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The Kahn Academy

A while back I spoke with some acquaintances about how learning is applied in their organization. One of them told me that his organization was figuring out how to use the concept of the Khan Academy.

A search on Google provided a new insight into how to organize learning. I am impressed by the Khan Academy and the many opportunities it offers.

Khan Academy

The Khan Academy was founded by Salman Khan, a former financial analyst, who used homemade videos on the internet to tutor his nephews in mathematics. He later posted these videos on Youtube, where they have been viewed more than 100 million times. Khan’s Youtube channel now has more than 300,000 members. Thanks to donations from various funds, the Khan Academy has grown into an impressive collection of online lesson videos on math, science, finance and history, among others.

Impressive workflow

For example, the subject of mathematics has a collection of video courses that are all arranged in a tree structure. Each time the student completes a course (this is called a challenge with Khan’s skills),the system recommends one or more follow-up courses until the entire course is completed. This tree structure is called the ‘map of knowledge’.

The entire workflow of the Khan Academy is impressive. Not only the map of knowledge that allows students and teachers to see their progress, but also the extent to which Khan ensures that each part of a challenge is completed with a score of 100.

In the tree structure shown here, each box is a challenge. You can navigate between consecutive and related challenges or start a random challenge.

Going through the Khan Academy is gamified by the ability to obtain badges and avatars.

Flipping the classroom

Interesting in education through the Khan Academy is the phenomenon of flipping the classroom. At home, as a kind of homework, students watch the videos recommended for them in the map of knowledge on Youtube. During the day in the classroom they use the knowledge from the videos to make assignments. The teacher, as well as pupils who are already far ahead of the assignments, offer support to the pupils who need it.

Khan says that education is being “humanised” and that education is being humanised. The teacher can spend 100 of his time coaching children who are active and self paced. In other words, students are taught at home in the evening via video videos and apply the knowledge gained in the classroom during the day: flipping the classroom.

Khan in business

An interesting question is what the concept of the Khan Academy and flipping the classroom can mean for the training houses of companies and institutions. Free schools in math, chemistry or other school subjects is interesting, but adds little to the often very business- and application-oriented learning for companies and institutions.

However, the concept behind the Khan Academy is indeed applicable: freely accessible, short courses, all of which are part of an insightful ‘learning map’, which gives a recommendation on which courses a learner should go through. You can think of it as a form of adaptive learning. Of course, an organization is needed that takes care of the guidance and testing of learners. Testing according to the method of the Khan Academy would be great; that methodology aims for a 100 score.

Technical implementation

To implement the concept, an organization could create a collection of courses. That can be anything: video, page turners, scenario based courses, serious games,apps or even augmented reality. With TinCan, it is possible to design subject all this content as learning objects and include them in the reporting. In the report, in order to stick to the Khan concept, only the courses completed would be saved that have a score of 100. The organization can periodically set up classrooms where students work together to test their knowledge. This can be classroom or virtual, for example with scenario based learning.

I think the Khan concept is technically easy to implement within certain organizations, but it will be organizationally challenging to get it right. Probably the company of my knowledge wanted to apply the Khan Acadamy because of that other important reason: it’s free!

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