OLPC Should Incorporate Khan Academy Videos


A recent TED video describes an impressive set of educational videos being developed by the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy videos cover a wide variety of subjects from mathematics and science to history and geography for elementary school students. The students watch the videos as "homework" and then class time can be devoted to close student - teacher interactions to maximize teacher effectiveness. Related software tests and closely tracks student performance.

They cannot, however, be easily used in developing countries where internet access may be very slow or not available. I suggest that if some or all of the Khan system could be packaged on a 2 terabyte hard drive, it could be attached to a local server, such as an OLPC school server, to provide fast local access.

Another problem for global use of the videos is language. The scripts could help teach English and be used in parallel with Sugar activities in local languages. If we are becoming a global village, we need a common language. Or the scripts could be translated to local languages, but at increased cost.

Updates are a third problem but I suggest that the videos will remain valuable even if they were 10 or 20 years old. In contrast, Sugar activities are evolving rapidly and need frequent updates.

My basic point is that hard discs are so cheap now that OLPC servers can have it all: videos, Sugar activities, and even millions of documents (e.g. from eGranary).

I have no idea how linking Khan Academy videos to OLPC servers might be funded but as a potential donor, I can't think of a more cost effective way for my dollars to do some good in the world.

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Resumen en español al final del artículo

Over the weekend we had some brief, but interesting discussions about the use of Khan Academy content in OLPC projects around the world. This is a topic which we briefly covered in two [more]


I could say a lot about the Khan Academy Videoes, but to spare you all, I'll focus on the fact that they are in English and so they'd only be meaningful if bundled with the OLPC for countries where the children are already fluent in English -- and perhaps studying at English medium schools... which, when you're talking about the developing world, is pretty much no where.

You're right though do note that several translation efforts are underway. e.g. look at http://www.youtube.com/user/khanlatinoamericano for one of the nicer ones I've seen so far. Also Uruguay's Plan Ceibal seems very interested in using Khan Academy content and recently sent out a call for people to help in the translation of the available materials.

In Uruguay there is a group of teachers and volunteers translating Khan videos since almost a year.
Khan academy is not only a set of videos but and most important, it is a complete plattform for self study that can be used in an institution or in a Educational System.
Not only the videos but also exercises and tests that can be used for assess competence.
In Uruguay we have all that is needed to use it this way and provide each student and each teacher of Public Educational System with an account and use the laptops that every child and teacher have to perform a brand new kind of education. If only our authorities would dear to give this step forward. Wish the do.
In the meanwhile, the volunteers may help the transition by doing tutorials in a similar not official plattform for those kids and teachers interested on.

¿Pero no es cuestionable que el lugar nuestro en la producción de conocimiento sea el de ser traductores?

Quizá sea cuestionable ser capaz de hacerlo o no, pero como para el software, no sirve re-inventar la rueda.
Si todos podemos colaborar a una base común y aprovechar a nuestra manera de ella, las cosas avanzarán *mucho* más rápido. Aquí se trata de cosas intangibles que no hacen perder nada a nadie cuando se comparten y se replican.
Creo que el lugar nuestro de producción de contenidos es un lugar que nosotros nos damos por necesidad de creación (un caracter humano) más no por altruismo o para mayor eficiencia.

One of the values of the Khan Academy videos is that they show that they can be created by anyone. The videos needed for a particular topic could be reshot with a local teacher.


Yes, this is my favorite aspect of the videos. They don't require special equipment, you can shoot your own in your backyard; they're just being demonstrated by someone who clearly loves this hobby and treats it with care and craftsmanship.

I ran some KhanAcademy offline servers in orphanages in Indonesia and moving on to mongolia , cambodia , vietnam, bangladesh. From the past projects the kids loved it , though it was not on an XO , we also managed to reuse the KA translated content in indonesia . Im trying to get OLPC in Mongolia to try it out but the entire community seems to be dead here.

We are trying to get these un-used XO to create education hotspots which dont need to be connected to the internet, they are running locally in one central server, with a wi-fi router. This is a cost effective way to get all those laptops better utilized.

check out www.teachaclass.org
This is a self funded initiative that i took up after realising the potential of a lot of education content we have access to abroad. XOs are a great tool to access them even if you dont have internet .

If anyone here knows people form the OLPC community who would be active enough to adopt it in local deployments, we can set them up with this content. Train teachers how to use it.

Watch this video, from about 11:00 and onwards.


Having different languages might not be entirely neccesary. If anything, it could prove quite useful to the children, because knowing English is a very useful skill (and I'm saying this as a non-native-English-speaker).

[also, excuse this very late reply, I just found out about Khan today]

I see this is just another reason to learn English.


I think assuming that students are going to teach themselves how to learn complex math and science by first learning english themselves is wishful thinking.

While Sugata Mishras experiments do allow children to learn how to think and basic computer skill . Teaching oneself how to do complex algebra and equations is not going to happen by itself. Thats why we have schools and hence teachers.

After running pilots for almost 1yr and working with OLPC projects in the field which have been collecting dust , one thing i can say with certainty is :

We all have the right intentions , how we execute it can make the difference .
On the issue of using KA , on OLPC servers

1: Do those communities even like KhanAcademy ( most of the schools we piloted offline KA , did not understand his accent )
2: Is the context in the video relevant ( We dont get avocados in that part of the world ) so how do you localize lessons for a town in India which does not even have access to fruits .
3: Merely leaving a box loaded with content , only creates another $500 of eWaste. If you want them to use it , then we need to make sure that KA is integrated into the curriculum in someway .
4: We should take this as a opportunity to revive previously failed attempts like Sal's. There are quite a few out there who were ahead of their time. Some of them are even locally made.