Sal Khan: Reimagining Education



thank you thank you all very much started I think this is a compelling reason we why we need a much bigger auditorium for the University as we move forward thank you all very much for coming it's a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this Simon distinguished lecture it's a particular pleasure to welcome Sal Khan whose simple or seemingly simple approach has had a profound impact in the education of millions and millions of people at different stages including people like Bill Gates who after whom this building at least in part is partly named Sal untold is started this approach initially to teach mathematics to his lease at a small scale and then when the impact of the way it was being taught was realized it was transformed to a much larger audience we have I'm particularly delighted that we've had an opportunity to bring Sal here to talk to a large campus community as part of the Simon initiative he is here in Pittsburgh to sit to receive the Hines Awards tonight for which are given for extraordinary achievements in different spheres of life and of course he is receiving it for his major contributions to education through the Khan Academy let me say a little bit about the Simon lecture series of the Simon initiative as you know last November in honor of dr. Herbert Simon we launched the Simon initiative to think about three things at a time when technology is enabling all of us especially those in the education field to empower individuals but at the same time hundreds of millions of individuals to learn different topics in a throughout their lives it's very easy relatively easy to ask the question what kind of education can be delivered it's more difficult to ask the question what has been the impact of that education on those who are receiving that education through technology this is an area where dr. Herbert Simon had a profound impact not just on Carnegie Mellon but on the global intellectual community and this is why there was no doubt in anybody's mind on campus that we should name this initiative in honor of him this initiative has three components to it the first is to connect all parts of campus dozens and dozens of faculty hundreds of students researchers engaged in this for several decades hopefully in a seamless way so that we can coordinate our internal activities and enhance the impact of those activities which have been substantial for the last several decades even to a to a new level secondly to start a conversation at the national and international level because this is an area it's a relatively emerging area with many many different wonderful organizations approaching it from very different points of view that's the right thing to do but at least to facilitate a conversation and a collaboration among them including organizations such as the Association of American Universities and American Association of public and land-grant universities about the value of technology in delivering education both for on-campus and remote learning but at the same time focusing on the the outcomes from these learning that's the second part of it as part of this we launched something called the Global Learning Council the third part is that through decades of research at CMU we probably have if not the largest data bank or low outcomes for an institution one of the very largest data banks from decades of research every keystroke that every student has employed and that information anonymously has provides a rich fertile ground for research on learning outcomes through the enormous activities such as what Sarkar has done how can we collectively work together and take this to the next level this data bank our goal is to make it available openly to the world and invite them to add to this data point so that the global community benefits from this those are the objectives of this so received his undergraduate degree from MIT we were just talking and our times overlap even though we did not know each other at that time not as students he's a little younger than me by the way right after just by a few years and a little after that I'm surprised from what he just told me he crossed the river not only crossed that he had crossed the cracks to the other side to Harvard University received a master's degree from MBA from Harvard Business School and started working for a hedge fund and while being a successful hedge for an employee he realized that the impact of this educational work could probably be much more satisfying than what he was doing and that led to this enormous work that he has done over the last four years so it's a great honor to invite him and also to congratulate him on the Hines Awards I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the heights and diamonds and the Heinz Family Foundation for their enormous support philanthropic support in so many different domains especially in Pennsylvania and in Pittsburgh it's a great pleasure to have with us also today is Andrei Heinz who's in addition to his passion about education he's also been a leader in bringing his talents into environment sustainability and design with the right future planning in mind for the global community and he lives in many different continents and has as I've had the pleasure of meeting him at least once and having had the chance to talk to him on several occasions it's a great pressure to welcome him and also mrs. Teresa Hinze has been a great supporter and the Hines endowments and the Hines awards are created in honor of the late Senator Hines whose impact has been profound nationally regionally and internationally so with that introduction let me invite Sal Khan to come and give his Simon distinguished lecture so I always I always like to start these conversations really just pulling the audience yeah I'm just curious I it looks like there's a lot of students in the room how many of you all actively use Khan Academy in some way oh that's very good and uh how many of y'all had use it when you were in high school or okay okay and how many of you have no idea what khanacademy is usually there's a few very good excellent talk to you excellent so so as as was introduced Khan Academy has historically have been most known for this collection of videos that I started making for my cousin's really almost almost about eight years ago now well we'll see over the course of the presentation that it's in our minds it's much much more than than just the videos it's interactive content exercises data analytics tools for teachers things like that but to get everyone on the same page I will start with a montage of the videos all these interactions are just through the gravity this is an age right after Isaac Newton I'll totally makes it feel hot excellent question LeBron can you determine which lightbulb is being switched the things actually can interbreed although for these two in particular it seems like the mechanics would get if this does not blow your mind then you have no emotion not a feeling oilers identity would be appreciated at Carnegie Mellon but it's much more than just the videos we have an interactive computer science platform the whole point of us doing this was to really kind of highlight the the creative side of computer science students can work on stuff get feedback from other students create portfolios of their work we've actually used this for in elementary schools we've also used this in colleges we've had graduate students use it we've actually hired two people based on their portfolios that they've created on the computer science platform kind of the real meat of what we've been doing is is our interactive math experience where it's it's really about students coming to the site taking a pretest the system understanding where they are building a statistical model of what they know and don't know and trying to give them exercises with game mechanics to kind of meet them where they are and and and and let them learn at their own pace a little snapshot of where we are now we're used in almost every country three hundred thousand educators are using us in some way in their classroom we're serving about 10 million monthly unique users now and they've done nearly 2 billion exercises and and we'll talk a little bit more about about what those exercises are but before going into bed and before going into where we are in the future I will talk a little bit about how this all happened and as was introduced I think you'll have a kind of a sketch of the story but I'll go to a little bit more detail so you go you rewind back to 2004 I had I was a year out of Business School I was working as an analyst at a small hedge fund I just gotten married and I was born and raised in New Orleans had family from New Orleans visiting me in Boston and it was my aunt uncle and their three kids the oldest of which was my cousin Nadia 12 years old she had just finished sixth grade and it just came out of conversation that she was having trouble with mathematics and it came out it was you know unit conversion ounces to gallons etc and so I I told Nadia I was like look I I think you're fully capable of this if you're willing to how about when you go back to New Orleans we work on the phone every day and she agreed and so we started this was August of 2004 and the first month was kind of difficult she'd completely convinced herself that she's just not good at math but then slowly she kind of things started to click in she started to catch up then frankly about two months into it she became a little bit advanced and at that point I became what I call a a tiger cousin and I I called up her school and I I said you know I really think Nadia Rahman should retake that placement exam they said who are you all right I'm her cousin and somewhat surprising that they allowed her to and she went from a slow math track to an advanced math track and has been on a kind of a good trajectory ever since and so I was intrigued was this a one-off you know it was a fairly small intervention on my part and so I started working with her younger brothers and then a couple of things happened over the next two years the first is the firm I was working for and it was literally just myself my boss and his dog the you he was the chief economist we we joked when we actually have business cards the we moved out to my boss's wife became a professor at Stanford Law School so we moved out to Northern California the other thing that had happened was word got around in the family that free tutoring was going on so I found myself every every day after work working with ten fifteen cousin's family friends all over the country I was using yahoo instant messenger at the time had this little doodle functionality so that we could see each other's each other's crawls and to help scale up you know my background was was is in software and you know I think anyone who's ever kind of dabbled in software his always anything you know there's got it I don't know Carnegie Mellon's done a lot of work here anyone who's dabbling suffers this seems like the ideal tool for for somehow helping people learn things and so I started to dabble I started seeing my cousin's had gaps in needed practice and things so I started creating these little quiz generators in adding fractions negative numbers exponents very simple things giving them the steps and then so that I could keep track of what they're doing it put a little database behind it and and and you know I was kind of proud of this thing that was happening and all my friends knew about it and so in November of 2006 I was at a dinner party and I was you know at the end of the party most of people had gone home and I was showing my friends you know what I was working on and the software in particular and one of my friends is uli rums I should give him full credit for this he said well this is neat Sal but but how are you scaling your actual tutorials with your cousins and I said well you know it's I'm actually not it's really difficult now it's hard to do with even you know five cousins on the same call that I could I was do with Nadia two years ago and he said well you know I've got an idea why don't you make some lessons as videos and upload them onto YouTube for your cousin's and I I said no no that that that's that's a horrible idea YouTube is for cats playing piano it is not for serious mathematics but I I went home for that weekend got over the idea that it wasn't my idea and then I decided to I decided to give it a shot and you know those first those videos were on the things that I saw my cousin's kept asking me questions about it it seems like or they were afraid to ask questions about even more and so I started I mean like twenty or thirty of them and over the next month I just kept telling my cousin's hey this is there for your review let me know if you want me if you want me to make more videos and so after about a month I asked them well what do y'all think about it and they somewhat famously and back handedly told me that you know that they like the videos though they like me more on youtube than in person and and and you know I talked about that and I think it's important to kind of think about what they were saying and what they weren't saying they they weren't saying that they didn't appreciate me or that they didn't appreciate having these the access to me to ask questions to go deep or even to request videos but what they were saying when they when they said that is that the first time you're learning something or or even if it's if something you learn three four years ago but you're embarrassed that you forgot it now it's hard to ask your cousin even if you're if that person is trying not to be judgmental you're embarrassed you're in algebra but you forgot how to divide decimals or you're the first time you get exposed to the idea of trigonometric functions it's it's hard to keep pace with it with uh with the instructor sometimes and so now you can review it as many times as as you want whenever you wanted to so taking that as positive feedback I kept making more and more of these videos and I just kept working on the software but the videos trying to have a life of their own I obviously when you put it on YouTube anyone can watch it and it soon became clear that people who are not my cousin's were watching and and you know the comments started to come in and you know there's a lot of them that first were just being simple thank you and and even that was a pretty big deal I don't know how much time you on YouTube most of the comments are not thank you a little bit more edgy and and but but then but then the comments got got more intense and this is the reason I was able to pass algebra class this is the reason why I'm inspired to major in engineering this is the reason why after leaving the military that I I can re-engage and go back and get my college degree and I remember those early days this was probably about two or three years into making these videos probably 2007 I I got this one letter and I immediately brought my wife forms like this is incredible is just this this this mother wrote saying both of her sons have a learning disability that that these videos were the only thing that we're getting through to them and and because of that her entire family prayed for for me and my entire family and and you could imagine that that was that was pretty pretty intense stuff you know I was an analyst at a hedge fund I I wasn't used to people praying for me at least and that way it was a good hedge fund I joke about it it is and and so so I just kept doing more and more and more the the traffic kept growing and growing and growing by 2008 I set this up as a not-for-profit and even in 2008 I didn't fully think that this is what what I was going to do you know full time in the near future I thought it was gonna be you know maybe we could get some funding here and supported and get volunteers on it but by 2009 the the site it was about a hundred thousand people were using it every month this was all I was thinking about and so my wife and I we sat down we looked at our finances and you know we had some savings kind of enough for a down payment on a house in Silicon Valley but it felt that that there's something here what if I took the year off to try to fully invest it hopefully someone would appreciate the social return on investment that this thing could create and I think you know all entrepreneurial stories whether it's a not-for-profit or a for-profit they all kind of start with that saying you you have to be a little bit optimistic or a little bit delusional even and and so I I took the plunge and you know you all right you meet with a lot of folks you meet with a lot of foundations and you get a lot of very polite well this is really fascinating it's gonna be awesome but it's not quite what we do and that happened for several months and you know you go into early 2010 I started to get pretty nervous you know my son had been born our expenses were going off we were kind of digging into you know that that down payment on the house is no longer quite adequate for a down payment on the house and so I started getting really stressed about you know and have I ruined my my family's kind of financial future and I was getting kind of paypal donations you know five ten dollars here there if it was any of you thank you but but but then all of a sudden in May of 2010 a $10,000 donation comes in so I immediately see who it is her name is Ann Doerr I immediately and choose based in Palo Alto I email her back I said thank you so much for your incredibly generous donation this is the largest donation that Khan Academy has ever received if we were a physical school you would now have a building named after you which is quite an expensive I think that's and and and and and immediately rode back she's like oh well you know I'm a big fan I've used the site myself I've used it with my daughter and so and I'd love to have lunch to find out more more of what what you want to do and so it was the next week we met in downtown Palo Alto at an Indian buffet restaurant and Ann asks me so so what's your goal here and I told it I've had these little kind of little slide presentation III I told her look you know when you fill out the paperwork to be a not-for-profit the IRS asks you your mission and I filled out a free world-class education for anyone anywhere and so Ann said well that's that's ambitious how do you see yourself doing that and I said well you know it's it's a mission I don't think you know I'm just going to achieve it tomorrow and check it off and then move on to healthcare or something but it's but but but but but I think we can make make a lot of progress and I showed her kind of the software and I said you know the videos obviously we're getting a following but it's much more than just videos it's about creating an interactive platform it's about connecting students giving them feedback creating tools for teachers it's about leveraging all the data and all the analytics so that we can refine the tool and also personalize instruction better for students and so Ann said you know this is this is pretty interesting it looks like you're making a surprising amount of headway I only have one question how are you supporting yourself and then as proud of a way as possible I said I'm not and and and kind of nods and I guess processes that and then and then we part ways and then about there's literally about 15 minutes later I'm driving into my driveway in Mountain View and and I get a text message from Ann and it says you really need to be supporting yourself I've just wired you $100,000 so that was a good day and and then frankly it was it was the beginning of a crazier and crazier series of events a month later I was uh I was running this little summer camp for middle school students and the whole idea is that you know I'm this this virtual video-making guy whatever it might be but I've never imagined that that somehow the complete education what I always imagined that does is that liberates the classroom to do more interesting things than just a lecture and so I was running this little summer camp with a friend where it was all about you know having dialog and running simulations and doing games and working on projects and so I had a little simulation running where I had six seventh graders playing a game of Risk and then I had the other twenty seventh graders trading securities based on the outcome of the game before his good game and while that was happening I start I start getting actually a series of text messages for man which you could imagine I now take very seriously and they they read along they were actually hard to read because it was you know like it was unclear what order they came in and it said along the lines I'm at the Aspen ideas festival in the main pavilion bill gates on stage last five minutes talking about Kahn Academy so I didn't know what to make of this so I immediately boot the near seventh grader off of a computer I started looking for some evidence of this event that that that Ann is referring to and in about 30 minutes I found the footage it was literally a Walter Isaacson the head of the Aspen Institute asks Bill Gates what are you excited about and and bill I called him Bill now he just he just he just starts talking about yeah there's this side I started using with my kids that I also use myself but they have all this nice stuff about economics and finance and all of that and you can imagine while I was watching that all sorts of emotions started to go through my head obviously this was exciting this is like a it's surreal it's like it's a it's like a dream but then I actually started to get a little nervous those videos were for Nadia not big eights and and and then I I went you know and so you could imagine I went home that that afternoon and you know some people had heard independently some some actually some people had gone to school with her actually in the audience I told my wife and and and then it was you know it was well what's the next step what's the protocol here you know do I call him I'm assuming he's not listed and they they frankly left me in that limbo for for about two weeks two weeks later I all of a sudden I'm in my walk-in closet about to record a video and the cellphone rings I see it's a Seattle number so hello hi this is Larry Cohen on Bill Gates's chief of staff you might have heard that Bill's a fan yeah I heard that and we loved to fly up to Seattle in if you're free in the near future to find out more about what you're doing and possibly ways that we might help support you and and I was looking at my my calendar for the month completely blank I said yeah maybe next Wednesday I've got to cut my nails do some laundry meet Bill Gates and Ryan at the same time some folks from Google reached out and by meeting meeting wand was kind of similar to the meeting with an meeting too was they said you know what would you do with two million dollars and I said is this an open question because but when I I can't you know I obviously told them the same things that I told and I told the Gates Foundation and so by fall of 2010 we had our first kind of real initial support to become a real organization for it to be really more than just me operating out of a operating out of a walk-in closet and so what we started working on was essentially the software part of Khan Academy because that was always the the real meat of the dream where the and and so what do you see here is kind of a zoomed out version of what we call our knowledge map and I and I show this this isn't our primary interface anymore but it gives a good sense of how we at least think about kind of skill learning skills in mathematics so each circle here is a concept in mathematics the ones at the top those are the most basic you know single-digit addition and subtraction and as a student shows that they've become proficient and then mastery and then masters these concepts and moves them down this tree and now this tree goes all the way down to college-level calculus now it's not is it's not it's clearly not as broad as the videos alright now you'll have videos on art history and and and things that go much beyond this and eventually we do hope that this does cover as much as as the videos do and and but the idea here of kind of mastering a concept and then moving on a lot of levels is common sense it's it's the way that you would play a video game you do you try level one as much as you need and then you eventually beat the boss and then you go to level two it's the way that you you learn a martial art you you take you you learn the white belt skills you you practice them you take the white belt exam as many times as you need to and when you pass it then you become a yellow belt that's the way you would learn a musical instrument but what we always point out is this is not the way that a traditional academic model is structured a traditional academic model you group students together usually by age sometimes age and some perception of ability and then you move that cohort together at a set pace and what happens in the classroom is some of the classroom time it's a lecture then the students go home they do homework then the next day they might review a little bit of the homework then they get another lecture and that continues for about three or four weeks and then they have a test and let's say that this unit is on say entered introduction to exponents basic exponents so you had three weeks of this lecture homework lecture homework lecture homework and now you have your test and on that test let's say I get an 85 you get a 90 you get a 95 you get a 75 and even though that test identified gaps in students knowledge even the 95 percent student that somehow didn't get five percent of the material right even though the test identified those gaps and then moves on to the next concept which could be negative exponents or logarithms or fractional exponents something that builds on that foundation and to kind of see how strange that process is imagine if we did that in other areas of our life say home building so you bring the contractor in and and and and and you say well we've been told that we have three weeks to build the foundation do what you can so contractor does what they can maybe it rains maybe some of the supplies don't show up maybe some of the workers fell sick after three weeks you bring the inspector in the inspector looks around says okay the concrete's still not quite dry there that part's not quite up to code I'd give it an 85 percent it's so great that's a c-plus let's build the first floor the same process we've got two weeks do what you can two weeks later 75% all right nuts build a second floor third floor fourth floor and then all of a sudden when the whole thing collapses if our reaction to that is our reaction that we typically have in education and we might say oh we had a horrible contractor or we needed more inspection but the real problem and even maybe though that was part of it but the real problem was that you had a flawed process you are artificially constraining how long you had to work on something pretty much ensuring that you had a variable outcome and then when you take the trouble of identifying those gaps you just ignore them and then you build on top of that foundation and so what what we try to build for is a world where instead of holding fixed when and how long someone has to learn something and the variable being how well they learned at ABCD F do it the other way around what should be fixed is that every student should get to a very solid foundation they should really master the basic exponents and what's variable is how long and when they actually have to learn it this right over here is just a is this a screenshot of one of the dashboards that's being used in classrooms now as you saw a couple slides ago 300,000 educators are using us in their classrooms and to different degrees different levels of levels of intensity but I'd like to show this one because it highlights how you can leverage technology to create a when I say a more human experience a more interactive experience in the classroom where you could have a classroom like this where every row there is a student in the class every column there is one of those concepts in mathematics the depth of blue is the system's read on how well that student has mastered right now red is the system flagging then hey this this student seems to be struggling in some way and so the teacher can walk in and say okay it looks like looks like Matt's having trouble in solid geometry and the teacher could either do a very focused intervention with Matt on that while everyone else goes at their own pace or even better gets one of the other students it looks like this is kit right over a year get him to tutor Matt and then they both benefit one gets the benefit of learning to explain things and goes deeper the other one is obviously getting getting getting personalized tutoring and then there's also the obviously the use case where if the teacher feels comfortable that a lot of students have have mastered a concept it opens up class time to do a simulation a Socratic dialogue a project of some sort this is some data coming out of a school in in Oakland California it's a charter school it's an underserved neighborhood and you know I show this and you know I'll just preface it with saying I don't want to give anyone the impression that that Khan Academy somehow some type of a silver bullet you can kind of drop it into a classroom and the flowers will bloom and the butterflies will fly it's it's a tool and like any tool it's only going to be as effective as the context in which it is used and but what's neat about this classroom is that they've had a pretty incredible set of tool users and in particular the head teacher whose gentleman by the name of Peter McIntosh and they've seen dramatic this was a school that in 2000 and I think 2010 when Peter McIntosh first joined they were in the 20th percentile in the state of California amongst ninth grade algebra classes and then as you see over the course of the last few years they've worked their way up to the 99th percentile in the state of California in amongst ninth grade algebra classes and you know what's neat about what Peter tells us and we you know we're learning a ton about how kind of Quetta me can be used and what it should be by observing classrooms like this he says you know it's great it's you know that their math scores improved but he actually have used it as a as a mindset changing tool that a lot of these students historically came into the classroom already thinking that there were no good at math and also being very passive alright teacher what should I do next okay I don't get this they would only engage into a problem for five seconds before before giving up just sure that they would never be able to do it but as soon as they essentially turn things around where the students were in control it was meeting them where they were they were allowed to build their foundation even if it was an algebra class if you have trouble in decimals you're allowed to work on decimals so that you could build that foundation and not get frustrated you could peer tutor each other you realize that you're trying to reach your goals for yourself and the teacher is there to help you the tools are there you're your peers are there then it changes their mindset they take ownership over their own learning and what's powerful about that is that doesn't just improve your math test scores that improved their their scores across all the subjects they were doing and I think we could all appreciate that's probably the most important life skill the ability to self-direct understand what your goals are and then use resources at your disposal to to reach them now you know I've just been talking about schools out of the 10 million people using the site every month about 10 percent of them are in formal settings in schools and so we remind ourselves that is still the bulk are just random people maybe a minute like like many of y'all when you were in high school or even in college who are trying to tap into their potential and this next video is one we got a few months ago that we were you know it kind of exemplifies that so I actually dropped out of high school twice during my freshman year and when I eventually came back I was put in sort of little math and science classes because I was so behind then I discovered Khan Academy and I was able to skip two years worth of math just there using the site and I came into school I took the exam with students who had been enrolled in the class all year and I was actually able to get the highest or the second highest scores in the class so for me Khan Academy have really changed the trajectory of my entire life because without it I don't think I ever really have been inspired to to learn and to love math it's a love science I ended up graduating as a valedictorian and going on to Princeton where I'm a computer science major and I'm absolutely passionate about learning about computer is about math about science and without kind of CAD me I don't think that these things would really matter to me the way that they do to that so I just like to say a massive thank you to everyone at Khan Academy saw on the team please keep doing the good work that you're doing because you're really changing lives and what's what's been neat about that is when we found out that charlie is a computer science major and actually opted others to all of the computer science majors in the room I said well you know we have internships and so he applied and and actually every round everyone said strong hire strong hire out we actually I mean it's it's unusual to have someone get strong hires from everyone that interviews them and they're like who is this guy and it's like why are you surprised we helped educate it now but it is exciting he actually is going to come join us this summer so it's kind of come full circle that he's not going to be able to help make the tool that helped him get that much better for the next generation so so we're we're super super excited this is something that y'all might have heard about a couple weeks ago the College Board makers of the SAT announced that they're coming out with a new SAT in 2016 and what you know the part that we play is that as part of that they've kind of officially recognized now that look there's this perception that there's an equity when it comes to the standardized test especially like the SAT around people who can afford expensive test prep of you know Kaplan Krista review things like that and so what we're very excited about is we're partnering together the Koz board has never done anything like this before where they're going to share items with us share know-how with us and to create you know not just a free test prep tool but really the best test prep tool that happens to be free so not just videos but a real interactive meets the students where they are allows them to work at their own pace gives tools to coach his teachers parents whoever they might be so that hopefully we can we can start leveling the playing field just a little bit more so these are all you know one thing that a lot of y'all might have been thinking about is well everything I've talked about so far is the world that most of us live in in english-speaking world developed world what about the rest of the world and so all of these are our examples these are just pictures taken of other NGOs for the most part taking Khan Academy sometimes offline sometimes online and taking them to two fairly remote places and and all of these are pretty exciting stories but probably the most exciting one is the one on the top right I used to give talks like this maybe two years ago and say you know who knows maybe one day this will be used in Mongolia just kind of imagining the furthest place on the planet and and a few months later I get an email from Mongolia and and and it had a little link to a video and and the video was was made by a young woman named Zayed the girl at the top right there and it was kind of similar to Charlie's videos she talked about how she likes Khan Academy and it's helped her and she enjoys math now and and I thought this is neat but but I said well she must you know I just assume she must be middle class upper middle class she spoke English quite well she had access to a computer and the internet but then I read the text of the email more closely and it turned out that there were a group of engineers at Cisco Systems that were using their vacation time to go to Asia and set up computer labs with broadband in orphanages and so what you see in the top right there those are actually a Mongolian girls in an orphanage using Khan Academy and Ziya was one of those orphans and and that by itself already for kind of felt like a like a science fiction book but but what's been even neater since then is that Ziya has kind of like the Charlie's story Ziya has now she's now I think eighteen and and so she's now contributing to Khan Academy translating videos creating content and she's one of our top creators of content now in the mongolian language we've also been it's not just about videos the whole platform we've been internationalizing we've launched a completely spanish khan academy this past fall we launched Brazilian Portuguese a few months ago Turkish and French are coming soon our goal is to have all of the world's major languages and obviously the order we're doing it is impact and also where we've been able to find really good partners who could really drive things on the ground in those geographies and to get a sense of what at least the video content looks like and I want to have stress this is much more than just the video content but they get a sense of what the video content looks like in other languages I'll show this next montage those the beat continues coming okay see she sang sure I'm a potted block of the period equal to the constant connectivity part I mean not even has wasn't she on the homonymous after us the unit is ignoring the simple things watch that when I get lazy so yeah these are all more pictures of just you know Khan Academy being used in all sorts of parts of the world and and you know I I tell everyone involved in Khan Academy it's much much more than me now we have you know 60 full-time employees we have volunteers we have obviously you know since since the Gates Foundation in Google we obviously have many many other supporters that have allowed us to scale and and we're always looking for more supporters as a head of a not-for-profit I have to say that so that so we can reach the potential and what I always say is you know the potential here is you know people you hear the term once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a lot I actually think that that under cells where we are in history I it's actually much closer to once in a millennium opportunity where you have this this thing called education this thing that has always been the key determinant between the haves and have-nots and but it's always been scarce and it's always been expensive and what I think is going to happen it's not going to happen overnight but I think if we kind of collapse you know collectively work on it over the next 10 20 30 years it is going to get to the point where access to high-quality tools at minimum and content and then things that are getting closer and closer to world-class education are going to become more and more commonplace more and more ubiquitous and more and more of a just of an expectation and and what I like to you know think a lot about is if if you were to go back 400 years to Western Europe and even then Western Europe was one of the most educated parts of the planet you had about a 15 20 % literacy rate for men and about a 10% literacy rate for women and I suspect that if you ask say a member of the clergy who could read back then what percentage of people do you think are even capable of of reading they might have said well if you have a really good education system maybe 40 or 50 percent are even capable of reading and we now know that's wildly pessimistic the answer is pretty close to a hundred percent and so if we fast forward to today I like to ask the same question what what similar blinders do we have on today if you ask if we ask ourselves what percentage of people are capable of understanding quantum physics you might say maybe 1% maybe 5% maybe maybe 20% if you have a really good education system what percent of the people are capable of contributing to genetics research or or medicine you might say oh maybe 10 20 percent if you have a really good education system but what if over the next 10 20 30 50 years that gets closer to a hundred percent I think if we do that and if we if we get closer to making an education just just a fundamental human right I think it'll be a very exciting time to live thank you so we're going to take questions from the audience let me point out that we're looking for questions not I am available for an internship and if you would please line up at the microphones on either side we'll begin and and while we're waiting Sal I have to say that what some of the most moving parts of your talk had to do with human potential and how we get out of our preconceived notions about potential through scaling up the kind of individualized attention that you were first able to give to your knees so looking at the relationship between those two and thinking about scale I'm wondering what kind of data you collect on your work and I mean standardized tests maybe and whether that gets used to iterate the scaling up you know so as you can imagine you know we as a website we can we're collecting everything on a student and you know we're very careful about privacy and that's not sure another reason why you know I decided to be a not-for-profit so there wouldn't be temptations to go in one direction or another but yeah I mean the neat thing is we we can collect all of this really interesting data and so that allows us to you know actually they're probably going to be some papers published by some of our in-house research scientist that have been working with some researchers at universities on some learning gain research that they've been doing on there's been some research on growth mindsets based on the work of Carol Dweck where we were doing we were able to do it on a scale that was a little unprecedented where you know we have five million exercises done every day and and so yeah so what we're absolutely using it to trying to understand learning better to personalize it for students better and to also kind of measure the quality of the of the experience yeah that's very exciting and I think president Suresh told you about the data shop the more than a million instances of learning that we've collected and we really do find that that helps us likewise build learning software that that helps oh yeah no absolutely and I just come and like this cosmic partnership that gets even more excited because it's like a it's a well defined end point that students are trying to reach in yeah so yeah that's great so we're going to start asking for questions were lucky enough to have Andre Hinds with us here today and he's going to give the closing remarks so we'll take questions and then we'll turn it over to Andre hi thanks so much for sharing with us today congratulations um I am curious what you are doing what your platform is doing for people with disabilities specifically I'm thinking about how you're making your website accessible to people with low vision and with who are deaf yeah so so we've started doing things there and we haven't done everything that we can do almost all of our videos are subtitled and so that's wonder on the low vision side of things we've gotten some feedback about ways that we could make it better we haven't you know even when it comes to the video production some people are getting feedback that it is actually getting it's already close to being useful for a lot of people who are vision impaired but you know things like it's not helpful if I'm saying hey up here you know I should I should reference kind of what I'm doing or something like that so I'd say we're doing it we've started doing a little bit but we have a lot more to do so you should a lot of interesting stuff going on and I'm citing the rest of the world right so what's your data that you have on how this is affecting minority education is that's a big problem in the United States and there might already gap yeah I mean you know it's the way we've been thinking about it right now is we we've been matil I would say we're still at the understanding phase of how can Khan Academy even be used and what are the different use cases you know based on the the grade level the demographics of the students where they are skill level wise you know Oakland that Oakland unity example was you know it's it's a it's a underserved community and that saw some really interesting results now it's not like every classroom that has been using Khan Academy sees results like that our goal is to try to identify the really exemplars that are moving the dial in that way and then trying to share those best practices and some of those best practices are how they use Khan Academy and some of them have nothing to do with Khan Academy where there's some intervention that the teachers do on a daily basis but we also think about what can we somehow bring that into the the tool some how can we maybe a video of a I don't you know is there something that we could do to approximate that so you know there's Oakland unity Kip has been seeing you know once again not in all of their classrooms but in some of the classrooms that have been kind of really invested in it we've been seeing some very very powerful results but it's it's still early it for us it's let's look at the people using it let's see where there's you know just unusual success and let's try to document it and spread those practices that's great you mentioned that part of Khan Academy was freeing up class time in schools how do you think that extra class time should be used best yeah no I you know I think you know when human beings are in a room the best thing for them to do is to kind of interact with each other you know I think there's there are some times where a shared experience is nice whereas you know if you're getting a talk about something or you're watching a movie it's nice to be in the movie hall because it's a shared experience but if you're if you're if you're trying to get your heads around a nuanced problem a fairly dense thing something that's based on kind of your foundations going into that you know having a lecture for everyone where everyone is lost or bored at different stages of it isn't the most productive use and so yeah I would love to see a world where it yeah it is all about when people get together it's either about dialogue or it's about working on projects or it's about doing simulations and you know it's not like this is there's no precedent for this this is what they've been doing the humanities for a long time you know go read the book and when we come we're gonna have a Socratic dialogue about it it happens in business schools with with the the case method where it's all about students talking to each other in STEM fields it's it still tends to be more of the large lecture hall format with with with folks taking notes and then you take an exam but I think stem is probably the place where it's most important where where people are should be doing things they should be creating things and you know if I were to stand my soapbox I'll say the the next level if more than just what happens in the classroom what should happen in that STEM education is much more of the creating and the doing you know I always it always gets me when someone says oh I'm not into math I'm an int engineering I'm creative and I'm like what is engineering if not creating something novel that has never existed before and I think we sometimes lose really good talent because we assess early on you know it was happening to Nadia in seventh grade we assess people's ability to contribute in mathematics I inserted based on you know their ability to convert units when they're in seventh grade and you know to me that's analogous to judging the potential of an artist based on their ability to mix paint when they're in seventh grade or judging the potential of a dancer based on their flexibility when they're in seventh grade it's a tool those are useful but those actually don't define your creative potential so yeah I think I think engineering math science should be much more about kind of creating the portfolios getting your core skills at the same time and that your transcript should be like what have you what have you made thank you this question thanks for coming again um my question is about your partnership with Bank of America and what you have in store for the future in terms of just teaching general public life skills such as personal finance yeah you know the Bank of America thing was interesting you know back in the day obviously I was an analyst at a hedge fund I even you know this was early as 2007 you know I saw well there's two things that was happening a lot of the we started hiring some junior analysts and these are people summa laude from top universities and but they still were missing some of the kind of just well how do you understand the economy how do you understand businesses how do you kind of read into things and so I started making videos for them on just understanding financial statements and things like that at the same time this was like 2007 early 2008 as you all know I didn't buy a house yet and and and it was because I was a housing bear because I had every you know uncle telling me oh you gotta buy a house housing only goes up etc etc and then I would literally like break out nap because I was like look you know look at like income levels since 2000 they haven't changed look at demographics they haven't changed but financing has changed and look at this could you know securitization all of their eyes would glaze over and and so I started making videos on that and and so and then of course when the financial crisis hit you know even though the hedge fund we just parked all of our money in cash it's like we need I just kept reading the Federal Reserve Act over and over again to understand what was what was going on and and and so you can imagine that that kind of already started to have a big following even today one of the most popular videos is on is on cred default swaps on all of Khan Academy and even I mean in those early days actually actually in the mist it was November of 2008 I got an email I won't say from which bank but a gentleman wrote me thank you so much for the video on mortgage-backed securities I now know what I do for a living but yeah so it's an area that's close to my heart because it's important on so many levels it's it's it's it's you need it to function in you know the financial crisis is an example where all these policy decisions were based on accounting and most people didn't understand accounting so people weren't able to participate and judge whether the right decisions were being made or not even even a lot of our leaders and so when you know Bank of America reached out like a year and a half ago say hey we want to work on financial literacy and this and that we were suspicious you know obviously you were not-for-profit they're a big bank and you know we're like we're not going to commercialize our site we don't want to do this and you know they said this and it's since then they've been very genuine about this which which has been very impressive is that they genuinely feel that look no we we generally want to help people learn it's good for us if other people get more educated on things and we don't want it to be commercial because that will undermine people's confidence and what's being pretty and we don't want editorial control that's why we're talking to you and so yeah that's been a really good partnership where they've helped market us they've helped support us they've helped and you know and they do offer expertise if I'm gonna make a video on you know understanding mortgages I have access to some of their folks now I don't get only from them I mean the one thing I'm as you could tell I'm pretty I want to be independent and give things in its clear way as possible but yeah so far so good and but I do agree I think that is one of the you know if I were to re-architect K through 12 education in my book I talk about the current K through 12 is especially high school is dictated by this committee of 10 in like 1890 which was 10 university presidents that decided that you should learn physics and 12th grade and chemistry and 11th grade and calculus and all of those are great subjects but that was 120 years ago and I would argue that law should be included accounting should be included computer science should be included all three of those are I love calculus have maybe 300 videos on it but all of those are more useful today that then statistics should be included so so yeah it's it's a it's an area that's close to my heart so I can see why kids love learning from you because you're you're kind of compelling and I think that people would sit here probably for the next five hours happily but let's take one more question then turn the stage over to Andre I just want to thank you I volunteer as an SAT tutor for multiple years and being able to use Khan Academy to scale and really get them really help right now we not only have a massive student debt about trillion dollars but we also have new energies coming out like Udacity that are trying to I'd say eventually replicate a college education do you where do you see this going over the next five years do you think Khan Academy is going to you know you're gonna have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from Khan Academy soon or you know ya know that's a good last question the the the so on I mean on the SCT stuff we're gonna have much better tools for you in the next 18 months so that's very exciting but I'm glad you are already found it useful you know this this costing is a fascinating question and I write a lot about this there's a whole chapter about it in my book so what I'll first paint of what I think would be the ideal College of the future would be it's an environment that you go to where you get all the things that we love about college you get a camaraderie you have a community you have clubs you you have seminars where you can discuss kind of very intellectual things that could or could not be related to to the kind of practical world to the real world just to kind of stretch your thinking but but you then have a chance to spend most of your day actually going out there and doing things whether it's doing research or doing internships at a firm or starting a business or whatever working on a novel whatever it whatever it might be and so when you when you leave that experience whatever you want to call it you you do have some core skills and you do have these intellectual experiences and you do have all the friendships that you've created over over these over these years but you also have essentially four years of very tangible experiences and a portfolio to show and I think this is already a reality you know when we hired Khan Academy we are most impressed by someone's portfolio and it could even be unrelated to what they're doing in the job it could be the set of their photography that they've done and that just shows to us that they're capable of this kind of starting with nothing and creating something or apps they've written or books did whatever they've done so so I would say that's kind of the ideal school of the future University of the future in my mind and and you know there's examples that kind of go in that direction you know University of Waterloo in Canada excellent engineering school there their internship class model is kind of flipped relative to traditional American universities where their students spend two thirds of their time in internships and so what happens to those students is their tuition is lower they get a lot of an especially in computer science and engineering the internships are very high-paying and so most of these students are leaving with savings not debt and they and they're getting and they're the most sought-after students because they have all of this experience from all the top firms you know I think it's ironic in Silicon Valley right now if you go to Google Facebook Palantir you know all the firm's Khan Academy Apple the only interns there are from Waterloo because everyone else is in classrooms and so they've essentially got this monopoly on this like really great experience that no one else is really tapping into and so they're getting you know they and a lot of them get job offers as you know two three years experience tires because they have so much internship experience so I think you you you have I think that's starting to go in a very interesting direction in terms of the MOOCs and all of that I think they will you know I think there's a role for for that I think there's you know I think for many of us who've had the who are lucky enough to go to a school like Carnegie Mellon where you have this community this intellectual discourse you're able to work with amazing professors and researchers we say only how can you not have that but the reality is most most students don't get that most students go to a commuter college where it's a very transactional experience they're really trying to get a degree they've got bills to pay they sometimes have a family to support and so forth and oftentimes they still don't finish and so I think I think the MOOCs could start to play a powerful role there where if you're if you're if you really just you get your core skills so that you can signal to an employer that you're ready I think that that should be an option so I see the future where there's multiple paths and people can kind of pick it's not you must go to a traditional four-year residential college or else you're not going to be able to get a white-collar job thank you I think so

4 thoughts on “Sal Khan: Reimagining Education

  1. Khan Academy has been a great platform for all students regardless to the location, facilities and modes of accessibility they are in; has helped a lot pursuing the desired goal at one's own pace.

  2. Hi I work for a Youtube Network Company… I sent you a very important message that can make your channel grow… please check your inbox… thank you

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