Khan Academy

on-demand computing

On-demand (OD) computing is an increasingly popular enterprise model in which computing resources are made available to the user as needed.

The Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization that provides free movie tutorials and interactive exercises. The Academy’s announced mission is “changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”

The lessons were conceived primarily for distance learning but are also suitable for use in the classroom. The tutorials are informal in style and organized for building skill one concept or lesson at a time. Many lessons are delivered as electronic blackboard talks by someone with an apparent enthusiasm for the topic.

Khan Academy website users can maintain records of their progress. Through the website, teachers can also monitor the progress of students who are using the site. In pilot experiments, schools are using a concept called “flipping the classroom,” which involves students watching the Khan Academy lectures at home and then using classroom time for exercise and testing. In this model, the teacher’s role is switched from lecturer to tutor and progress monitor.

Salman Khan, a hedge fund manager, created the very first movie to help his youthfull cousin with her math. Khan, who has three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, found he was able to create brief, informal lessons very quickly (he used Yahoo’s Doodle notepad). Encouraged by his own progress and, very soon, a large YouTube following, Khan abandon his hedge fund job and began the Academy.

Bill Gates discovered the site as a source of learning for his son and began to suggest the financial support of his charitable foundation. Today, supported further with contributions from Google and others, the Khan Academy has a dedicated professional staff headed by the founder and a growing number of volunteers who lend their expertise to create lessons in fresh subject areas.

The Khan Academy can be seen as one of the best publicized and most promising examples of the power of the Internet to educate and to convert traditional education. As of 2015, the Academy suggested over learning content for over Five,000 subjects — a good many on mathematics and the sciences but also including, for example, economics and art history. According to the Khan Academy’s website, it has delivered over 132,909,653 lessons.

The Khan Academy is part of an ongoing trend to making educational resources loosely available online for users all over the world. Related resources include MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) and various massively open online courses (MOOC).

See Sal Khan’s presentation at TED Talks 2011:

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