Friday, March 23, 2012

Backpacks full of books will soon be a memory. Books already are a novelty. Encyclopedia companies aren’t even printing out their volumes and some are out of business. Everything can be found on a plug in device and on line. Bill Gates gave a on line tutor $15 Million bucks and uses the site to help his kids with math. There are many bookless schools now.
Try to remember your favorite teacher that appealed to 25 kids in the classroom . Now imagine that same great teacher being able to share their method of teaching to the world. It is happening more every day. One guy that is endorsed by Bill Gates is Salman Khan who is teaching on his website called Khan Academy.
He is determined to change how we learn at every level with digital lessons and simple exercises. Gates says that this method is giving us a glimpse into the future of education. Kahn is 35 years old, and has earned 3 degrees from MIT and another degree from Harvard so, he must know stuff.
From a tiny office he records 10 minute lessons and writes from his stylus on a digital blackboard. He then uploads his lessons to his website where you can find 3,000 other lessons he has already saved for your viewing pleasure for free. So, Mom, go play tennis and tell the kids to find help with their homework on line. See ya later!
In just a few years he has gone from just having a few hundred students to more than 4 Million. He is probably the most watched teacher in the world now. His work consists of mostly math lectures but he is rapidly expanding to other subjects . He starts with basic addition continuing to advanced calculus. He can breakdown the applications of math to correlations to physics, biology, astronomy, history and medicine. How great is it if someone can convince you that math applies to all aspects of life and prove it with detailed examples? Even hockey players are creating algebraic triangles when they plan out their shots.
He has covered so many subjects that if you watched all the information he provides for free on the subjects , you would have 8 years of information. It gives new meaning to home schooling and is great for adults who need to catch up on stuff they never learned as a child. It all started in 2004 when he had a job as a hedge fund analyst in Boston. His cousin a 7th grader was having problems with math in New Orleans. He agreed to tutor her remotely and wound up posting lessons on You Tube where total strangers were benefiting from the tutorials.
So, in 2009 he quit his job and worked entirely on Khan Academy. It is a not-for-profit site with a mission to provide “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” Then Bill Gates announced at the 2010 Ideas Festival that he and his family use the Khan site for their learning source. Quite an endorsement coming from one of the smartest, wealthiest most influential men in the world.
That was just 2 years ago and now with a donation of $15 Million dollars from the Gates Foundation and Google, Khan is now able to hire some of the most talented engineers and designers in the country. The advantage is for kids and adults rich or poor to be able to learn at their pace anywhere. If you don’t have a computer at home there are places like some schools keeping their computer labs open till 10 at night for anyone to come to use the computers. Nice!
We all know that education is power and this is a grand opportunity for the next generation to get educated say if the parents can not help them or if they are new immigrants and have language barriers. Kids can practically teach themselves with this kind of aid to give them an advantage and take as much time as they need to learn a concept. There is no failing here and no complaints about a bad teacher.
What is happening is flipping the classroom. No books , you read the tutorials at home, you do the problems in class with your teacher. Yes, the traditional homework assignments are done in class where changes can be made quickly to complete the assignments. No more” OH Crap! I did it all wrong!” The classroom now consists of computers at every desk and the teacher going around with an I Pad. Hope the power doesn’t go out!

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