Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Khan Academy

My sister and her American family visited Malaysia during the Summer. Her eldest son, having completed his freshman year, will be entering his sophomore year soon.

He is a top-notch student. In my proud avuncular eyes, he's likely to graduate with a magna cum laude or. at the very least, summa cum laude.

But, he was home-schooled. That intrigued me. So, I interviewed him intermittently.

My nephew said that in the first few months it was tough going because it felt strange to be sitting at home and listen to recorded teaching. Eventually he got used to it.

More importantly, I asked him how he got by without any tuition (a popular past time for young Malaysians with kiasu parents). He said he relied on the Khan Academy website.

"What?", I thought.

I furtively moved toward the iMac and googled "Khan Academy".

The website and its YouTube video tutorials blew me away. I, later, found out that it also blew Bill Gates away when he also found out that his daughter (I think it was) was also using the Khan Academy's tutorial resources.

Unlike impecunious me, Bill Gates got the Bill and Melinda Foundation to use its considerable resources to provide financial support for the Khan Academy. 

So, back to the story...

I excitedly whispered to my 16-year old son that he should check out the Khan Academy website for video tutorials on any subject that he needed more help on (in addition to the tuition he was getting .... yes, mea culpa my children attend tuition classes too!).

He looked at me impassively and replied that he WAS already using the Khan Academy resources.

Since my son turned 13, I have been having this discomfiting feeling that my stature has shrunk in his eyes from that of a god to a demi-god to a mere human and, now, close to a cretin (probably already one).

Mind you, I'm beginning to surreptitiously listen to specific tutorial topics in the Khan Academy, particularly on areas that I was such a dud on, like geometry, calculus, algebra and other branches of mathematics.

So, those of you who have school-going children may wish to get them to check out the Khan Academy website

And, no, there is no upper-age limit. So, you, too, can get on it and learn something!

The only catch is that EVERYTHING IS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!

7 comments:

hishamh said...

bro de minimis,

I must confess, we've been going over the Khan Academy tutorials with our daughter since last year.

de minimis said...

Bro hishamh, good for you!

walla said...

It's a good pull/push model for the MOE's education technology and course content units which seem to have spent millions to no avail.

Easy to develop, cheap and fast to distribute, and scalable across all subjects. Importantly, it can reach the rurals and give young minds there a filip - bring the world to them at a click.

But omigosh, was that an uncharacteristically uncurling comment from me?

The worldwide web is rich in store of such things. Take it one more step and you get open coursewares like http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm . Delve further into knowledge databases and you'll look at the world differently, not diffidently.

But most of them are in the english language. Not just science and maths.

So how do we reengineer teachers to teach in english so that students can benefit from the khan academies of the world at no cost to the country?

By the tail of that cow.

..what a relief, back to normal self.

De minimis needn't have to worry about being perceived a cretin. In the direction and at the rate we are all heading, he'll have ph'lunty company.

de minimis said...

Oi bro walla, be gentle. My ego is quite fragile you know ;D

masterwordsmith said...

:-) My former classmate sent me the link to Khan Academy a few months ago and I have been watching the videos for Maths. :-)

Great that you blogged about this.

Cheers

Quiet Despair said...

My kids who are schooling in America also rely on Khan Academy tutorials.
There is no such thing as tuition in the States.

msleepyhead said...

Hi dm,

Watch Salman Khan of Khan's Academy himself demo the site in a talk on TED.

There is no such thing as tuition in the States.

There you go, a good business opportunity for enterprising Malaysians over there. With the increasing number of Asians in the Land of the Free, it's only a matter of time.