Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Will Khan Academy help make higher education more affordable?

Dramatic changes are needed to reign in the escalating costs of a college education.  Our current situation is simply unsustainable, with tuition increasing nearly four times the rate of inflation over the last 25 years. In this Forbes video, Khan Academy founder Salman Khan expresses confidence that his efforts are rapidly changing the learning part of a college education, and will affect the credentialing part within a relatively short time frame.  While it's impossible to know exactly how higher education will change in the next 20 years, Khan's vision seems quite probable to me, with the potential to offer desperately needed financial relief for families in the coming years.

Khan speaks about hands-on learning and the importance of teachers, as well as the future of universities:

About two minutes into this short video, Khan says the following:
To the point about replacing universities, I don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon.  But I think it’s an interesting idea and to think about that you have to realize that a university is about two things - it’s a credential and it’s learning.  I think Khan Academy is going to be able to really change how the learning part is done in a pretty significant way.  The credentialing part, getting your degree from Stanford or Harvard, that’ll probably be there for a little while.  I think if you fast forward ten years from now I mean it’s not going g to happen overnight   I mean this is social change happening. 10 years, 20 years, I think an employer would rather see your log from a site like Khan Academy where it doesn’t just get a 3.2 GPA in psychology it gets what you did , when you did it, how well you did it, how well were you able to help your peers, how consistently did you work,  wow, this guy worked 3 hours every day for 20 years on this stuff, this is a persistent kind of guy that I want working for me and we’ll be able to give people that type of analytics.  I think that can be a more powerful transcript than just a high level degree right now.


  1. Khan videos are nice little supplements for kids struggling to understand math, but little else

  2. I think they're much more than "nice little supplements", but the debate is certainly building.