Target: Sal Khan. Creator of the Khan Academy
Goal: Commend teacher for posting free online lectures that break down complicated concepts
Sal Khan’s goal is simple: to provide a “free world class education to anyone anywhere.” A nonprofit organization whose video lessons reach up to 6 million viewers a month, Khan Academy started as a way for 36-year-old Khan, then working as a hedge fund analyst in Boston, to help his 7th grade cousin in Louisiana with her algebra. Posting videos featuring his voice against a virtual blackboard, he recorded himself working through problems in real time, drawing viewers he never expected and eventually leading him to quit his job and start Khan Academy. Thanks in large part to one of Khan’s premiere pupils, Bill Gates, the 15 minute tutorials on everything from medicine to astronomy lead the way in making education more accessible and active on the part of the student.
Expanding into the classroom itself, pilot programs for Khan Academy in several California schools “flip” homework and schoolwork. Students can watch videos with new concepts at home and practice the concepts at school, receiving one-on-one interaction with a teacher if they get stuck. Using the site’s dashboard, teachers can monitor students’ progress, seeing who is struggling and with which concepts. With $30 million in funding from the Gates Foundation and Google, Khan was able to hire top engineers and designers at competitive salaries. The team seeks to create software to revolutionize the way math is taught in American schools.
But despite the high profile he’s garnered, Sal Khan remains grounded. When a 60 Minutes interviewer asked him about Bill Gates’ calling Khan the “Teacher of the World,” Khan says he tries not to think about it; to dwell on the fame would be paralyzing. To this day, in preparation for lessons, he reads avidly on the Internet and stocks up on high school textbooks to revisit certain concepts. He envisions Khan Academy transforming not just elementary schools but high schools and even college, guaranteeing that no matter how successful Khan Academy becomes, the education he provides will never come at a price.
Dear Mr. Khan,
I want to commend you on your original organization that helps education more accessible and equitable. Committing to the mission of providing a “free, world-class education to anyone anywhere,” your service is truly transforming the way we learn and enabling life-long learning for all.
With pilot programs now set up in elementary schools, Khan Academy is improving the efficiency and quality of learning while helping teachers and students achieve their full potential. Your online tutorials empower learners of all ages to take charge of their own education, leaving nothing to chance. Thank you for your innovative leadership, truly an inspiration in a time when many are questioning the value of education and access to education itself is a real concern. I wish you the best of luck in all Khan Academy’s new developments so that more may benefit from your program, grow in learning, and lift themselves to new heights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Steve Gurvetson via Flickr