Sal Khan is the voice and knowledge behind the Khan Academy – the Internet’s (and the worlds) largest digital classroom. He has graced the screen with Charlie Rose, the cover of Forbes Magazine, received a lengthy standing ovation after his TED Talk, is revered by Bill Gates and can even convince Elon Musk to drop by his office for a visit. But the thing with Sal that struck me right away was the balanced approach to his life as part super public poster guy ushering in the new era of education – comfortable with the stage, the actors and the mandate – and part learning geek that revels in the challenge of learning – and then teaching – a concept in as short a time as possible.
Education is going through a constant and incredible re-imagination. If the Internet and the digital media era was jarring for that industry, there is nothing that will prepare it for what is about to happen as devices and pervasive connectivity dominate the “classroom.” For the first time, whether you know it or not, those of us carrying a device are willing participants in lifelong learning on a mass scale. Granted, we are at the fringe of context-aware knowledge and the ecosystem is not one of grades or degrees at this point but services like Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and Wikipedia and Project NOAH and good old Google are giving us the ability to learn anything, anywhere – just in time mobile knowledge that will eventually reshape formal education.
Sal doesn’t have all the answers – not sure that anybody does at this point – but he does understand that there is a growing population of learners around the world that are relying on what his team at the Khan Academy are doing. They log in and learn everyday with some using it as their primary means of education and others as supplementation. Whatever the reason, the great combination of mobile and education is upon us and you get the sense that Sal is eagerly awaiting its arrival.
About Sal Khan
Salman Amin “Sal” Khan is a Bengali American educator, entrepreneur, and former hedge fund analyst. He is the founder of the Khan Academy, a free online education platform and nonprofit organization.