In recent years, there have been many people and organizations who have dedicated themselves to improving the declining American school system. Unfortunately, it’s turned out to be an incredibly difficult task.
Many feel that the lack of any significant change is due in part to the bureaucracies in place and the resistance of the teacher’s unions, which have opposed charter schools, vouchers, or anything that might put the teacher in a different role.However, one man working in his closet with a YouTube camera and a microphone could be the answer to reforming education in a manner that no billion dollar non-profit organization has yet been able to accomplish.
The Khan Academy started when Salman Kahn was tutoring his cousins over the Internet in math. After making the videos using a virtual chalkboard, Kahn posted the video on YouTube and saw that thousands of viewers were taking advantage of them to learn math and science. At the time Kahn, who has a Harvard MBA, was working for a hedge fund in Silicon Valley, but he gave all of that up to pursue what soon became known as the Kahn Academy.
Hundreds of lessons later, Google awarded Kahn a grant of $2 million to keep the videos coming. Now the Kahn Academy has 1,928 videos and his lessons have counted more than 30,000,000 views.
There are two lessons that can be taken from this case study. In the new media environment, sometimes things that are free can be as good or better than something you might pay a premium price for. For example, Kahn offers calculus courses online. Some of his students have said that his courses are better than what they received from very good universities. Kahn’s videos have received far more views than M.I.T’s or Harvard’s similar public domain free videos.
It seems that “free” just might be the new buzz word and price for high quality content. Could our public schools and universities benefit from this innovative model for education?
Learn more about the amazing, and totally free Khan Academy at