At first I didn’t really get it. For years educators and governments have been breaking their heads trying to figure out how best to teach kids math. We’ve seen cool graphics, manipulatives, games, and fancy technology. Yet, the familiar refrains return: “I hate math!” “Math’s so boring!” “It’s too hard!” Along comes Khan Academy.
The concept is so simple it’s revolutionary: Every math skill and concept is broken down into a short 10-15 minute lesson. It’s not broken down by grade, but by topics. Click on whatever you need to work on and voila! A black screen appears on a Youtube video. Sal Khan’s voice welcomes you to the lesson, but you never see his face. It’s just his voice, writing down numbers and illustrating concepts on this black screen. Sometimes he uses a different colour pen. That’s as high-tech as the lesson gets. People love it. 79, 026,476 lessons have been watched so far. It’s completely free. Bill Gates endorsed Khan Academy, and schools are starting to integrate the Khan method and lessons into their own systems.
What’s his secret? In my daughter’s own words: “He’s a really good teacher. It’s faster than at school, and I learn it better.” She adds, “He also tells jokes. He has a whole section just for riddles. And he has history lessons too!”
The kids also enjoy doing the exercises that follow the lessons. Learners can work toward “badges” depending on how many questions are successfully completed. The program tracks each user’s progress in exercises, lessons viewed, and badges. It also tracks how much time was spent on each exercise. A web constellation displays which lessons to do next, and which skills you are still missing to progress.
A great teacher who knows his subject inside out. Brought right to your computer screen. It’s the old new way to learn. I am thinking of going through some of the math and history lessons myself!
What do you think of this “new” way of learning math?