In 2004 Sal Khan was making a prosperous living as a hedge fund analyst at Connective Capital in NYC. He began tutoring his younger cousin, who lived in New Orleans in mathematics using Yahoo! Doodle notepad. His cousin moved to NYC and Khan was pleased to be able to tutor her in person. The problem was that she “liked recorded Cousin Sal more than real life Cousin Sal”. After he picked his ego off the floor, he asked why. His cousin said that with “recorded Cousin Sal” she could review the session as many times as she wanted. He began to think that he might be on to something in the area of educational tutoring.
Khan quit his job in 2009 to work full time at the Khan Academy. The website has over 4000 (and growing) short lectures that are typically focused on one subject and last no longer than 15 minutes. Although many subjects are covered, there is a robust section addressing topics in mathematics, biology, healthcare and other subjects that could enhance an EMS student’s education. According to their website, the Khan Academy has broadcast approximately 240 million web based mini lectures.
Students can access the lectures at no cost. It is funded by donations in particular by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. All of the videos are available at their website. Khan has added features such as the ability to track students as well as to provide practice homework for reinforcement. Access can be through either a direct log in, Google or Facebook. His delivery technique is conversational and mimics a person tutoring either on a blackboard or piece of paper.
His offering for the EMS student range from a 12 minute presentation on Cardiac Action Potential to an introduction to cardiac anatomy called Meet the Heart. He includes a host of medical conditions that would be very familiar for the EMS student to know.
One possible use for the Khan Academy would be in flipping your classroom. Briefly explained, a flipped classroom makes the student responsible for watching the lectures outside of class. When the students return, the homework, in the format of practical skills, case studies etc. are completed. Many educators contend that this improves the cognitive retention of their students. More on flipped classroom in an upcoming blog.
Possible uses in your classroom:
1. Use the Khan Academy during class. Your students will have the other class members as well as you the instructor, as resources to ask for help. This fosters a mentality of expecting the students to take personal responsibility for their own success in learning
2. Many times we focus primarily on the students who are struggling and neglect those who could use a greater challenge. Assigning extra assignments to those students who have grasped the required material places a challenge in front of them, keeping them engaged and less likely to be bored.
3. Use it as a digital textbook. Khan Academy videos contain background information, problems as well as examples clearly explained with simple but effective illustrations. Assigning related videos as supplemental reading creates an auxiliary textbook with no charge to the student or school.
4. Make up work for when the school has to be closed. In many parts of the country, the winter months can wreak havoc on class schedules. Educators can create and post a list of videos that can be used in case of school closings to help minimize the class from falling behind.
The Khan Academy is a wonderful idea. My personal dream is to develop a similar repository for the EMS student. Until then, explore this site. You will find it is well worth your time.