[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Khan way of Transforming Learning

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Listen, you want a glimpse of the future of education? How about Bill Gates vouching for it?

Even If you already know of Khan Academy, still take a few minutes to watch this latest TED Presentation. If you are patient enough, Bill Gates will join Sal Khan on stage around the 18th minute.

I stumbled upon Khan Academy last year, and since that time, he has gone from “somebody” to “the man”. His vision is rather unbelievable – educate the world for free on every topic! His story and rise to limelight is a worth a short film.

This story has been inspiring to me in many fronts. For one, he is making things happen for real. When million others are simply dreaming or talking about just ideas, he is out changing the face of learning, still one day or one video at a time. The realization of his vision in just the last few months is really commendable. They have create an innovative software to facilitate a non-invasive, individualized learning – augmented by the thousands of tutoring videos. Not only that, behind the screen, the software captures tremendous data for the teachers & tutors to evaluate a student’s performance and to have a constructive, thoughtful discussion for further learning and improvement. The best of today’s teachers are manually collating these type of data which takes away the time from focusing on their only goal of positively influencing the development of the students.

When most innovators are behind the startup wagon with a hope of making it big in an IPO, Sal is running this as a non-profit, a social enterprise as I like to think of it. I am certain money is never going to be an issue – even if Gates and Google don’t care for them, scores of philanthropists will line up to write a check for some who is truly impacting the lives of so many people across the world.

Let’s not forget, next to the gift of life, the second best gift to give anyone is education. If he can do that in a simple, easy way that anyone across the globe can use – I salute he is indeed “the man”.

Khan Academy already has a pilot program with Los Altos school district that is showing great promise. Now that he has assembled a fantastic team (I wish I could be part of this team and their mission!!), they are all set to fundamentally transform the way learning will happen in classrooms. No other company, including Microsoft, has been able to introduce this type of transformation. Which is likely why Bill Gates is backing Sal’s vision, besides using it himself to teach math to her daughter.

We need all the other dreamers to take Khan Academy truly global across languages and villages on a mission to educate the masses. Any takers from India?

Prezi – True creativity in presentations

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

I have been using Powerpoint for a good portion of my corporate life. It’s just another tool to communicate. With Powerpoint 2007 (and now Powerpoint 2010), you could be more creative than ever before in better communicating whatever you want. But Prezi is redefining the paradigm of presentations.

Think no more as slides and bullets. Start with a large blank white paper and draw your content out wherever you want. Take it in any direction you want and present ideas in any order, as long as they have some relationship and meaning.

Linear movement across content is pretty standard in most visual communication mediums – including books and movies. However, Our mind doesn’t not think or operate linearly – most often we jump not sequentially but tangentially. Experimental movies (nonlinear narrative) such as “Memento” will bore an average person, but will inspire others who have an appetite for defying logic. “Lateral thinking“, a well known concept in creative thinking circles, emphasizes non-linear approach to creativity. Which is exactly why Prezi has gotten all the attention and evangelical fellowship. Prezi will enable the presenter to present the information visually as close to how the information is perceived and possibly registered in our memory. The hope is that presenting information using tools such as Prezi will increase your success – be it influencing your audience or helping them learn something new.

We are so attuned to expecting things linearly that your first exposure to Prezi will not ring much bells. Although the fundamental concepts such as non-linear movement within content and zoom in/out will initially grab your attention more to the medium than the message, Prezi is redefining how communications will happen in the future.

Of course, no great presentation tool will make up for poor thinking and lack of creativity. In the end, it’s still you, who will make a great presentation – where it’s with a napkin or prezi.

Here is one Great Prezi by Kevin McAllister that I am really impressed – and hoping to use it as basis for my own Prezis.

Another good Prezi – Sweet Recipe to Solving Problems