October 6, 2012

HIGHER, AND LOWER, EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Salman Khan’s audacious mission to offer online education to anyone, anywhere for free.

When you hear Salman Khan’s story, it sounds like an Internet-age fairy tale, one that goes something like this. Once upon a time, a brainy MIT graduate working as a hedge-fund analyst started tutoring his cousin in math and science online. He decided to make YouTube videos of his tutorials. The videos racked up millions of views and reached audiences around the world, and appreciative students offered stirring testimonials. After three years, the hedge-fund analyst quit his day job to set up an educational nonprofit called The Khan Academy. The mission: provide a world-class education to anyone, anywhere for free.

Khan knows that his mission statement is a bit grandiose, but he believes the Khan Academy’s online teaching materials, including its archive of more than 3,000 videos, have the power to reach students in ways that classroom settings sometimes can’t. The Khan Academy combines video tutorials with exercises and problems tailored to an individual student’s performance level.

But does it work? Khan sat down recently with Slate’s Jacob Weisberg to talk about his new book and the results his nonprofit is producing.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Reader Kenneth Greenlee writes:

Khan is to K12+ as Craigslist is to MSM classifieds. Any questions?

One statement: if ever there was an arena which should have “enjoyed” price deflation due to productivity gains, it is is the education arena, especially the high school, college, and grad school subarenas. I suspect that the usual suspects will start screaming about Khan “taking” revenue away from traditional education much as traditional media screamed about craigslist. We may need some regulatory capture after all.

PS: Bonus statement: The other major arena which should be enjoying price deflation is government. After all, how much of it is really only list and database maintenance? I know, it’s best not to switch horses midstream, just keep using index cards and pencils.

Heh. Indeed.

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