Thursday, August 18, 2011

Using Video to Provide Free Education

Two of my passions in life are education and culture. When I say culture, I refer to a wide range of things: backgrounds, values, and interests; stories of good-fortune and misfortune; collective similarities that relate us as a human family; and unique patterns and distinct differences (evident on both an individual level and a group level) which cause the kind of introspection that promotes a metamorphosis in our behaviors, interests, etc. When I say education, I refer to connecting the new with the familiar, all forms of literacy, formal education (lessons learned in the classroom), and informal education (lessons learned from life experiences).

When the two are posited together--education and culture--a myriad of conditions can be conjured up in the mind: education for the poor and for the homeless, international education, higher education, drop-out rates, survival skills, etc.

As I reflect on what is being done in the world to promote education for all, I am encouraged to know that there are individuals out there striving to level the playing field by bringing education to all.
Recently I was introduced to Khan Academy, a non-profit that provides video-based education via the internet. Salman Khan has personally narrated over 2,400 lessons on topics ranging from algebra and computer science to biology and economics. His mission: to provide education that is free for all.

Watch Khan's TED talk on using video to "reinvent education" below:

Read or listen to Salman Khan’s story on NPR here.

Read or listen to another NPR story about how classrooms in Los Altos, California are using Khan Academy here.

And finally, watch Bill Gates' take on Khan Academy here.

Of course, this is just one example of the many groups out there trying to make a difference in the world by providing education to a wider audience, and it's a successful approach for many contexts. For other contexts, though, we first need to solve the issue of how to make this type of education more accessible to those without electricity, computers, or internet access. Then we just need to figure out a way to make this kind of resource more comprehensible and customized for non-native English speakers and non-readers...

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