Salman Khan, a former hedge fund analyst who is revolutionizing education, has inspired a new initiative at The University of Toledo to enhance technological advancements in education.Khan is the founder of the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to bring a top-tier education to anyone with an Internet connection. His educational videos and software are used by more than 8 million registered users in 200 countries and are part of some 20,000 classrooms.
“It’s beyond surreal on some level these simple ideas are able to empower all these people all over the planet to tap into their potential,” Khan said Tuesday during a lecture in Doermann Theater that kicked off the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series.
He told the story behind the Khan Academy that really started with him working to help his cousin through a math concept. The long-distance tutoring lessons led to public videos on YouTube that people around the world began finding and using to learn the concepts as well. Eventually the videos caught the attention of Bill Gates and Google, which both provided grant money to fund the expansion of Khan Academy into the education technology tool that it is today.
Khan mentioned several times during his speech his support for teachers and the important work they do. He sees his technology as a way to support their efforts and free up more classroom time for innovative learning games and projects or to provide one-on-one mentorship to students.
His goal is to seize this “once-in-a-millennium opportunity” to remove education as a barrier between the haves and the have-nots. Education that used to be scarce and expensive, Khan said, should become “like drinking water and shelter — a fundamental human right.”
Inspired by Khan, UT announced in conjunction with his visit the creation of the UT One World Schoolhouse, inspired by Khan Academy and Khan’s book, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. The schoolhouse will serve as a worldwide association of educators working to explore and test new educational paradigms, models and tools.
Through a triad of divisions, the UT One World Schoolhouse will deliver technological advancements in education, an educational lab, and a cohesive approach to international education.
“We believe, as Salman Khan does, that the ideal model of education, both today and in the future, is a balanced combination of personalized education that is facilitated and enhanced by technology and experiential learning that takes many forms, including advanced simulation and educational games,” said Dr. Scott Scarborough, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Other forms of experiential learning include internships, co-ops, service learning, clinical rotations, field experiences, creative works, study abroad, international conversations and undergraduate research.
The divisions of the schoolhouse include:
• Educational Games and Simulation Division to develop advanced educational games for all levels of learning. This division will connect Main Campus simulation to the new advanced simulation center on Health Science Campus.
• Learning Innovation Laboratories that will be located in renovated space on the second floor of Carlson Library on UT’s Main Campus. This division will partner with numerous educational providers to test and demonstrate new technological and experiential models of education.
• International Connections through which UT global educational endeavors will be managed. This division will work to facilitate and expand international connections to give students of all backgrounds a global education.
“Our goal is to position The University of Toledo as the university of experiential learning. The use of the term, ‘One World Schoolhouse,’ signals our University’s intent to test and then apply Khan’s model of education where it applies best,” Scarborough said.
The initiative will be led by Bill McCreary, a former Owens-Illinois executive with years of high-level managerial and technical expertise.
The University now will enter the tactical phase for creation of the UT One World Schoolhouse, with the entity expected to be operational in fall 2014.