Colleges of the Future

Colleges of the Future: Visions of Sal Khan

You should know the name: Sal Khan. He is the creator of Khan Academy. If you haven’t checked out his website, do it very soon: www.khanacademy.org .

Now he had written an interesting, thought-provoking book, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. It is well worth reading and can be read in a single evening.

He begins with the  story of the cover of Sal Khan's booktutoring a cousin in math using the Internet, eventually  putting his short videos on YouTube. Now his videos are  used by MILLIONS of students, teachers and parents around the world.

He goes on to suggest ideas for helping students get a better education, most based on his own experience. I strongly disagree with some of his ideas, but others have real possibilities.

As a student at MIT, he apparently found the lectures a waste of time, and skipped  all lectures, using the time to study on his own, and was thus able to take twice as many classes. My experience at many different colleges is the opposite. Most lectures were excellent. Some were so inspiring that I still remember lectures from nearly 50 years ago. Some of those long ago lectures changed my ways of thinking and even changed my life.

If you are tempted to follow his example,  be sure that you aren’t in danger of failing a class if you skip lectures. You should also realize that many students are auditory learners and remember material from lectures more easily than from textbooks.

The most important idea in Khan’s book, an idea that students and educators everywhere need to understand, is that students should not let teachers dictate what and how students should learn. Students must take charge of their own learning. They must challenge themselves to explore ideas, relate ideas to their own experience, and find ways to remember what they are learning. This insight is both radical and empowering.

Educators haven’t made much progress finding a way to transform university education, making it meaningful and available to all students. Perhaps students could join Khan by letting your imagination go and describing your vision of the university of the future.

Please share your best ideas here.

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