Friday, June 10, 2011

Khan Academy Follow-up

Reading my earlier post on Khan Academy you might think I'm opposed to it, but just a few days later I found myself defending it when its brand new history section was getting some undeservedly zealous scrutiny from the paper-based media. I still believe in the core point that Khan is promoting, and, importantly, I think the lessons are informative.

My main concern is the real differences that exist in technology and cultures around the world. Khan Academy was famous in the US and adopted in some schools before Khan's TED talk-even before Spanish translations had even been started. You can either believe that no one had heard about it, or, that it was harder to accept. Look at how many teachers were afraid about being replaced by their OLPC laptops. What will they think?

My ideal would be taking our existing content server, Pathagar, beef it up with multimedia support, then send it out with a diverse library of local content, classic English kids books, and Khan Academy for subjects not covered by most laptop content, like basic math and biology

The frustrating thing is, we're so close to making this reality. Just grab the right hardware and software, a few interested people, and we could solve this in a week. The reason no one can make that type of commitment is that we're having trouble finding enough free and open content to make it useful to the school. Khan Academy could be what we needed to tip the balance and provide a full content library. The main problem then, as I described a couple of days ago, is localization. Who's going to step up and develop this, and what schools are going to be the guinea pigs? (ps if it's Peru, don't call them guinea pigs)

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