Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kahn Academy Math and Science Videos

There is a demand for niche, alternative and targeted education. Salman Khan is one of the folks meeting this demand by creating math and science videos and using his YouTube Channel as a distribution point.

This is an example of a video explaining ratios:

The videos ain't pretty but they get the job done for students, parents and others that have struggled understanding math and science concepts. According to the statistics he provides on his web site, the videos have a viewership 70,000 students watching his videos a month.

There are 1,100 videos in math, science and branching out to finances and other topics.

Voluntarily. Via word of mouth and social media. For example, 15,594 people as of this writing have watched Systems of Equations.

Here is the kicker. Mr. Khan is not a traditional teacher. He certainly is educated man; Salman has a MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Math from MIT. But he was an senior analyst at an investment fund when he started creating the videos.

Salman Khan is doing this for free at the moment. There is a donate button on the web site but this is costing him money to do this. He is certainly getting paid with recognition, respect, building credibility, a loyal audience.

In fact, reading the comments on his videos has been a lesson in itself. They are some of the most respectful you'll find on YouTube. Yes, they will point out when he makes a mistake but the rascals are working together to solve math problems.

I'm sure he has bounced a troll or two but for the most part it is respectful. In some of the comments I've read there are request for specific topics of math videos. Students asking for math videos. I'm fanning myself and doing the internal happy dance.

Salmon is not the first person to post math and science videos on the Internet. There are other videos that have the same production values or are top class affairs that follow the structure of traditional e-learning and presentation.

These videos resonate with the folks from a specific population, those needing help with math and science. Students were searching in a familiar area that they were comfortable in. Salman Khan provided videos of what they wanted in a format that was accessible.

So What Can We Learn From Khan Academy?

  • Plan what you want to do and then go for it.
  • There is a need for a variety of content and education is just an example of when there is a need there is an opportunity to create a solution. Web video can be a part of that solution.
  • It does not have to Captain Wizbang fancy or expensive. Salman's videos are as basic as it gets.
  • Do not dismiss the power of word of mouth or social media.

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