Sunday, August 21, 2011

Khan Academy

Recently I began to follow the work of Salman Khan.  He has become a celebrity in many circles, and I would not be surprised if he makes the cover of Time within the next year.  He is changing education by changing the method of it's delivery.

At his 2011 TED talk, Khan said something extremely profound and the audience didn't react.  After Kahn began his next sentence, and after the profound statement had time to creep into the minds of the audience members, the crowd suddenly errupted into applause.

At about 6:30 into the you-tube video, Kahn says, 

"I assign the lectures for homework, and what used to be homework, I now have students doing in the classroom."

Watch the video here:

This will change the method of delivery for medical education and in reality, many medical schools are already inadvertently using the Khan method at their schools!

For example, when I was going through my basic science years at NYU, I rarely went to lecture.  Instead, I sat in my bedroom and listened to the recorded lectures and read along with the PowerPoints that had been video-captured.  I would rewind when I didn't understand a lecturer's point, I would press stop when I wanted to eat lunch or was getting board, and I would press fast forward and listen to the lecture in 2.5 times speed when I came upon content that I already knew.  The big part missing from my method of study that Khan's method embraces, was the "doing in the classroom" "what used to be homework ."

Why can't medical education take advantage of this sensible method of delivery?  Students can watch lectures and read required texts and articles at home.  Then, they can be parsed into knowledge groups in which those groups meet with a professor to discuss relevant patient cases and medical content.  Those with a high understanding of the content might meet with a professor for a shorter period of time than those with a lower level of understanding.  Or those with higher understanding could go over more advanced topics pertaining to the lectures that they watched.

Better yet, after doing the work at home, students could sign up for which class they wanted to take.  Those who feel they've mastered the content at home, would have a small group with a professor who would discuss more advanced topics or related topics like medical ethics or public health; those who prefer learning in person to the Khan method, could have their own more traditional method grouping; the possibilities for groupings are endless.

How do you think the Khan Academy could change medical education?    


  1. Kahn is a genius - where was he when I was going through school!

    Also - I need a medical education consult. We need to chat. Drop me a line when you can. John Jesus

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