Gain insights into how Khan Academy is using technology to transform learning globally. Watch a Khan Academy video to start empowering your own learning journey.
In this episode of the Unconfuse Me podcast, Bill Gates interviews Sal Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, about how he started the nonprofit educational organization. Khan began by filming himself teaching math concepts to his cousin who couldn’t attend his SAT tutoring sessions. He posted the videos to YouTube where they quickly gained popularity.
Khan discusses his philosophy of using short video lessons and interactive exercises to make learning fun and accessible for all students. The videos break complex subjects down into smaller, digestible chunks. Khan Academy also focuses on personalized learning by allowing students to work at their own pace and get instant feedback on practice problems.
Khan and Gates discuss the future of digital and adaptive learning and how technology can help address inequities in education. Khan shares his dream of a global library of educational content that is openly available to everyone for free. Overall, the conversation provides valuable insights into the origins and mission of Khan Academy from the founder himself and his vision for improving education through technology.
Education, nonprofit, technology, entrepreneurship, interviews, business, leadership, psychology, future, social issues
How will the development of AI technology transform learning? In this enlightening episode of the Unconfuse Me with Bill Gates podcast, host Bill Gates and Khan Academy founder Sal Khan discuss the evolving relationship between education and AI. Khan shares his journey from working in finance to creating his not-for-profit education platform. He and Gates talk about the importance of personalized education and why collaboration matters. Khan explains how his new AI-powered tutoring tool, Khanmigo, can facilitate classroom interactions and provide personalized support to students and teachers.
- Khan Academy was a forerunner in personalized e-learning.
- New AI-backed tools, such as Khan’s Khanmigo, can boost student engagement and provide real-time tutoring.
- AI can help facilitate in-classroom interactions and support teachers.
Khan Academy was a forerunner in personalized e-learning.
In 2004, Sal Khan was a hedge fund analyst when he offered to tutor his 12-year-old cousin in math. Under his remote tutelage, Khan saw his cousin transform from a poor math student to an excellent one. By 2009, his free tutoring videos were reaching 100,000 people. Khan founded Khan Academy to make sure learning content would be accessible to students whenever they needed it and to enable people to learn at their own pace.
“The students who are ready to race ahead…can do so.” (Sal Khan)
Khan Academy has transformed learning. For example, teachers can instruct a small group of students while the rest of the class works online independently, mastering the fundamentals of a given lesson. Teachers also can track each student’s progress in real time using Khan Academy’s instructor dashboard.
New AI-backed tools, such as Khanmigo, can boost students engagement and provide real-time tutoring.
Bill Gates tested an early version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool and found it underwhelming. He thought it would take years to develop technology with the ability to navigate such tasks as getting top marks on an AP Biology exam. But a mere three months later, ChatGPT had advanced considerably. OpenAI approached Khan to help train its generative AI tool to pass the AP Biology exam. Khan then considered how Khan Academy might use generative AI.
“Well, what if we could make it so you could talk to any historical character? What if you could make it so it gets into a debate with you? What if you could make it so it doesn’t write your paper, but it writes it with you? What if it could do lesson plans for teachers?’ It could be the end of static curricula.” (Sal Khan)
Khan formed a team to analyze the AI model’s weaknesses, including costs, “hallucinations” (when AI makes up information), safety concerns and potential biases. The team also brainstormed ways AI might improve education. One question was whether the tech might function as a tutor – boosting student learning and engagement by asking and answering tailored questions. The team imagined that AI could help craft curricula and monitor students’ progress. Their efforts resulted in the AI-based tutoring tool, Khanmigo.
Khanmigo can function as “a fairly good human tutor.” The tool can make lessons more meaningful by placing them in a context that a student cares about learning. For example, students could ask the tool why they need to learn a given concept. Khanmigo would explain how the concept connects to the students’ interests.
Khanmigo can pinpoint individual learning gaps in ways teachers who are dealing with 30 children per classroom cannot. For example, it can flag that a student struggling with algebra needs to review specific concepts from seventh-grade math, and then it can lead the student in that review.
AI can help facilitate in-classroom interactions and support teachers.
Social interaction benefits education. When you work with others, discussing concepts and teaching one another, you always learn more effectively than when you try to digest, understand and learn material on your own. The AI tech of the near future will help teachers give students more opportunities for nurturing interactions.
“I think every teacher on the planet would love to have one, two, three amazing teaching assistants in that classroom that say, ‘Hey, let’s facilitate these breakouts. Let’s do focused interventions with different students. Let’s make them explain the math to each other’.” (Sal Khan)
Teachers will remain in charge of the learning experience, much as a conductor leads an orchestra. However, they will be able to ask AI, for example, to mark papers, facilitate lessons and provide peer-to-peer interactions. A teacher might have the AI give students a problem to solve or a reflection question to answer. The tool can provide immediate feedback to the instructor, noting the questions students asked – and hence, pointing out concepts the teacher may need to review. Or it can identify flagging students, so the teacher can intervene. With AI acting as their assistant, teachers will be able to spend more time on the creative, connected and even fun aspects of their job.
About the Podcast
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is a software developer and philanthropist. Sal Khan is founder of Khan Academy, which provides free online courses and resources to learners worldwide. Podcast at Unconfuse Me with Bill Gates