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# The Gates Notes: Sal on Khan Academy

Video transcript

In 2004, my cousin Nadia was
having trouble with math. She was in New Orleans,
I was in Boston. I decided to
virtually tutor her. It worked out, so I said, oh,
let me tutor some other family members. It became pretty
obvious pretty quick that it was hard to
scale that, and it was hard to schedule
it all the time. So essentially, I just started
putting videos on YouTube. In 2009, I started doing
Khan Academy full-time. In the fall of
2010, we got funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation, and from Google, and now we're a
real organization. Right now in a
traditional classroom, a teacher has to deliver
essentially a one-size fits all lecture, pretty
much guaranteeing that some of the students
are going to be lost or some are bored. Students have to do
problems in a vacuum. They come back. You kind of repeat that process. Then you get a snapshot exam. And then on that exam, whether
you get 70%, 90%, or 95%, you're moved onto
the next concept. And it's almost guaranteed to
leave gaps in your knowledge. At some point,
your foundation is going to be so weak that it
will essentially crumble. There's got to be a
better way to do this. Going through the high
school experience, when we would train for
math competitions, we had a completely different
way of teaching each other. Everyone was learning math
a lot better in this kind of extracurricular
setting where the peers were teaching each other. Everyone was learning
at their own pace. It was really interactive,
really social. People were starting to make the
connections across subject area because you had to have a
holistic understanding when you went to a competition. The ideal interaction is
one-on-one, you have a tutor, you have a student,
and the tutor can kind of adapt
to the student. And the reason why that doesn't
exist in the school system is that that's not economic. How do you reduce that? How do we give
them more resources so it's a lower
student-teacher ratio? In my mind, the
relevant metric is student to actual productive
time with the teacher ratio. We see the Khan
Academy as essentially the world's free virtual school. We have the videos,
literally covering everything from basic arithmetic all the
way through college-level math and science and economics. The lecturer frees
up the teacher, so that all of their
time is now spent on these focused interventions. We have the software platform. And we have a way for students
and teachers and parents to get data on what's happening. And for our students and
teachers and parents actually communicate with each other,
and maybe actually even teach each other. So we actually see it as a real,
virtual school for the world.