Khan Academy is the Killer Application of Computer-Based Training
Do you know that historically it has taken 300 hours to develop one hour of computer based training content? Some of the best in the industry have brought this down to 30-60 hours. And with all this effort the “killer application” in computer based training never emerged.
But that was before Sal Khan recorded a few dozen YouTube videos on high school math for his cousins and his efforts grew into the single most successful implementation of computer-based training on the planet. Better than what MIT did 10 years ago. Better than what Stanford did 5 years ago. Truly a disruptive event caused by the perfect storm of technology used by the right catalyst. Khan has recorded 2,000 videos now, covering almost the complete K-12 curriculum.
If you know children who are struggling with school, send them to the Khan Academy web site. Why? Well, it’s where Bill Gates sends his kids. Google just gave Khan $2 million. Need any more convincing? Here’s my humble opinion on why it succeeds.
- It is fully searchable using the power of the YouTube search engine.
- The videos, all hosted on YouTube, can be rated.
- Search results can be sorted by rating, popularity, and date added.
- The videos can be commented upon. And some of the comments are more than just the “thanks dude” type.
- Sal Khan has accepted video responses, so in some cases you’ll find supplementary material.
- The videos are task based. In other words, watch the video on “division” and you’ll learn long division, not the theory of long division, the history of long division, or the first two steps in long division. You’ll learn the task in its entirety. And so sometimes the video is long, sometimes it is short.
- The instructor writes on a virtual chalkboard for the majority of the exercises instead of presenting picture-perfect (and sterile) equations in Arial type against a white background.
- It’s free.
In addition to these useful features,
- the videos were recorded without a script,
- they include mistakes that Khan corrects just as he would if the two of you were sitting at a kitchen table,
- and in the videos Khan does not hesitate to be informal and familiar with asides like “hold on, let me change my pen color here” or “that’s supposed to be a 5.”
In short, as you can hear him describe in this address at the 2010 GEL (Good Experience Live) conference, he has done all of the things that the traditional 300-hours-of-development-time-to-one-hour-of-delivery-time experts have been telling us to avoid for the past 30 years.
So get your kids there, pronto. Don’t listen to those of us who have spent our careers in the computer based training industry. We didn’t see this coming, and didn’t do anything to make it happen.