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W2: Mark’s Great Second Blog Post

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Khan Academy

http://www.khanacademy.org/

Khan Academy is a website designed to provide multimedia instruction on a myriad of topics, ranging from math to computer science to economics.  The videos are very simply explained, and allows the viewer to rewind and re-watch parts of the video they may not have understood the first time.  The voice of the teacher is very easy to hear and understandable, and the videos are quality-made.  Because the topics are narrow in nature, the videos remain short, and thus not as daunting as listening to a lecture in a traditional classroom.  Participation in all aspects of the site is free.

In addition to providing these online multimedia lectures, the Khan Academy also provides exercises attached to each lesson, in an attempt to expound on the topic covered, and force the student to learn the material.  There is an option for students to login to the site and track their progress, assist other students and gain reputation points as students of the Khan Academy.  It’s this aspect that allows the students to interact with their peers, and strips away time zones or any other cultural or socio-economic barrier; the interaction is strictly student-to-student.

Some of the topics covered can be very high-level, but there are also many topics that provide remedial material, such as simple mathematics and sciences.  This website is a tremendous resource not only for students wishing to “brush-up” on academic topics they may not have seen in a while, but also allows current students the opportunity to get free tutoring, despite not in the traditional, one-on-one manner.

I think Khan Academy is a tremendous resource that provides instruction in a very simple, easy-to-understand way that is easy for those already familiar with interacting on the Internet to access.  There is no pressure put on any student to perform, and the site encourages students to move at their own pace.  While I personally would never advocate any technology take the place of classroom instruction (online or traditional), these videos certainly provide a comprehensive support system to anyone wishing to take initiative to learn.  Time will tell as to whether or not technologies such as this will be accepted by the academic community as tools or simply a collection unworthy of a place in the lineage of instruction.