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Khan Academy founder speaks to NU on changing platform of education

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Khan Academy founder speaks to NU on changing platform of education

Khan Academy founder Sal Khan discusses the creation of his online educational organization during an event hosted by the Contemporary Thought Speaker Series. Khan Academy is now backed by people such as Bill Gates and companies such as Google.

Khan Academy founder Sal Khan discusses the creation of his online educational organization during an event hosted by the Contemporary Thought Speaker Series. Khan Academy is now backed by people such as Bill Gates and companies such as Google.

Lauren Duquette/Daily Senior Staffer

Khan Academy founder Sal Khan discusses the creation of his online educational organization during an event hosted by the Contemporary Thought Speaker Series. Khan Academy is now backed by people such as Bill Gates and companies such as Google.

Lauren Duquette/Daily Senior Staffer

Lauren Duquette/Daily Senior Staffer

Khan Academy founder Sal Khan discusses the creation of his online educational organization during an event hosted by the Contemporary Thought Speaker Series. Khan Academy is now backed by people such as Bill Gates and companies such as Google.

Dan Waldman, Reporter

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The mind behind the popular website Khan Academy visited Northwestern on Wednesday to share his journey of creating the educational company.

Salman Khan, the website’s founder, spoke at Fisk Hall and said the online non-profit he developed can provide free, universal teaching and change the education system.

“When you have mass public education, how do you do that (mastery-based learning) economically?” Khan told The Daily. “Khan Academy has shown that we are at this point now that technology can actually solve some of these problems.”

Khan said he got the idea to create Khan Academy after tutoring his 12-year-old cousin in math. He started to film lessons and put them on YouTube for the rest of his family to enjoy, and began uploading content on Khan Academy’s YouTube page in 2006.

Expecting to reach 20 million users by the end of this month, Khan said his next step is tying in SAT preparation. Khan Academy has partnered with College Board and Hyatt Hotels Corporation, hoping to create an initiative to prepare Chicago school students for college through technology, he said.

The Contemporary Thought Speaker Series invited Khan as the first speaker of the school year. CTSS co-chair and Weinberg sophomore Ben Zimmermann said the organization invited Khan to speak at the University about the changing educational platform.

“I think he’s been a very impactful person in the field of education, especially with our generation,” Zimmermann said. “Personally, I used a lot of his videos to get through math and sciences. I think he really embodies a new wave of educational technology, and he sort of brought that to become a global movement.”  

Khan said the next goal for Khan Academy is to expand to all major course subjects as well as create lifestyle lessons. He wants to make Khan Academy global and translate its lessons into more languages.

After his speech, Khan participated in a Q&A session with NU students. Students shared their personal experiences with Khan Academy and thanked Khan for helping them get through high school.

McCormick sophomore Rohil Bhargava said Khan’s lessons were the sole reason he passed physics in high school. When he found out that Khan was speaking at the University, he said he had to go.

“I used them for my first physics class, and the way he taught really resonated with the way I learn,” Bhargava said. “I kept using it through high school and he’s the reason I passed all of my hard sciences.”    

At the end of the talk, Khan said education is a universal right and everyone should have cheap, easy access to it.

“It’s starting to feel like the pieces are in place,” Khan said. “We can take this thing called education which has always been scarce and expensive and make it a little bit more like shelter or drinking water and just a fundamental human right.”

Email: danielwaldman2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @dan_waldman

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