Tuesday, December 30

Salman Khan Uses Microsoft Paint to Inspire Learning

Salman Khan (Sal) founded the Khan Academy with the hope of using technology to foster new learning models. The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere. They currently have 1600+ videos (growing fast!) on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, and finance which have been recorded by Salman Khan.


Sal knows his stuff (pretty well!), and has a great ability to simplify what he teaches using story telling with a laid-back approach (conversational style). As far as I know, his formula to create learning content is quite unique:
  1. Microsoft Paint is his blackboard (Who needs PowerPoint?), which he uses to draw and illustrate step-by-step what he is explaining.
  2. He records the narrated lessons using a screen recording software (Here are a few free ones!).
  3. When recorded (and edited), he uploads his recordings to YouTube (YouTube Channel).
  4. Then he links his recordings or lessons to The Khan Academy website, which indexes the hundreds of videos as he likes.
No real cost required (excluding his website), except his precious time. I suppose he figured out that instead of teaching a few people here and there (again and again), he could educate the world (doing it once!).

Alright, he is not going to get A+ for graphics, but I would give A+ for creativity, pedagogy, passion, knowledge sharing, and efficient development. How many educators have produced 1600+ videos (x10 = 16000 minutes/60 = 266.7 Hours), or more than 266 hours of e-learning content in a few years?

Yes, I also love the way he has chunked most of his videos into digestible 8-12 minute lessons, which are perfect for learning-on-the-fly.

It is inspiring to see Sal share his amazing knowledge to the world in such a creative and efficient way. I suppose he deserves an Oscar for knowledge sharing :)

Here in Malaysia and Singapore, parents spend millions (if not billions of) dollars on tuition for their kids to score great grades. What if we could inspire geniuses here who have a knack of simplifying content to do similar kind of initiatives. By doing so, we can level the field a bit more and enable perhaps some of those who couldn't afford tuition to have a chance to compete and do better. Well, you still need a computer device and Internet (unless the content is downloaded), but it would still be a great start.

In other words, we don't actually need to spend millions to produce quality e-learning content and learning experiences. With today's free web 2.0 technology, we could do it practically with no significant initial cost (except for our time).

For example, we could use Google Sites to develop our website, free screen-recording (casting) software to capture our lessons, and use YouTube to upload our content (or perhaps Google Video, if our videos are longer than 10 minutes). If we are developing PowerPoint presentations, we could use SlideShare (and link uploaded audio, which can be synchronized with the slides. Audio upload alternative: Internet Archive). Another PowerPoint (convert-to-Flash) upload alternative would be SlideBoom, which also captures the PowerPoint animations.

These are just a few possibilities of many we can use to share our knowledge and skills to the world. I suppose the biggest struggle today would be to find the time to do it (and the appropriate tool(s) to use) :(

On a positive note, Sal has found the time and his work is inspiring. He fits well with my new learning motto (and adventure):

Simplify Ideas, Inspire People! :)


Since this article was posted in 2008, Salman Khan has evolved his unique teaching approach to use the following learning tools:

"I use Camtasia Recorder ($200) + SmoothDraw3 (Free) + a Wacom Bamboo Tablet ($80) on a PC. I used to use ScreenVideoRecorder($20) and Microsoft Paint (Free)... (Source)"


Adward said...

It would be great to share our knowledge to the world. The free applications for learning do cost you nothing but there are still many aspects need some improvement.

ZaidLearn said...

True :)

Besides time, we need to figure out the appropriate tool for the type of content to be facilitated. Also, we need to learn and be comfortable with the tools we use. In addition, we need to worry about copyright, people's reactions, sensitivities and much more.

It is still tough, but with free web 2.0 learning tools, hosting and open educational resources we are not short of opportunities at least.

Warm Regards,


PDonaghy said...

Hi Zaid
Glad to see you are back in action. I think this is a fantastic site and I like the way Paint is used as a blackboard!
Wishing you a very Happy New Year :-)

Unknown said...

I stumbled across your blog a while back and loved what I read. I am a teacher and tutor looking for ways to continue to communicate.

Thank you for this amazing article - it has me buzzing with excitement.
Blessings of peace

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to

say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Anonymous said...

Is it the Bollywood actor Salman Khan we talking about here? Web Designer Web Hosting

fazza said...

i have to admit that i agree wif the others. I enjoy ur blog and i do found it very informative and interesting.

But Amrit, i am sure it's not salman khan the actor that he's talking about:)

I've check out one of the videos of the khan academy on youtube about graph, (something like that). It's interesting, but i have to say that the graphics are not so beautiful in the eyes. crooked line and unsymmetrical curves...that's the limitations.
however,this source could be an alternatives for learners to simplifies what they have learn in school. I am sure they will like it. Learning should be fun~

Vinod Kumar said...

You are saying true. I saw the channel of khan academy in youtube. I could only upload 85 videos in svtuition channel. But he is so great, he has now uploaded more than 1000 videos and all are high educational qualities.

He is Real Super hero of Internet.