Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Khan Academy just got $2M funding from a google contest. Here's an interview with the dude.

I am genuinely pretty excited about the potential of this kind of thing in medium-term future.

I know, people have been talking about the role of computers in education since basically forever, by which I mean at least the dawn of personal computers in the late 70s. But there's something about how this grew organically from just a dude making some youtube videos for his cousins that suggests that there is real demand for it, that its time has come, something that suggests it will succeed in a fundamentally novel way where more top-down "lets give laptops to all the childrens in our school district" seem to only make the standard educational pipeline more efficient, more enjoyable. Which effect I don't mean to diminish too much, but still.

The two central points to pay attention to are merely: (a) that learning and accreditation are separable, and (b) that data (videos, textbooks, programs that generate homework questions) can be copied forever. If instead of a gatekeeper trying to create artificial scarcity you have someone actively encouraging you to take their free content, the cost of creation --- considered in proportion to how useful it is --- goes to zero. The very existence of wikipedia and MIT's OCW and other similar things are already evidence of this.

You can say "pfff, sure, I've used a computer at least once in my life, I know that, what's the big deal?" which is exactly the point, I think.

This isn't someone trying to do something novel, this is a disembodied something that has already sunk into all of our brains as not novel, that is trying to get someone to do it. And it's beginning to really succeed.
Tags: internet, learning, videos

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