Crowd-Sourced Online Academy has Delivered 40 Million Lessons

You may have heard of the Khan Academy, the groundbreaking non-profit online education center that provides thousands of YouTube lesson plans in math, science, and the humanities. Khan’s lessons span the absolute entry level — beginning courses in arithmetic, 2+2=5 type stuff — to college-level calculus. And that’s just math; the archives in science and the humanities are growing fast, too.

This quick, 2-minute video serves as a solid introduction:

Oh yeah; I forgot to mention the best part of the whole endeavor: It’s 100% free. And it’s of very high quality. Such high quality that Salman Khan, who began the academy in Boston, was one of the first projects to win grant money ($10 million) from Google’s philanthropic ventures arm. Now, the site boasts over 2,000 videos, and a unique tracking system that allows users to keep an exacting eye on how they’ve performed on the lesson-response questions that are available for each YouTube vid. You can create a Facebook profile to better track your — or your students’ or kids’ — progress, and see exactly where you might need to improve your skills or bolster your knowledge.

Oh, and did I mention that the Khan Academy’s ever-expanding body of lesson plans are contributed along peer-reviewed, open-source guidelines? And that it covers lessons on current events like the housing crisis and financial bailouts? And it’s all free. I have to admit I was skeptical when I read the Singularity Hub‘s proclamation that “the Khan Academy is the best thing that has happened to education since Socrates,” but now I’m closer to on board with that statement than not. It’s easily the most Utopian education project this side of the Free School movement — and even better tailored to our digitized, globalized world.

As of now, the Khan Academy has delivered nearly 40 million lessons. But they’re still largely supplemental to other conventional education institutions or used for general interest, though you could build a top notch home-schooling lesson plan here as well. However, as we continue to trend towards living our intellectual lives in digital spaces — reading e-books, devouring online news, debating current events on social media platforms — it makes sense that our formative education will be delivered more prominently through the same medium.

Screw charter schools — the future of education will look more like the Khan Academy.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant is a founding editor of the Utopianist.. When he's not helming the Utopianist, he is TreeHugger's politics writer, contributes the Getting Samy Out of Burma column to, and freelances for the likes of Salon and Paste. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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