Yes We Khan!

When considering the integration of technology into our public school classrooms,  there’s   reluctance on the part of educators and administration, not the least of which are budgetary concerns–especially for schools with predominantly underserved populations. In these instances, digital enhancements, new media and educational technology is deemed a superfluous luxury instead of what it should be–a fundamental part of every classroom.

So how do we clear this hurdle? Funding our nations schools has always been a struggle, and new technologies are expensive. How can we possibly bridge the gap, and give schools a much-needed digital makeover?

A study from the Nielsen Company found that 82% of US households have computers, and of those, 92% have internet access — and this was back in 2008. With more and more households connected, the technology used at home is screaming to be let into public schools.

Maybe we can deliver a benevolent Trojan Horse, a gift fostered and created at home that school’s find so irresistible, they throw open their doors and let the technology inside. In my opinion this Trojan Horse has a name — the Khan Academy.

Right next door to me, in Los Altos, school districts are using the Khan Academy to supplement their classrooms. For those readers not familiar with the Khan Academy, I suggest you take a look. Started by Salman Khan, it is a website with a wealth of engaging educational videos on everything from math to science and social studies.

The videos are so well made, that fifth graders in Los Altos are solving inverse trigonometric functions. The homework/instruction relationship of the school is reversed, with children watching the instructional videos at home and then doing the problem sets at school, where the presence of a teacher to help students that are stuck on problems can be most beneficial. Teachers can also monitor their students’ performance on problem sets in real time, providing additional instruction and aid to those who are struggling.

Best of all — Khan Academy is free! So much for budgetary concerns.

So maybe when public schools start to realize that the integration of technology is not only helpful but affordable, we can witness a sea change in the way our students are educated.  Sometimes, revolutions are started in the places we least expect them–right in front of us.



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