By Brianna Kelley
I can see it now. A movie set in the future where students sitting in a lecture are listening to a hologram or video teach the class. While the metallic spandex space suits might still be a little far off, the idea of learning from an invisible teacher is quickly becoming a reality thanks to Sal Khan. Sal is the inventor of Khan Academy, what started as a simple YouTube video and has become a global phenomenon.
As an MIT grad it’s no surprise that Khan is a math whiz. So when his cousin was struggling with her math homework a few thousand miles away Khan did what any logical cousin would do- he created a series of YouTube videos where, using a tablet and doodle software, he drew out equations and explained how to solve them.
Quickly gaining views and popularity, Khan Academy is devoted to education ranging from math, to politics and art history with funding from the likes of Bill Gates and Google.
I can’t help but think about what this means for students, like myself. Elementary schools are already using the videos to “flip the classroom”- a new term meaning students watch the videos at night as homework and practice what they’ve learned during the day at school. One of my professors even joked that if this keeps growing he could be out of a job.
While students will always need a teacher- he might not be wrong about traditional lectures becoming a thing of the past. Colleges, including MIT, are already working on copycat websites where students and non-students will have access to university lectures.
Personally, I loved Khan Academy after watching just one video. I can only imagine how much easier it would make students’ lives. The lectures can be watched whenever you have time, they can be paused if you need to make dinner or write something down and most importantly, you can rewind if you miss something. It’s letting students of all ages take their education into their own hands. There are no graduation requirements, time restrictions or guidelines to watching and learning from the Khan videos.
Beyond making education easier for elementary through college students, Khan Academy also opens up education to anyone with access to the internet. Rather than trying to make sense of a textbook on their own, independent learners have something they can supplement their education with. If this concept keeps growing it can be implemented in countries where children don’t have access to traditional schooling; by adding topics and languages it has the potential to break the educational barrier all over the world.