Khan academy is an online learning tool created by Salman Khan in the United States (www.khanacademy.org). While it provides educational content for a variety of subjects, its primary focus is mathematics. Put simply, when a learner “does” Khan Academy, they work their way through a series of exercise modules, beginning with the simplest problems in math, like 2 + 5, and progressing until the learners are working on algebra, trigonometry, and even calculus problems. The idea behind Khan Academy is that when a learner reaches a module covering material they find difficult or have not encountered before, they can watch a video that teaches them how to do it. In this way, they can effectively self-learn their way through the entire school curriculum.
A couple of months ago, I approached Liesel Bakker – the branch coordinator at Ikamva Youth, Makhaza – to see whether we might pilot Khan Academy with some of their learners. Ikamva Youth, as I rapidly discovered, is a “can-do” kind of place. Within weeks we had a computer lab installed, and today we are five weeks into the pilot.
In keeping with Khan Academy tradition, I have put together a short youtube video to keep our sponsors (and you!) up-to-date with what we are doing:
A special thanks to Liesel, Zukile, Thembi and Joy for providing the learners, the space, and the necessary support to make this happen; to David and Elaine Potter for your generous sponsorship and encouragement; to the US Embassy for contributing towards the lab upgrade; and last but not least, to the coaches – Unathi, Yanga, Mandise, and Bekho – for your continued commitment to, and enthusiasm for, the project.
And lest I leave out our most important participants, congratulations to our pioneering grade nines who have steadfastly stuck with the program and blown us away with their mathematical ability.
One pencil, one pad of paper, go! Khan Academy in action
Of Mice and Monitors – Installing the new lab