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Salman Khan talk at TED 2011 (Transcript)

Title: Let’s Use Video to Reinvent Education – Transcript

Speaker: Salman Khan

In 2004, Salman Khan, a hedge fund analyst, began posting math tutorials on YouTube. Six years later, he has posted more than 2,000 tutorials, which are viewed nearly 100,000 times around the world each day… 

Event: TED 2011




Salman Khan – Founder, The Khan Academy

The Khan Academy is most known for its collection of videos, so before I go any further, let me show you a little bit of a montage.

(Video) Salman Khan: So the hypotenuse is now going to be five. This animal’s fossils are only found in this area of South America — a nice clean band here — and this part of Africa. We can integrate over the surface, and the notation usually is a capital sigma. National Assembly: They create the Committee of Public Safety, which sounds like a very nice committee. Notice, this is an aldehyde, and it’s an alcohol. Start differentiating into effector and memory cells. A galaxy. Hey, there’s another galaxy. Oh look, there’s another galaxy. And for dollars, is their 30 million, plus the 20 million dollars from the American manufacturer. If this does not blow your mind, then you have no emotion.

We now have on the order of 2,200 videos covering everything from basic arithmetic all the way to vector calculus and some of the stuff you saw there. We have a million students a month using the site, watching on the order of 100 to 200,000 videos a day. But what we’re going to talk about in this is how we’re going to the next level.

But before I do that, I want to talk a little bit about really just how I got started. And some of you all might know, about five years ago I was an analyst at a hedge fund, and I was in Boston, and I was tutoring my cousins in New Orleans, remotely. And I started putting the first YouTube videos up really just as a kind of nice-to-have, just a supplement for my cousins — something that might give them a refresher or something.

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And as soon as I put those first YouTube videos up, something interesting happened — actually a bunch of interesting things happened. The first was the feedback from my cousins. They told me that they preferred me on YouTube than in person. And once you get over the backhanded nature of that, there was actually something very profound there. They were saying that they preferred the automated version of their cousin to their cousin.

At first, it’s very unintuitive, but when you actually think about it from their point of view, it makes a ton of sense. You have this situation where now they can pause and repeat their cousin, without feeling like they’re wasting my time. If they have to review something that they should have learned a couple of weeks ago, or maybe a couple of years ago, they don’t have to be embarrassed and ask their cousin. They can just watch those videos. If they’re bored, they can go ahead. They can watch it at their own time, at their own pace. And probably the least appreciated aspect of this is the notion that the very first time, the very first time that you’re trying to get your brain around a new concept, the very last thing you need is another human being saying, “Do you understand this?” And that’s what was happening with the interaction with my cousins before, and now they can just do it in the intimacy of their own room.

The other thing that happened is — I put them on YouTube just — I saw no reason to make it private, so I let other people watch it, and then people started stumbling on it, and I started getting some comments and some letters and all sorts of feedback from random people from around the world. And these are just a few. This is actually from one of the original calculus videos. And someone wrote just on YouTube — it was a YouTube comment: “First time I smiled doing a derivative.”

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And let’s pause here. This person did a derivative and then they smiled. And then in a response to that same comment — this is on the thread. You can go on YouTube and look at these comments — someone else wrote: “Same thing here. I actually got a natural high and a good mood for the entire day. Since I remember seeing all of this matrix text in class, and here I’m all like, ‘I know kung fu.'”

And we get a lot of feedback all along those lines. This clearly was helping people. But then, as the viewership kept growing and kept growing, I started getting letters from people, and it was starting to become clear that it was actually more than just a nice-to-have. This is just an excerpt from one of those letters. “My 12 year-old son has autism and has had a terrible time with math. We have tried everything, viewed everything, bought everything. We stumbled on your video on decimals and it got through. Then we went on to the dreaded fractions. Again, he got it. We could not believe it. He is so excited.” And so you can imagine, here I was an analyst at a hedge fund. It was very strange for me to do something of social value.

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