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An article by Somini Sengupta in the NY Times describes a classroom in which the teacher wanders the room and watches each math student do their work. He’s watching their work as it appears on the laptop he carries.
He sees a girl zipping through her geometry exercises; he notices that one boy is stuck on long equations. Another boy, he sees, is getting a handle on probability.
The software that has made this possible is the brainchild of Salman Khan, an Ivy League-trained math whiz and the son of an immigrant single mother.
Khan, 35, is the online sensation whose Khan Academy math and science lessons on YouTube have attracted up to 3.5 million viewers a month.
This new venture is more ambitious, and is still being tested.
This semester at least 36 schools nationwide are trying out Khan’s experiment — according to Sengupta, “splitting up the work of teaching between man (sic) and machine, and combining teacher-led lessons with computer-based lectures and exercises.”
Hundreds of companies are trying to sell their products to school systems, making confusing claims and offering big contracts.
“Why shouldn’t it be free?”
But Khan’s venture stands out, in that the lessons and software tools are entirely free. They’re available to anyone with access to a reasonably fast Internet connection.
The core of our mission is to give material to people who need it. You could ask ‘why should it be free?’ But why shouldn’t it be free?
Says Sengupta, it is too early to know whether the Khan Academy software makes a real difference in learning.
A limited study in Oakland this year suggests that children who had fallen behind in math can catch up equally well if they used the software or were tutored in small groups.
The research firm SRI International is working on an evaluation of the software in the classroom.
For the entire article, and more about Khan’s background and the impact of his model, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/technology/khan-academy-blends-its-youtube-approach-with-classrooms.html?ref=sominisengupta
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