Monday, November 30, 2009

Changing the world, one student at a time – literally, one student at a time.

by guest blogger, Candice DePrang

The Tech Awards, given out every year to innovators using technology to benefit humanity, recently announced this year’s laureates in the categories of education, equality, environment, health, and economic development. Fifty thousand dollars are doled out to one laureate of three in each category to further the mission of the company, individual, or non – profit.

One of the education laureates, Salman Khan began what he calls the Khan Academy, a non profit organization “with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.” Underpinned with the belief that every student deserves excellent instruction, Khan posts videos on his website and a channel on YouTube. The digital lessons provide explanations and examples for the simple and complex math concepts, ranging from basic algebra to venture capital and capital markets. Students can pace themselves at the academy, and Khan publishes adaptive courses as well.

Perhaps Salman should apply for an i3 award, or perhaps the education community might take note of what these hundred of videos really mean – instruction matters. The quality of a teacher, and his depth of knowledge is significant in the context of a child’s understanding.

It will be interesting to see where this emphasis will surface in the ARRA money, if at all. Salman’s initiative includes innovation, technology, an aspect of professional development, and teaching excellence – his idea covers a spectrum of hot topics. How should states best use the money to ensure every child learns from an excellent teacher? In what ways could the Department demonstrate its own commitment to this mission?

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