My first glimpse of what was possible in education came from Salman Khan. He showed me that if I had a good internet connection and a tablet the usual limitations of the classroom disappeared. Salman Khan launched the Kahn Academy in 2006, well before the whole MOOC thing started. Before the Khan Academy was even a concept, he was using a Yahoo Doodle notepad (almost a historical artifact now) to help his nieces and nephews with their maths homework. When their friends asked to watch the videos, he uploaded them to youtube. And that was the origin of the Khan Academy.
Pedagogically, the Khan videos are brilliant – short videos provide little bites, increasingly complex bites, and utter freedom for users to tackle them in whichever order they want. The length of the videos – I don’t think any one of them is longer than 15 minutes – allow users to tackle one problem/concept at a time. They are educational and chatty and illustrated in the simplest of ways – this is not high production value video, and yet, they are utterly engaging. Where some online classes can be a brain-numbingly boring experience, esp. if the course content has not been adapted to the medium and all you have is a camera filming a professor, Khan videos are like potato chips – you can’t just have one, you keep going until the bag is empty. I am not kidding, even the maths proofs are fun (I don’t necessarily get them, but that’s my short-coming, not Khan’s).
And now, Khan en español! Well, not quite. But it’s headed in that direction – all the videos available on es.khanacademy.org now have an app built in that allows users to translate the videos into Spanish. This is/will be the Spanish language Khan academy. The front page is en español as are the tabs that take you to the subject headings and video titles. The videos have a space below them for subtitles – and this is where users can contribute to spreading the Khan lessons beyond the English language shores. I think it’ll be sort of a wiki-translate experience. Click on the image below for a screen shot of what a page at the Khan Academía looks like right now.
If any of my students are reading this – guess what extra-credit/karma-credit assignment I’ll soon be offering?