Let’s say you got a perfect score in math on the SAT and you go on to the vaunted MIT where you complete Bachelor’s degrees in Math, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. But you’re not satisfied with that, so you go on to complete Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, also at MIT. Conventional wisdom might have you working in one of those famed Silicon Valley companies, developing tablet computers or chips for these. And if conventional wisdom is not so wise, you might instead go to the Harvard Business School where you would complete the M.B.A. Then what? If you’re Sal Khan, you would become the world most famous math tutor – for free. Well, that’s after you work for a hedge fund.
Born mostly in a serendipitous way, the Khan Academy, viewed around 70,000 times daily, is a free online school with near 2,000 video lessons for K-12 and college freshman level, science and math classes. To date Sal Khan is its only teacher. But, people from New York to Timbuktu can sign on to learn everything from basic arithmetic to AP Calculus to Organic Chemistry, and even a few lessons on the Economics of a Cupcake Factory. The beauty of video lessons is the ability to replay them in cases where the material is too difficult to understand in the first pass. So in effect the video tutor could, arguably, be better than the live person – but that’s up for argument. In any case, several media companies plus Bill Gates and his son Rory have fallen in love with the Khan Academy and its mission. It provides free “world-class” educational access to anyone with Wi-Fi.
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