Idaho integrates Khan Academy videos with public school instruction

Published: Wednesday, April 3 2013 3:53 p.m. MDT

Khan Academy's online instructional videos are popular with students stumped by homework, and with teachers who let Khan do the lecturing so they can work beside students during class time. Now, Khan Academy materials will be integrated at 47 Idaho schools that serve more than 10,000 K-12 students.

The first statewide pilot of Khan Academy materials in schools is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. The money will be used for training, technology, technical assistance and assessment. More than 75 schools submitted applications for the funding. The selected schools were chosen by an independent review committee for their willingness to innovate and individualize instruction.

Khan Academy was created in 2006 by Salman Khan, an American educator (born in Bangladesh) who was interested in providing education for people everywhere. The Academy receives significant support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The thousands of educational videos found at www.khanacademy.org can be used by anyone as self-paced learning tools in a variety of subjects. For teachers, there are tools to track the progress of individual students. The system has attracted millions of devoted followers, and some detractors.

A Chronicle of Higher Education blog said that Khan Academy is good for learning about various subjects, but not at a level that makes a difference in the world.

“Learning at these levels requires more than watching videos (or lectures) and doing exercises,” blogger Robert Talbert wrote. “It takes hard work by both the learner and the instructor, difficult assignments that get students to work at these higher levels, open channels of communication that do not just go one way, and above all a relationship between the learner and instructor that engenders trust.”

The Albertson Foundation reports that Salman Khan visited Idaho, and spoke to 200 Idaho educators about how to use the Academy’s materials in schools — a mixture of online and direct instruction often called “blended learning.”

“In our latest visits to Idaho, we already started to hear success stories,” Khan said. “Teachers told us about students who were able to race ahead while other students took time to finally fill in unique ‘Swiss cheese holes’ or gaps in knowledge from previous years. But we’re also excited about the stories we haven’t heard yet — especially stories from rural and frontier regions where we haven’t been able to visit. There’s a tremendous amount of possibility in these regions where resources have historically been strained.”

EMAIL: cbaker@deseretnews.com

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