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The Khan Academy Opens Its Virtual Doors -- Carefully

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The Khan Academy "Knowledge Map," which suggests working exercises, will be made available to crowd-sourced videos chosen by the Khan Academy.

As of today, there are more than 2,700 videos on the Khan Academy site. All of them have been created by Salman Khan himself, with the exception of those produced by the SmartHistory team who Khan hired a few months ago.

Over the course of a few short years, Khan has accumulated a vast library of education videos that are now used in schools and homes across the country.

But no man is an island, as they say, and Khan is opening up his academy – at least in part – to the great Internet expanse.

In the very foreseeable future, teachers will be able to upload their own videos to the Khan Academy, but also be able to create their own “knowledge maps” or repositories of content for their classes, using videos – within or outside of the Khan Academy – and all of Khan's analytics, and reporting tools, in order to customize their own curricula.

Khan describes it this way:


“In the first iteration, let’s say you teach gender studies at U.C. Berkeley. You could put up your own videos, exercises, and everything you want for the class. Plus, you could leverage all the tools we have – a dashboard, analytics, reporting tools – and you could create your own island for your own class."

Eventually, the site will serve as a highly curated repository of educational videos – those considered valuable by Khan and his team.

“The deal will be, you can use our tools if we can put your stuff onto our noncommercial public domain,” Khan said. “We don’t know how it’ll turn out, but we suspect there will be some amazing things put up."

And rather than big buckets of random videos, Khan hopes the site will house, for example, “the definite course on technology,” which might be a combination of a few different people’s content.

“We have all these fancy tools and modules we’re building that are just supporting my videos. Why can’t it support someone who’s teaching a different language, or quantum physics, or gender studies,” he said. “We want to expose our tools so that everyone can use them to help kids learn at their own pace,” he said.

But the curation part of this effort is key. Though there will be a “Wild West part that someone can dig through if they’re in the mood,” he said the designated subjects will be heavily curated.

Khan will also hire a few new teachers and expand the topics of coverage to go beyond his specialties in the STEM field and into the arts and humanities. Stay tuned to hear who these personalities might be.

The most recent influx of cash came from the $5 million donation from the O'Sullivan Foundation. Khan has also received funding from other sources: Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix donated $3 million; Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, and his wife donated $1 million; Google last year donated $2 million; and Bill Gates has donated more than $5 million in total over the last few years, Khan said.

And now with this new crowd-sourcing project, the 3.5 million unique visitors every month is poised to explode.

Read more about Khan's plans to launch a hands-on project-based summer camp.

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