' is naive and/or ignorant.
          • For someone accusing me of ignorance, you seem to have failed quite a bit at reading comprehension.

            This entire thread is specifically about YouTube videos, since that's the topic the OP brought up. Nowhere did I suggest that they were the only form of online learning. I merely constrained my commentary to them, since that was the context provided by earlier posts in this thread. You're the one that's taken my narrowly-aimed words and generalized them into an opinion that I do not hold.

            I have no issues with

        • by nospam007 (722110) *

          "But hiring someone on the basis of their claim that they learned the material from a series of videos?"

          It beats the mumbling old geezer down on the floor, at _least_ I can raise the volume.

          These get millions and millions of viewers, they're either very good or they contain a very cute cat.

          • I don't doubt that they may be better for learning. But there is a question of goals.

            If your goal is to learn, you should use whatever method works best for you, regardless of anything else. Knowledge and understanding is its own reward. Enjoy it.

            If your goal is to be employed in a field, you need to have demonstrably learned something, and the methods of learning that are demonstrable do not always align with the best methods for learning.

            That videos like these work for many people is great. I cannot overs

        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          Hey, so you'll be all for someone with a degree certificate like this one [okdegree.com]

          And before you say "what a fake", I'd rather employ someone with that than a 3 year social media degree [telegraph.co.uk] from some real universities!

          Your comment about programming is totally wrong though, I learned C coding way back, so I guess that means all the modern 'best' practices I should now be using is obsolete and my coding habits are full of poor practices? I doubt it - and before you think my OO skills are fully updated, I'm just having to

          • I'm an advocate for applying common sense. Clearly degrees from some places are better or worse than others. The piece of paper is not the be-all-end-all. It's a piece of paper. It does mean something, but you, as an employer, need to understand what it means. It doesn't mean, "Best candidate ever", just to be clear.

            And, to be honest, I can't comprehend what you're saying in your coding rant, other than that you think I'm incorrect. All I meant to say was that someone, left to learn programming on their own

            • by gbjbaanb (229885)

              I must have cut the coding rant down badly... I was saying that today's best practice will be tomorrow's poor (or obsolete) practice, obviously stuff I learned 20 years ago at university will be considered poor practice today, but because you consider degree education as worth something in itself, my poor practices must therefore be good things.

              The point is that coding practices can be learned quite well from youtube or other online places, so there's no need to think a self-taught programmer is any less ca

              • I follow now. Thanks for the clarification, and I mostly agree with your points.

                To clarify a bit, I was intending to talk specifically about fresh hires, not people that had been in the workforce. If someone has been in the workforce, then what should matter is their work, not their degree. I don't value a degree for no good reason. I'm merely suggesting that in the absence of a better method for differentiating between fresh hires who have never worked before, a degree can have value in helping to differen

        • by sootman (158191)

          > Accreditation and degrees carry weight because of what they mean. What
          > does it mean if you say that you watched a few hundred YouTube videos
          > and have the video history to back it up? Yes, you may have learned a lot
          > from them, but how would anyone be able to tell that? Should they trust
          > your word over the piece of paper another applicant has that says a
          > recognized and trusted organization certifies that he learned that material?

          LOL. I can show you a million examples of both a) people

      • In general, human beings are horrible about judgment and filtering - ask McCain about Mrs. Palin. We look for any tips to be able to filter for our choices. Why do you think brands matter so much? "Ahh, but I don't care about brands." Yes, you may not, but most people do.

        We live in a world much more complex than our monkey brains can carry us. "There's a tiger, what should I do? RUN" is a much easier choice than "there are 100 resumes, which ones should I pick".

        Lets think of MBA (or any accreditation) as a

      • Why does art history or hobby craft stuff at the universities level? Why do some schools still have required PE classes and swim tests?

      • That's exactly the point. If just any old person could go out and start doing something they learned without paying their dues we would have anarchy as far as the establishment was concerned, that and very low prices.
      • by shoor (33382)

        "I'm sick of that presumption. The point of education SHOULD be to become educated."

        I'd say that is only an opinion. The word 'university' comes from a Medieval Latin word that was synonymous with 'guild', and, from very early on, a doctorate was a certificate that allowed one to teach. In other words, you got it as an accreditation needed for a job.

        I'm actually pretty sympathetic to the idea of knowledge for knowledge's sake, and the concept wasn't unknown even in the Middle Ages. I seem to recall that

    • If it lets someone in the middle of nowhere get their GRE so that they CAN go to college, what's the harm?

      Or watching stuff to brush up on some stuff like Thermodynamics. I know I'd love to go back and sit through a lecture or two of my controls classes.

      The problem with MIT's Opencourseware is that it's just a full lecture online, sometimes with accompanying notes/homework. The hole that no one has filled is 400, 500, 600 level courses (Senior, Grad level) done like Kahn. It'd be something that I might even

  • by mmcxii (1707574) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:10PM (#40716557)
    Since when has education become a competition?
    • Re:Catch? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chonnawonga (1025364) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#40716593)

      Since when has education become a competition?

      Since it became a business.

      • Re:Catch? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:23PM (#40716715)

        >>>became a business.

        Which has been true since before recorded history. Education has always involved paying a tutor or lecturer to teach the younger generation, and thus the tutors were actually businessmen selling a service.

        • No argument here. And by extension, it's been a competition since before recorded history.

        • by chippey (1300023)
          Getting teachers and educators paid != try to squeeze every bit of profit out of students. My interpretation of Chonnawonga's comment is that there has been a transition of focus from education's primary goal of educating and imparting knowledge and learning (paying the teachers enough for a liveable wage), to 'education' as a business where the primary goal is to profit and make money for the bureaucratic overhead.
          • by cpu6502 (1960974)

            >>>to 'education' as a business where the primary goal is to profit and make money for the bureaucratic overhead.

            You just described "college" for the last 200 years. They all have the same goal of extracting as much money as possible from the student, in order to fund their internal plans (such as inventing some new gadget or process that they can make money from).

      • by ethanms (319039)

        Mod Parent Up

    • by Bigby (659157)

      Back when education got better.

  • Udemy, (Score:2, Informative)

    by cpu6502 (1960974)

    My Kindle just lit-up with an ad from this company. 2 online courses for Excel at $35 (instead of 200). I was tempted to click "buy" however I know nothing about this company. I don't just hand money to random corps.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:17PM (#40716627)

    There have been good textbooks for centuries. Watching a video is not going to improve things much. Online quizzes don't make people brilliant.

    The first reason the top universities are at the top is their research output.

    And the reason undergraduates excel at those top universities is that they spend almost every day for several years in contact with the people and resources which make that research possible. They go to tutorials. They chat through problems. They do extended lab work. They write extended pieces of work which are marked carefully by experts who can provide interactive feedback.

    The Open University, the pioneering distance education factility in the UK which has several hundred thousand part-time and FTE students, has since 1969 provided more than all these supposedly "new" online education providers: custom textbooks tailored for learning with worked problems; a tutor who will mark your work and who you can contact whenever you want when you have a problem; several face-to-face tutorials throughout the year; possibly one or more residential schools; etc. Exams are all done in exam centres under exam conditions. Even then, it cannot hope to match the best red brick universities.

    Khan knows how to market itself. It gives an opportunity to those dilettantes who don't know where else to find the information, online or offline. But it won't produce a new generation of leaders / top thinkers.

    • by White Flame (1074973) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:54PM (#40717105)

      There have been good textbooks for centuries. Watching a video is not going to improve things much.

      Oh yes it does. A conversational description of the material, as opposed to over-edited reference-worthy technical descriptions, can go a very long way in helping understanding. Seeing the interaction of somebody actually working through a problem and pointing things out (including their thought process), instead of a terse list of opaque steps, is huge. Along with the slides and downloads, all the reference material is still represented, but watching another human demonstrate the information is much often a faster and deeper way to communicate the same concepts. Not everybody can learn as well from just reading textbooks, even the good ones. Even if they can, going through a video lecture before reading the text seems to be a great way to make the reading far more meaningful, as familiarity has been bootstrapped.

      There is merit to the other facets you describe, but lowering the cost and other barriers to entry to actual training (not just reference materials) is an amazing step forward.

      • Not everybody can learn as well from just reading textbooks, even the good ones.

        Regardless, the skill and/or patience to learn from reading books is invaluable. If you want to learn things, learning how to use textbooks is a great place to start.

        IMO, text is a much more efficient means of storing and communicating information than video, in general. Printing it on paper also makes information more accessible in terms of price and technological requirements.

        • by del_diablo (1747634) on Friday July 20, 2012 @05:25PM (#40718391)

          Text versus video? Irrelevant. The core problem with education is that either the teachers are not up to the standard, or the books are poorly written. And what is Khans academy doing? They are doing videos, but that is irrelevant in itself, what they are actually doing is to do a proper job at TEACHING their material, in contrast to many sources.
          If you have a problem with Khan being video, then why don't you have a problem with subpar teaching in general?

          • If you have a problem with Khan being video, then why don't you have a problem with subpar teaching in general?

            Who, besides you, indicated that I don't have a problem with subpar teaching?

            All else being equal, I believe that text is superior to video for providing educational material.

      • by dcollins (135727)

        "...watching another human demonstrate the information is much often a faster and deeper way to communicate the same concepts."

        Well, I just flat-out disagree. I've tried to go through at least two online video courses, and for me video is insanely slow and frustrating. I can't efficiently see where to skip ahead when someone is blathering on about obvious things (to me), and I can't search for key words or definitions. This is purely personal opinion, but I am truly boggled at the idea that anyone finds vid

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        You know what's WAY better than watching a video? Having an actual live person do the same thing, interactively.

        Videos are horrible for people who do learn well from books, and they're not so great for hands on learners either.

    • And the reason undergraduates excel at those top universities is that they spend almost every day for several years in contact with the people and resources which make that research possible. They go to tutorials. They chat through problems. They do extended lab work. They write extended pieces of work which are marked carefully by experts who can provide interactive feedback.

      Ahhh...hahahahaha! Oh, my, god, what a fucking JOKE! There might be maybe 2 universities where this idyllic scenario actually plays out (and even then probably not at the undergrad level). Wayyyy over here in the real world, that never fucking actually happens, and if it's your justification for traditional education, then it's an enormous rationalization of keeping things the way they are.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:18PM (#40716641)

    I've been buying their product since the 90s when they were called "The Great Teachers" company. I took advantage of their once or twice-a-year sales to clear the warehouse. A customer can buy an entire course (~50 hours) for about the same cost as a month of cable. I learned more about history, language, philosophy from those audiocassettes than 5 years of actual college.

    • I learned more about history, language, philosophy from those audiocassettes than 5 years of actual college.

      I seriously doubt that. You may have amassed more facts - but facts aren't learning. When you take a serious degree, you also learn how to think and handle information via writing papers and interaction/discussion between yourself and other students and the professor.

      • you also learn how to think and handle information via writing papers and interaction/discussion between yourself and other students and the professor.

        If you didn't know how before, then I think it's likely that you were doomed before you ever began.

  • This is the only Khan I like on YouTube...

    Khaaaaan!!!! [youtube.com]
  • by djbckr (673156) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:22PM (#40716689)
    It really all comes down to this. Kahn Academy is non-profit, and is more interested in the public good. Everybody else that wants to get on this bandwagon simply can't compete with this, because they want money, and lots of it. Nobody else will be able to stop them.
    • This is not a universal.

      If there is money to be made in doing good, someone just might do good better to make that money.

      A non-profit staffed by motivated visionaries and given sufficient funding will usually do far better, but the non-profit is only one aspect of that.

    • by bcrowell (177657)

      It really all comes down to this. Kahn Academy is non-profit, and is more interested in the public good. Everybody else that wants to get on this bandwagon simply can't compete with this, because they want money, and lots of it.

      Huh? Either you don't know what you're talking about or you're describing the situation in some country I've never heard of. This is certainly not the situation in the US.

      Just to pick a few random examples in the US, the University of California is nonprofit; the ivy leagues are all nonprofit; the University of Chicago is nonprofit.

      At least in the US, for-profit colleges [wikipedia.org] are a relatively recent innovation, and typically they are scams. They bring in underprepared students, suck up their government benefits

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:22PM (#40716703)

    There's a lot of stuff being offered by traditional universities which is way above Khan's level. Khan is great for an introduction, and even a bit more, but that is all. For example, take a look at Stanford's Convex Optimization course: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McLq1hEq3UY
    Khan doesn't offer anything close to that. There's plenty of room for competitors to grow.

  • The model of education used in the IS for the last 100 years or so is no longer sufficient. Online courses will be part of whatever the new system will be, but only a part.
    • more trades like systems is needed and less class room time with more hands on parts.

      So part of issues is the ties to past where there is too much put into a 4 year degree skipping over the more focused trades / tech school learning there it should be not tied to a degree plan I think that some of the lack of respect does come from them trying to be 2 or 4 year degree places when they should really be trades based and offer classes on a 'Badges' like system.

      Also a other down side of putting too much into a

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      to be fair some places have been doing "online" trainign for a long time - the Open University [wikipedia.org] in the UK has been around since the 60s, using late-night TV broadcast to deliver content (obviously this was the days before constant re-runs of crappy cop dramas)

      If you want to know what it was like, check out this parody [youtube.com] of it by the great Fry and Laurie, or this one [youtube.com] that's a little more accurate.

  • by ebusinessmedia1 (561777) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:25PM (#40716733)

    Khan Academy is a great resource, but it's far from a perfect substitute if one want to accomplish deep learning. The fact is that there is a LOT of free and very helpful tutorial learning material on the Internet. Khan has caught a lot of interest because of the sheer scale that Sal Khan accomplished on his own. I think it's a great tool, but is becoming quite overrated in terms of what we know from those who teach face-to-face, and learning science.

    Here are some valid criticisms of Khan Academy. http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/castingoutnines/2012/07/03/the-trouble-with-khan-academy/?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en [chronicle.com]

    http://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/khan-academy-and-the-effectiveness-of-science-videos/ [wordpress.com]

    In sum, Khan Academy is NOT a revolution in learning; it's a tool that many will use to help revolutionize education.

    • Khan Academy is doing much more than publishing videos. They are creating a bunch of software to establish topic networks, tests, student tracking, etc. They are even testing an inverted scheme of education where students watch videos on their of (as homework) and go to class to exercise and being able to question the teachers and discuss the topics. This heavily impacts the ability of the teachers to provide more individual help while at the same time avoids lectures that go at the rate of the slower stude
    • If someone only memorized facts, then I think they've missed the point of the website.

  • Different Audience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:28PM (#40716771)

    Khan Academy targets a wider audience than the others that are mentioned. Most of the others are aimed at university level education. For example, Coursera is mostly undergraduate courses like Algorithms and Cryptology. Udacity has some machine learning car. A lot of these are also tech based and/or programming based.

    Meanwhile, Khan Academy offers everything from elementary Algebra and Geometry to Calculus and Differential Equations. So they reach the whole k-12 audience which the others will not reach. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just a different product. I hope they don't water down Coursera because it's good at what it does: free undergraduate level courses. I don't want it to spend time doing 8th grade Geometry, Khan does that already!

  • by Bruce66423 (1678196) on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:53PM (#40717095)
    Having done a normal university course, a couple of decades ago, and now having experienced normal distance learning, where there is no interaction with other students, some with limited interaction, and some with a lot, I am totally convinced of the value of student contact with other students as a necessary element for really effective learning. Similarly the opportunity to challenge a lecturer over an issue is totally lacking in the Khan model; whilst that works to some extent for purely technical subjects, even there robust seminars are a useful adjunct to pure lectures. And it's this area where Khan will fall down; it's good as a means of transmitting knowledge from the lecturer to the notebook of the student - but education should be more than that. And it's that second element that costs the money to provide.
  • school should not be about makeing money covering costs and yes paying people good pay (not CEO pay) is ok.

    But some places take that makeing money way to far with jacking up credits needed to pass, Fees, Forced meal plans and foreced room and board fees.

  • by manaway (53637) on Friday July 20, 2012 @04:01PM (#40717197)

    Khan's lectures are simple, accurate, and highly valuable. However, how much does one learn from passively watching great lectures which ignore a student's missteps and false presumptions? This Veritasum video on Khan's videos [youtube.com] demonstrates the effectiveness, or rather ineffectiveness, of at least some kinds of video learning. (And yes, the irony of using a video to teach the ineffectivenss of educational videos will not be lost on anyone.)

  • by Ransak (548582) on Friday July 20, 2012 @04:03PM (#40717225) Homepage Journal
    "Fair enough, but in its essence, teaching is a performance art." - Amy Farrah Fowler
  • Oh c'mon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Friday July 20, 2012 @04:08PM (#40717287) Homepage

    Can Anyone Catch Khan Academy?

    Anyone? No. Someone? Probability would say "yes".

    Universities are investing millions in software for 'massive online open courses' or MOOCs, but unless they can figure out how to make their material fun as well as instructive, Khan may have an insurmountable lead.

    What a load of crap. I love Khan's materials, but not because they are fun, but because they are valuable. Plus, I had plenty of college professors that made their lectures fun. And I had classes that were some of the most imporant in my education, and I know the subject and delivery weren't fun. Fun is not an intrinsic property of good education.

    Edutainment != education. Such is the state of our sorry ZOMG-Kardashian society.

    Also there is pretention in the quoted text that colleges are having a hard time producing instructive online material. Seriously, have they never seen a Stanford/MIT online lecture? There are many universities out there providing grad-level education online with success.

    Another thing that people misconstrue (and not a criticism of Khan's videos, but of the fanboys who do) is that Khan's videos are nice to watch because... gasp, they are, in general, relatively shorter than a full-blown lecture. A 90-minute long video lecture will bore you down no matter how "fun" the instructor is. Specially if the material is dense. Or try a 3 hour video lecture. You'll be crawling off the walls even if it is performed by your favorite professor (I know because I've had to take those lectures @ WPI.)

    1. If Google were to decide to put its might behind Udacity (which is really fine material btw), wouldn't anyone think that it would pass over Khan Academy? Ergo, the title of this story is an oxymoron like no other.

    2. Universities will adapt, prices will go down. They won't get replaced by them, in particular when it comes to research. What I see here is that these private enterprises will accelerate adoption of online media by brick-n-mortar schools (which has been occuring since before Khan came into the picture.)

    This is not to take anything away from Khan's marvelous work. But for Christ' sake, don't treat it like the second coming holding the holy grail while riding a silver bullet.

  • It is the notion that someone will come along and take what Khan has done and make it a real substitute for traditional in class learning. Khan has taken a very altruistic approach to learning. He believes that it should be free to anyone that wants it. American universities, especially private universities, are most definitely in it to make money. Yes, they want to educate people but make no mistake - they want to bring in as much cash as they can. Look no further than college sports for evidence of that.
    • by brillow (917507)

      Yeah, they are really gonna get rich with these free online courses. Courses taken by people they wouldn't accept as students even if they could afford it.

      The reason the universities are doing it is because it raises their profile. Suddenly everyone who takes a course from MIT might think "hey we should give MIT more money, I'm gonna think about that when I vote."

      This is not about money per se, its about marketing. A university's sports team is it's marketing division. Oregon is the best example. They

  • college for all and the one size fit's all ideas = what we are seeing today in Universities.

    Yes do need some post high school learning but we are going about it in not the right way.

    Not all people are cut out for college and not all courses plans / classes are at the college level and other stuff is just fluff and filler.

  • are 2-3 year core only degrees a good way to go?

    The old ideas of being well rounded is moving to the nice to have part and why should you pay $20,000+ a year to lean art history and music when you don't want to get into them but are forced to take classes to just to fill credits?

    • by brillow (917507)

      The problem is that most of today's fields of work are hard enough that the easy stuff has been done. We don't need biologists who know biology. We need biologists who know philosophy. We need ecologists who know physics. We need geneticists who know algorithms.

      If you wanna skip art history fine, but the guy next to you who did take it just might have learned something that gives him an edge.

      Steve Jobs took a lot of his inspiration from caligraphy crissakes.

      Being well-rounded is more important than it E

  • I think Khan summed it up best during one of his talks on what education was supposed to be and where he was going with his academy.

    He talked about some of his great teachers in the past and some of the historical greats like Isaac Newton, what if they had made videos? A one time effort and it would affect generations far into the future by giving them access to these poeple.

  • Free online course material is not supposed to be a competitive market.
    And I doubt that the people at MIT are really coming up with strategies to crush their "competition".

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Friday July 20, 2012 @08:16PM (#40720019) Homepage

    http://www.post-scarcity-princeton.com/ [post-scarc...nceton.com]
    From the essay I wrote four years ago: "... We are witnessing a historic end to scarcity of many things (maybe not all, but enough to be a new global Renaissance). But is Princeton University helping prepare either students or the rest of society for these changes? Or is it instead an institution under stress, crashing into these trends instead of moving with them? Or is it perhaps conflicted in how it sees itself and its future, and so trying to do both these conflicting approaches at once? ... Capitalism is often it seems all about cost cutting. Why do people have such a hard time thinking about what happens as costs approach zero, even for improvements in quality? Or why do economists have a hard time understanding that many conventional economic equations may produce infinities as costs trend towards zero? ... Here is one approach to "reboot" Princeton for a post-scarcity world. This is just an example. No doubt the creative minds on campus can come up with better proposals once they turn their attention to the matter. Should these be followed, it's a lot more likely I might encourage my own child to apply in a dozen years or so. ..."

  • by zmooc (33175)

    3200? That's nothing! http://www.youtube.com/user/nptelhrd [youtube.com] has 9935 technical lectures from all seven Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

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