Khan Academy Vision

What Khan Academy
is today could best be described as a
tool or a resource. It’s right now if you go
to the site we have videos, we have interactive
exercises, we have dashboards for teachers. And so depending it could
be used as a teacher to help their students. It could be used by
a homeschooler who wants to learn
something independently. It could be used
for an adult who wants to review things that
might be relevant to whatever their exploring at the moment. But one thing I’d
like to be clear is we don’t view this as the
end all of what we think one, this could be, and
even how students should experience learning. We think that this is
really just version one. And it’s a very
primitive version right now of a tool that
will eventually empower a true interactive
vision of education. And the other thing I
want to make very clear is we don’t see it is an
either or proposition. We don’t see it as a virtual
versus physical a versus Barnes Noble. We see it as a
virtual and physical. Or even better, how do we
use the tools and resources of the virtual? How do we use those to
actually empower the physical, to make the physical the
best possible experience. And in this vision of what the
total education experience can be we have a couple
of core philosophies. The first is the idea
of mastery learning. And I’ll write it in
quotes because mastery can mean different things
to different people. To us this is the general
idea that students should have deep conceptual
understanding of core ideas, of more fundamental ideas,
before they are pushed ahead to the more derivative ideas,
or the more advanced ideas. And so if you think of a
traditional progression in mathematics, although
we think that this applies beyond just mathematics,
traditional progression in mathematics you start
off with arithmetic. And then you go to algebra. And then you go through
trigonometry, and geometry, and all the rest. But you eventually
end up in calculus. And what we believe is happening
for too many students– and this is why so many
students end up having trouble with algebra and
definitely calculus– is they are not getting mastery
of the more fundamental ideas. We believe if
students have the time to really build a strong
foundation in arithmetic, including exponents
and whatever else, then by the time algebra
comes around they will have a better
intuition there. They will have a better
chance of understanding it. And if students have a
conceptual deep understanding of algebra, then calculus is
going to make a lot more sense. If you do it the
other way around, if you just push
students through so that they get through
with 80% 90% understanding, then what they essentially
end up doing just to survive is start doing a superficial
level of understanding. They start kind of
pattern matching their way through algebra or calculus. And not only does
that harm you later on as you keep building
on it, it also makes it almost impossible
to use these things in your everyday life. In our minds. It’s much more valuable to have
a deep understanding of algebra and being able to see the
world in an algebraic way, than just getting
through algebra and kind of
understanding calculus, but being able to apply or
really fundamentally understand neither. The other idea–
and this kind of gels with
mastery-based learning. You kind of can’t
have mastery-based learning, at least in our minds,
without a kind of self paced reality. Because if we really want
students to master things we really have to give
them the time and the space to master those concepts. If everyone else has mastered
it and they’re ready to move on. There’s no reason why
we have to move them on. We should let them
work at their own pace. The other big thing
about self-paced learning is that it creates
student ownership. And this is a huge,
huge, huge thing. Probably the most
important thing that you can learn while
you were learning in school isn’t necessarily any one
of these subject areas, figuring out how to solve
a system of equations or take an integral. The most important thing
to learn is how to learn. How do you take
ownership of something? How do you, to some degree, how
do you become your own guide? How do you set your own goals? And this can only happen
in a self-paced environment where, with mentorship, with
people who can guide you, you can say, look, this
is what I want to learn. This is how I want to
go about learning it. And this is what I’m
going to do to get there. And my goal is mastery. My goal isn’t just to get by. The other thing we
believe strongly in– and we’re been working
with many, many schools. We’ve been working
with many schools across all of this,
including just how we define our tools
and our resources. –is the idea of students
teaching students, or we could call it
may be peer-to-peer teaching and learning. And there’s an
obvious benefit there of if you have other
students around, maybe some who’ve gotten a
little bit further ahead who can tutor you. You have more access to people
who might be able to help you. But we think it’s at least
as powerful for the student getting tutored as it is for
the student doing the tutoring. Because it’s one thing to
do a lot of problem sets and to kind of go
through subjects in the traditional way. But to truly get
mastery of something, I think most teachers
would agree with this, you really have to teach it. You really have to be able
to distill it, and explain it, and help mentor
other people to it. And on top of that you’ll
build other soft skills, which are at least as important like
ownership, as these other kind of tangible skills,
the skills of empathy, the skills of being able
to listen to someone, the skills of being
able to guide someone without making them feel
intimidated or insecure. And then finally, the fourth
guiding principle for us is the idea that
students– and this is very core to the
physical experience– that when students are together
they should be interacting. So it should be interactive. And when we talk
about interactive and we’re not talking
about computer interactive. We’re talking about
physical interactive. They should interact
with other human beings. They should talk to them. They should smile. They should see them. And it should be inquiry based,
or exploration based, inquiry, exploration. And this is super key to
everything we believe. And this is why we are
actively experimenting with summer camps
that are driven all around this part
of the experience. It’s because we
believe that in order for a student to
truly internalize all of these things–
and it all goes together with especially
the idea of mastery –they need to struggle
with the ideas. They need to experience
them tangibly. And for example,
we have students they do things that are
implicitly probability. But they don’t know. They think they’re just
doing a simulation. They think that they’re just
playing some type of the game. But by doing those simulations
and those games, later on when they are exposed
to kind of the more formal academic ideas around
probability or expected value, they now have a tangible
understanding for them. They now have an intuitive
understanding for them. And they also see the value in
the more formal representation of it. So hopefully this gives a big
picture of what we are about. We are a tool and
a resource today. But the whole goal is
to keep [? iterating. ?] And we want people to use it
in any way that they see fit. It could be part of
a formal program. It could be a supplement. It could be used as
a review of somehow. But our real goal is how
can we optimize this tool. How can we improve this
tool so that we can really drive these values to make
a truly holistic education experience?


  1. Khan Academy should at least have forums for users to talk to each other. Then you guys should let learners find tutors or other learners to help each other out. People should also be able to fill out their profiles and let others know what they think they can help in (if they want). People looking for help could look up those public profiles. This way we can do video chats and share our screens. People could help students just like Khan Academy, except in real time.

  2. I agree that mastery of a level is necessary before moving on to the next level. Khan has helped me out a lot over the last 18 months. It's definitely NOT a replacement for studying from books I have found. Just sitting watching videos doesn't make one smart because you need the drill (exercises) to make it sink in. I find Khan's work great as a supplement to my other materials. Quite often I watch Khan's videos first to get me "wet", then go through my books and exercises.

  3. I agree with your theory that some students struggle with calculus due to the lack of proper understanding of basic arithmetic, but this also applies to CHEMISTRY!. I've found senior high school chemistry so confusing because I barely understood the basics. It took a while, but that costs a lot of time.

  4. duolingo, which is pretty good already or the currently very limited eslGenie would be nice affiliates to expand KhanAcademy's scope to languages.

  5. Yes, you're right. It will be fantastic when there's a good coverage on there, but there's lots of videos that don't have exercises at the moment. Additionally, I feel that some of the exercises are a bit "rigid" to fit into the exercise software template. I don't know if online exercises will ever be as good as those from a book. My rationale is that you have to enter the answer. The answer could be a complicated math expression, not easily enterable, also given answer could be correct (cont..)

  6. …but in a different form from the actual answer. This is the sort of thing a human is much better at checking. A computer could say "you got the answer wrong", but it could be the correct answer, just in a different form.

  7. Sal, you showed the world how to teach. Students studying education will submit thesis paper on you in future.
    If you tube exists my son will watch your videos also. Inshallah.

  8. There was a time when people journeyed days to meet sages. People left family, job and comfort to learn. But Time has come when I recline on my sofa and listen to a sage who worth crossing 7 seas to meet.

  9. I think that's a good idea, but forums require moderators. And moderators for forums like those at the Khan Academy should have real expertise not only in the subject matter, but also in teaching. That would require a professional donating their time free of charge. It can happen, but it might take a minute.

  10. khan academy should feature experts, other than Sal, on more detailed and advanced topics, of which Sal isn't educated about, or would have to learn them before teaching. This way we can have even university level stuff available.

  11. These principles remind me of the characteristics I've heard to describe Montessori education, at least the self-paced and interactive/exploration pieces. What is your view and/or experience of Montessori methods and how do you compare them with the Khan Academy philosophy?

  12. I just felt submerged in a profound state of joy watching this particular video. Even made me cry! there must be something wrong with me… Learning how to learn!!!! that clicked!!! the world needs some more of that. Thank you Sal!!!!!!

  13. COMPLETELY AGREED! (esp, with the first 2 lines). And there should also be written articles when interrnet connection is low, etc.

  14. I'm not sure if maybe my attitude has just changed but I do think that if when I was in school, if my teacher had showed a video or told us to check out you, periodicvideos, minutephysics, vihart, vsauce, smartereveryday, etc. It may have caught my interest a little more and I may have started to explore and try to learn more on my own, as well as get a better understanding of concepts. Thank you, to you and other channels like you.

  15. I like your vision, everyone learns at a different pace. I didn't do my hw in middle school, but i paid attention in class, so i ended up getting a D in 8th grade math, so they put me in MathA in freshman yr, it was stupidly easy, and my teacher knew it, so after a week i asked to be put in normal algebra, they put me in alg1-2, i ended up getting 2nd highest grade in class, then my teacher bumped me up to honors geometry, i ended up getting 2nd highest grade in class…continued…

  16. …my sister told me that algebra 3-4 was a complete repeat of 1-2, with almost nothing new, i should take it over the summer, I asked my teacher, he said no (at the time teacher signatures were required for something like that) when i ended up taking 3-4 over the normal year i found my sister was completely right, i learned NOTHING new until the VERY LAST MONTH when we covered trig, i was so bored in that class, i lost all my math drive, I ended up not doing hw again, getting a C…continued..

  17. and the next year in precalc i didn't care anymore having decided to go to art school, who knows what i would have become if i had been allowed to push ahead, my sisters both went to UCSB, for biology and chemical-engineering, respectively, my father was a chemical-engineer, my uncle a professor at Boulder Colarado teaching astro physics, my grandfather a mathmatician with an equation named after him. And me? About to finish a degree in storyboarding, something i truly enjoy… continued…

  18. …but sometimes i wonder what could have been.. Who knows now… but with these educational systems maybe i can pursue my own dreams…

  19. I'm so upset that I only found Khanacademy at the end of grade 12 when I was struggling, I have recommended it to a lot of my friends. It's a wonderful resource! Power to you Sal!

  20. Yes, they do a great job of hiding it, I agree. They are on git-hub. And you can search for Khan Academy Docs. They are running their support site for devs etc off google sites.

  21. Terrific vision of school learning — KA has a holistic vision that I have great faith in… you go, Salman!

  22. I'll go even further than that. They are a magnet to people that have nothing better to do than build their reputation so, later, they have an excuse to bully or, at least, act condescending to other users (for trivial reasons such as "because I have a high post count, I'm better").

  23. When you talk about mastery based learning it bring to mind the Spalding method of teaching English by having students master the sub skills of reading, writing and spelling. It works great.

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