Thursday, August 12, 2010

Khan Academy. Free Education for Anyone, Anywhere.

So inspiring. Just get out there and do it.

Check out Salman Khan's Kahan Academy.

from the website:

Where are you from? What ethnicity/religion are you?

I was born and raised in New Orleans, Lousiana. My mother was born in Calcutta, India. My father was born in Barisal, Bangladesh.

If you believe in trying to make the best of the finite number of years we have on this planet (while not making it any worse for anyone else), think that pride and self-righteousness are the cause of most conflict and negativity, and are humbled by the vastness and mystery of the Universe, then I'm the same religion as you.

How did you get started?

My uncle's family visited me in Boston after my wedding in the summer of 2004. At some point during the trip, my Aunt told me that her daughter (my cousin) was having trouble with "unit conversion" which was not allowing her to be placed in the more advanced math track for 7th grade. Nadia was clearly a very bright girl, so I made a deal with her. I'd remotely tutor her for an hour after work as long as she was willing to do any extra work I gave her.

I began remotely tutoring Nadia in August of 2004. She was in New Orleans--where I also grew up-- so we used a telephone to talk and Yahoo Doodle as a shared notepad. Nadia ended up catching up and getting ahead of her class so I started tutoring her brothers, Arman and Ali, as well. Eventually, word got around and I was remotely tutoring and handful of cousins and family friends. Scheduling around my work, their soccer practice, and the different time zones became a little ridiculous, so I started to make YouTube videos for them to watch in their own time, at their own pace.

It didn't take long to see that other students (including adult learners) were hungry for videos like these so I kept going!

Even before I made the videos, I started writing simple Javascript problem generators so that my cousins would never run out of practice problems. I wanted to know when and how they were doing the problems, so I added a database to track usage. 70 modules and 10,000 lines of code later (much of which has made the software adaptive) , it has morphed into the adaptive math program on our site.

How did you have the time to do this while working full-time?

My wife was doing her residency--in internal medicine-- from 2005 to 2008, so there were many nights/weekends where she was working and I would have felt guilty doing anything less productive. I also try to watch very little television. On top of that, I was working at an investment fund that had me working 5am to 2pm (we were working East Coat hours from California) so my afternoons were free (although I did go to bed at 9).

Check out Neil Radia and Megha Jain's World Possible.

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