Salman Khan and His Influence on Higher Education as an Untrained Educator

Salman Khan started tutoring some of his cousins, who lived far from him, by making informative and instructional videos for them and then posting those videos on YouTube. As the view counts unexpectedly rose and the positive comments started pouring in, Khan got the idea to create a free online educational institution based off of videos, much like the ones he created for his cousins. He calls it the Khan Academy, and according to an article by Jeffrey R. Young with the The Chronicle of Higher Education, he has "nudged major universities to offer free self-guided courses," as well as "inspired many professors to change their teaching methods."

But how is Khan’s free institution making other schools rethink their approach to education? The most obvious answer to this is in the Khan Academy’s use of videos and technology. At the core of the Khan Academy is a "library of thousands of 10-minute educational videos, most of them created by Mr. Khan himself," according to The Chronicle. The videos are narrated by Khan and usually involve him writing down his thoughts and information on a digital whiteboard. There is also a "robot tutor" on the site that can quiz you on what you have learned. If you fail the quiz, the tutor will direct you to remedial videos, whereas if you pass, the tutor will direct you to more advanced videos.

The popularity and success of the Khan Academy has reached remarkable levels. According to the academy’s website, they have delivered more than 126 million lessons. In fact, scrolling through their extensive list of lessons will allow you to learn about art history, banking, algebra, organic chemistry, physics, healthcare, and much more. They even offer preparation courses for college and graduate school entrance exams, such as the SAT and GMAT. You can also browse through Khan’s interviews, and then work through brain teasers and logic puzzles. In addition, there are approximately 311 practice exercises, most of which focus on mathematics.

Khan now travels to colleges and universities, speaking and influencing professors to use class time to interact, answer questions, and help their students, rather than just giving lectures. Khan encourages the practice of recording video lectures and assigning them as homework. Khan claims to have changed the minds of many professors and the methods of many universities already, so even though he has no formal education training, Khan may still end up changing the traditional classroom in a significant way, according to The Chronicle.

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