Salman Khan’s Mission To Educate the World for Free

Interviews with people who shape our culture.
Oct. 5 2012 11:15 AM

The Tech-Driven Teacher

Salman Khan’s audacious mission to offer online education to anyone, anywhere for free.

When you hear Salman Khan’s story, it sounds like an Internet-age fairy tale, one that goes something like this. Once upon a time, a brainy MIT graduate working as a hedge-fund analyst started tutoring his cousin in math and science online. He decided to make YouTube videos of his tutorials. The videos racked up millions of views and reached audiences around the world, and appreciative students offered stirring testimonials. After three years, the hedge-fund analyst quit his day job to set up an educational nonprofit called The Khan Academy. The mission: provide a world-class education to anyone, anywhere for free.

Khan knows that his mission statement is a bit grandiose, but he believes the Khan Academy’s online teaching materials, including its archive of more than 3,000 videos, have the power to reach students in ways that classroom settings sometimes can’t. The Khan Academy combines video tutorials with exercises and problems tailored to an individual student’s performance level.

But does it work? Khan sat down recently with Slate’s Jacob Weisberg to talk about his new book and the results his nonprofit is producing.

In Part 1 of the interview, Khan explains how The Khan Academy flips the teaching model on its head. And in the third segment, he addresses how the education establishment has responded.