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Up close and personal in a Khan Academy classroom

If you’re about to see or have already seen TEACH, then you’re probably aware of Shelby, a teacher in Idaho who uses Khan Academy in her classroom. Watch the video below for a more in-depth look at her classroom, and check out Shelby’s personal reflection after 3 months of using Khan Academy with her students.

Curious about other classrooms?  Find out more in our detailed case studies.


TEACH Documentary

One of our dedicated pilot teachers, Shelby Harris, will be sharing her journey of implementing Khan Academy in her classroom with the rest of the nation in a documentary airing this Friday.  This documentary is the latest project of Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman), and follows the experiences of four exceptional public school teachers throughout a school year.  The 2 hour special is called TEACH, and it will air on CBS at 8pm ET/PT.

Shelby Harris is a 7th grade teacher in Idaho who started using Khan Academy with her students this past February.  Like many classrooms in America, Shelby’s students spanned the spectrum when it came to understanding math.  While some students were comfortable with linear equations, others were still struggling with basic multiplication.

Shelby learned how to use Khan Academy as a powerful tool to differentiate, and her classroom went through a palpable transformation in just 3 months.  Students who used to fear math gained enough confidence to start peer tutoring others.  Students who usually avoided math like the plague were suddenly in deep zones of concentration.  Shelby also went through a transformation of her own—she became comfortable with a new way of teaching that required using data to coach students and small groups on their personal goals.

But this didn’t happen overnight.  It took time for Shelby to become comfortable with a classroom that didn’t start with a lecture every day.  And as with learning any new tool, Shelby had to go through some frustrating moments.  Shelby and many other teachers around the world have had to experience this learning curve, but in the end, they report that the grit pays off.

Shelby has already started a new school year in which Khan Academy is an integral component of her classroom.  Her class is one of many that will be using Khan Academy in Idaho.  Thanks to the efforts of the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation, over 200 teachers in Idaho will be receiving technology and support to use Khan Academy with their students. 

The teachers who use Khan Academy in their classrooms are a constant inspiration for us.  We encourage you to watch Shelby’s journey on TEACH this Friday, and stay tuned for a firsthand account of her experience.

For more information about TEACH, click here:
For more information about the Khan Academy in Idaho project, click here: www.khanidaho.org
For more resources about using Khan Academy in the classroom, click here: www.khanacademy.org/coach-res


Our Design Guidelines for Teaching Programming Talkthroughs

Are you involved with teaching programming? Our Computer Science team posted their design guidelines for teaching programming using talkthroughs. We would love to hear your feedback and suggestions!

A “talkthrough” is how we deliver online programming lessons on Khan Academy. You can check out the current talkthroughs in the Khan Academy Programming tutorial. Most recently, last week I created Text Part One, Text Part Two, and our Intro Sneak Peek, and Pamela created Variable Expressions. The rest were created by Jessica Liu last summer.

As background, a talkthrough tries to mimic the experience of sitting down next to someone and sharing a computer. In essence, the teacher records audio while typing code and drawing in our live execution environment. During playback, the student sees the code changing, and they can pause at any point to experiment with the code. The student can also create a “spinoff” to make changes and save the program as their own.

Read more from our computer science team’s Sophia Westwood at our computer science blog.


Khan Academy in African medical schools

From Khan Academy’s Rishi Desai, MD:

My mom was born in Nairobi, Kenya, so being invited to go out to East Africa to speak about Khan Academy Medicine was a real treat.  I was there for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) meeting, and in attendance were 12 of the premier African medical schools.  I went to the meeting with a lot of classic assumptions: Internet access would be limited, convincing faculty and students that online education makes sense would be tough, enriching the in-class experience would be a challenge, and on and on…


Here’s the reality. Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College has been using video based education for over a year.  They have their medical students watch videos made by their professors before coming to class.  To make sure that they are actually watching the videos, there is a short 10 minute quiz at the beginning of class that each student takes alone.  This forces each student to come to class prepared to discuss the material.  After submitting the quiz, students take a second quiz with the same questions within small groups.  This encourages them to discuss their answers and debate any differences of opinion.  Finally, they spend the remainder of class time discussing a clinical scenario.  Parts of this strategy could be used across disciplines, parts may be improved, but ultimately it’s the willingness to experiment and to push the boundaries of teaching that impresses me most.  Students really enjoy the system, and test scores are on the rise when compared to previous years. 

I got back to California, and on the flight, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that we could play an important role in Africa.  Maybe Khan Academy could host questions/videos for African medical students, perhaps African medical schools could generate content for Khan Academy for US medical schools, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…  No single data point or school will tell the story of online education in Africa, but if we watch closely I think there are many lessons for all of us to learn.


Interview with Secretary Duncan

Sal will be interviewing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and we want you to take part! We hope you’ll join the conversation. Here’s how you get involved: