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Bill Gates Enrolls His Kids In Khan Academy 286

Posted by timothy
from the open-course-ware dept.
theodp writes "At some schools, a teaching load of five courses every academic year is considered excessive. But Sal Khan, as an earlier Slashdot post noted, manages to deliver his mini-lectures an average of 70,000 times a day. BusinessWeek reports that Khan Academy has a new fan in Bill Gates, who's been singing and tweeting the praises of the free-as-in-beer website. 'This guy is amazing,' Gates wrote. 'It is awesome how much he has done with very little in the way of resources.' Gates and his 11-year-old son have been soaking up videos, from algebra to biology. And at the Aspen Ideas Festival in front of 2,000 people, Gates gave Khan a shout-out, touting the 'unbelievable' Khan Academy tutorials that 'I've been using with my kids.'"
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Bill Gates Enrolls His Kids In Khan Academy

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  • khaaan (Score:5, Funny)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @08:25AM (#33408252) Homepage Journal

    KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN.

    What do you get if you cross God Father and an economist?

    An offer you can't understand

    I have nothing else :(

  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Sunday August 29, 2010 @08:26AM (#33408258)
    Using Gates in place of Kirk, make your own cool Star Trek: Wrath of Khan movie quotes! Discuss...
    • by Logarhythmic (1082321) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @12:27PM (#33409216)

      Steve: I've done far worse than bankrupt you, Gates. I've humiliated you. And I wish to go on humiliating you. I shall leave you as you [kinda wish you could have] left me... marooned for all eternity in the mire of public opinion. Buried alive... buried alive

      Bill: JOOOOOOOOOOBS!

    • by pitchpipe (708843)

      Using Gates in place of Kirk, make your own cool Star Trek: Wrath of Khan movie quotes! Discuss...

      AHA! Now that I'm in control of the Enterprise I will take it back to the Borg Collective for assimilation!

      Wait, what the hell are the Borg doing here so early!?

  • Gates Foundation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sourcerror (1718066) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @08:27AM (#33408262)

    It would cool, if the Gates Foundation donated for Khan Academy, because as far as I know Khan is now burning his savings.

    • by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Sunday August 29, 2010 @08:39AM (#33408284)

      It would be nice if Microsoft hadn't been overcharging education establishments for their software for years. Perhaps then they would have had more money to spend on other things.

      All that money Gates and Microsoft have is down to them emptying everyone's pockets for mundane software like Office, adding the Microsoft "tax" to every PC sale and so on. Gates's charity is all about recognition. The best charity is that where the donors are anonymous, that way they have no agenda, they aren't trying to change the way people think about them.

      I'm sure if we all had more money than we could possibly spend we would give it away.

      Plenty of criticism here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Melinda_Gates_Foundation#Criticism [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It would be nice if Microsoft overcharged educational establishments enough that academics outside math, physics, computer science, and finance also started using LaTeX, which is older but vastly superior to Word.

        • by Mathinker (909784) * on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:10AM (#33408362) Journal

          > started using LaTeX, which is older but vastly superior to Word

          I love LaTeX, it produces beautifully typeset math, but for your average biologist, English professor, etc., I can see that something a bit less high-powered and easier to use ("what you see is approximately what you get") would be more optimal.

          In other words, it's not chance that many academics don't use LaTeX.

          • by wjh31 (1372867)
            you should have a look at Lyx
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward
              I wouldn't wish LyX on my worst enemy.

              Anyone who thinks LyX is worth its weight in bits is kidding (him/her)self. The UI is horrible and it's buggy as hell.
              • by fbjon (692006)
                How so? I had only ever used Word and OpenOffice before, nor had I ever written Latex manually in my life, yet I've successfully written papers with LyX, and found it far easier to use than the black magic required for word processors. Also, less bugs encountered than with either word processor.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Mathinker (909784) *

            Ooops, forgot to add --- all those academics who don't use LaTeX could probably use something open-source (OO.o, Abiword, KWord), except that my guess is that (many of) the journals they publish in only accept their submissions in MS Word format. So they decide to play safe and use MS.

          • by Greyfox (87712) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @11:30AM (#33408952) Homepage Journal
            TeX and LaTeX produce the most beautiful documents I've ever seen off a computer. If you're googling for them, be sure to include "document preparation system" in your keywords, though. Otherwise you'll have to wash your brain.
          • by Jezza (39441) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @11:54AM (#33409042)

            Err, nonsense. This is a tool you use everyday right? How long did it take to learn to use a pencil? OK so there is a bit of "upfront" learning, then you can write documents everywhere you can find an editor, and seldom think about formatting. Yet your documents look fantastic (or sh!t if you've got no taste).

            How many Microsoft Word users actually use Styles? (Fewer than you think) How many understand Sections? (Fewer than you think) How many actually understand tab stops and how to use them (I mean the different kinds)? (Fewer than you think)

            So you either have a tool that when you don't know how to use it, you're totally aware you don't know how to use it, or a tool that most people think they know how to use even though they don't have a clue.

            Now what's optimal?

          • In other words, it's not chance that many academics don't use LaTeX.

            That's for sure! The greatest minds wasted to syphilis, again! What a shame.

      • by thenextpresident (559469) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:15AM (#33408388) Homepage Journal

        The criticisms presented there seem to essentially be criticisms that could be thrown at any charity. None of them registered as problem with the foundation itself. In some of the cases, the only solution to resolve the complaint is to lower or eliminate the amount donated.

        Sorry, but those people complaining are going to complain whatever happens.

        • by Beetle B. (516615) <.moc.liame. .ta. .b_elteeb.> on Sunday August 29, 2010 @10:40AM (#33408732)

          The criticisms presented there seem to essentially be criticisms that could be thrown at any charity.

          This. Essentially, the criticisms are saying that the money could be better utilized, and not saying that it is doing any damage as it is. Put another way, had Bill Gates never provided the money in the first place (which is his right), nothing would be better. The Foundation isn't making anything in the world worse.

      • by Aquitaine (102097) <{sam} {at} {iamsam.org}> on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:30AM (#33408450) Homepage

        Wow. What an angry, narrow-minded post. 'Insightful' indeed.

        I have no more love for Microsoft than the next guy, but you act like we're all being forced to buy MS products and that every cent they've earned was all but stolen from our pockets, and that, if it weren't stolen from our pockets, we'd be giving all that money to charity ourselves. Yeah, right.

        Gates believes that recognition will drive more people to charity than anonymity. As an un-involved businessman who gives a small piece of his small profit to charity every year, I share your preference for anonymous donations, because the cause (whatever it may be) is certainly more important than the donor. This isn't what Gates is arguing. He's saying that whatever harm comes from the recognition factor, at the end of the day, you'll have an order of magnitude more money coming in from people who want that recognition such that, if the cause is so important, funding it an extra order of magnitude is much more important than our anonymity principle. That's a tough case to argue, because vanity is definitely a big piece of philanthropy, and as much as I think stamping people's names on university buildings or theater/classroom seats is dumb, I'd rather have a theater or a classroom with some stranger's name on everything than not have it.

        Gates' charity is not 'all about recognition,' either. He honestly believes that recognition is an important piece of the cycle; you're free to disagree, but as I imagine that neither you nor I have achievements that even come close to what his charity accomplishes in a single year, I think it's very easy for us to throw stones and paint him as a jerk.

        As it happens, I actually don't completely support a big piece of what his charity does -- focusing on disease in Africa -- but it's foolish and simply wrong to suggest that Gates is just a successful crook rather than an accomplished individual who is free to spend the fruits of his labor as he pleases.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          What he is saying is give your time away free now rather than 5 percent of profits from over charging for it later. In terms of karma of course giving you time counts far more that giving a portion of the proceeds of deceit (false advertising is deceit upon a grand scale).

          Whilst it is nice to donate to charity you can not of course buy karma. If a doctor and their research who spent the life learning and focusing upon solving some of the humanities greatest problems comes up with a cure for a terrible di

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by BasilBrush (643681)

          OK, I'll bite. What do you think is wrong with a charity combatting disease in Africa?

          • by Aquitaine (102097) <{sam} {at} {iamsam.org}> on Sunday August 29, 2010 @12:14PM (#33409158) Homepage

            I was just talking about that subject this morning, as it happens. The argument against fighting disease in Africa basically says that, when you spend hundreds of millions fighting diseases and starvation that kill children in Africa in countries without well-developed, democratic societies, what you get in 20-30 years is a large population of healthy young adults who are still in a country without a developed society, without even a semi-modern economy, and without much modern healthcare outside of what other countries donate. In other words, you have a population that is vastly larger than what the country can economically support, and you don't have jobs for them, so you get a lot of militant young guys whose pasttimes are either making lots of babies or causing problems.

            Now, that's a gross oversimplification of the problem, and I'm actually not sold on it as a reason to say 'bah, let disease kill millions!' as that's a pretty cold stance to take. You'll sometimes hear opponents of this kind of charity point out that disease is Nature's way of controlling population, but you could justify quite a few scary things with that reasoning.

            I do think that the 'feel good about yourself by donating to starving children' drive of the last 60-70 years is shortsighted in this respect, but of course it's much easier to feed even large numbers of starving people than it is to set up a modern government and economy in some of these African countries, assuming even that you have the right to try and do so (which is a big assumption).

            In other words, not unlike Mr. Gates himself, the 'disease and starvation in Africa' subject is a complex one that has a lot more going on than the sound bytes you usually hear. I haven't reached a conclusion on Africa because most of the conversation about it goes like this:

            Feels Good Guy: I just gave $1,000 to charity and saved the lives of 100 kids in Africa!
            Skeptical Guy: What about their education? Their future health care? Do they have a chance at being self-sufficient later or will they simply need even more external support as they get older?
            Feels Good Guy: Racist!

            Anyway, that's what's (potentially) wrong with it. I tried to paint a pretty neutral picture because I really do want to hear more actual conversation on the subject rather than the knee-jerk stuff that's out there.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sourcerror (1718066)

              Well, the main problem I see is that you don't see these charities supporting trade schools, only elementary schools (and that won't improve the students' job prosopects).

            • by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @12:58PM (#33409348)

              But given that the Gates Foundation spends money on third world development as well, that seems to mostly satisfy that reservation of yours.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Melinda_Gates_Foundation [wikipedia.org]

              Of course the foundation and every other charity can do little about the politics of some countries. But letting people needlessly die because they are in a country which currently has a bad government is not really on. Besides citizens of those countries will not concern themselves with fixing their politics whilst they are still concerned with basic survival. See:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs [wikipedia.org]

            • by scrib (1277042)

              The problem with that argument is that having a healthy, young population is how you DEVELOP a society.

              The economy isn't a pie that gets divided up among the people, it is a pot-luck in which every person contributes to the larger picture. The more people you have with demands to fulfill, the more people you have fulfilling demands.

              Jobs don't just spring up in a void without people to fill them. Jobs come into markets from outside when an untapped labor force exists. Jobs are created within a market when so

        • I have no more love for Microsoft than the next guy

          You have no more love for Microsoft than cmdrsalamander (102098)? [slashdot.org] The guy posted one comment 10 years ago, and it wasn't even about Microsoft. How could you possibly tell? ;-)

      • by Beetle B. (516615)

        It would be nice if Microsoft hadn't been overcharging education establishments for their software for years.

        Citation?

        Plenty of criticism here:

        Sorry - those criticisms are not "The Foundation is causing harm", but "If I had the money, I'd spend it on something else". Had the Foundation not existed, nothing in the body of those criticisms would be better in the world.

    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:15AM (#33408398) Homepage

      The website says that "generous individuals" have donated enough that he can do it full time. Given Gates' well known financial commitments to education it wouldn't surprise me at all if Gates has donated.

      To a lesser extent I guess Google is also donating by hosting the projects infrastructure for free, notably YouTube but also AppEngine and other things.

      • The website says that "generous individuals" have donated enough that he can do it full time. Given Gates' well known financial commitments to education it wouldn't surprise me at all if Gates has donated.

        Give Gates' use of tax-crediting 'charity' for self-promotion and aggrandizement, we'd know already if he'd given him money. There would pictures of enormous checks and handshakes.

        The cynical view: Money you give to charity is money you would have had to give to income tax, but you get to look generous and to make sure it goes to causes that do not interfere with your investment strategies. Bill looks generous to you, to cynics he just looks calculating.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          It's like the Rockefeller's. Once you have more money than you can spend in a lifetime, you tend to give it away (at least with new money, the Hiltons, Fords and such, where the ones that made the things that earned the money didn't make it to "filthy rich" until the children were involved tend to be tight-assed pricks).

          Money you give to charity is money you would have had to give to income tax, but you get to look generous and to make sure it goes to causes that do not interfere with your investment str
    • by timeOday (582209)

      It would cool, if the Gates Foundation donated for Khan Academy, because as far as I know Khan is now burning his savings.

      Seeking out people who are already doing great things on their own and then offering help is probably the only Gates can get any real work done; I'd imagine there's a deluge of people promising him the moon 2-3 years after they receive his "support," but 99% of them don't really have a vision.

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @08:29AM (#33408266) Journal

    He's the rich founder of MS, yet he's an awesome [givingpledge.org] philanthropist and geek father keen to educate his kids properly.

    You have stuff to learn from this guy.

    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @08:55AM (#33408324)
      "He's an overflowing cup filled with the very cream of human goodness. In all the time I've known him he's never done anything immoral." - Hanover Fiste
    • by s-whs (959229)

      He's the rich founder of MS, yet he's an awesome philanthropist and geek father keen to educate his kids properly.

      He gives money away that he has no use for anyway. Result: He can steer the direction of research that 'his' money goes to, he gets to decide which charities get money. With being an criminal in how he did business in Microsoft, he's effectively stolen money from hundreds of millions of people, driven other business into the ground, and taken away the choice to give to charity to other people

      • by rotide (1015173)

        What the fuck have you donated to?
        What diseases have you put a real effort into trying to solve/cure?

        Yes, I get it, you don't like the guy. So lets just bash him into the ground with whatever made up bullshit you can just to get mod points on anti-MS slashdot. Fuck facts, as long as you can pull mod points for flamebait and outright trollish posts.

      • by Beetle B. (516615) <.moc.liame. .ta. .b_elteeb.> on Sunday August 29, 2010 @10:52AM (#33408778)

        He gives money away that he has no use for anyway. Result: He can steer the direction of research that 'his' money goes to, he gets to decide which charities get money. With being an criminal in how he did business in Microsoft, he's effectively stolen money from hundreds of millions of people, driven other business into the ground, and taken away the choice to give to charity to other people. Whether that would have been done is another matter, he's still taken away the choice. Oh and as to giving away 'his' money, from what I've read he has not actually done so but in effect set up another business (the business of providing money to his selected charities) which is based on 'his' money but mainly giving other people's money, those people who have given their money to his foundation, away to his selected charities.

        You make it sound as if he made most of his money by charging the Windows tax for every computer sold, because that's the only really troublesome thing he did.

        Since you're talking about "choice", almost always people had the choice not to buy MS software. Almost always there was a viable alternative. If they paid for an overpriced product, almost none was forced to.

        And suggesting he's not giving his own money is just plain ignorant. Look it up - he gave $3.5 billion of his own money just in the last few years. And it's estimated that over his whole life, he's given $28 billion of his own assets away.

      • There is nothing I can learn from a sociopath like Billy gates.

        Even the most Evil person on Earth teaches something we can all learn.

        What NOT to do.

        I respect Gates as a business man but I wouldn't pause to mourn his passing as a person.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:13AM (#33408382) Homepage Journal

      Gates Foundation makes for-profit investments that are killing the very people they claim to be helping [latimes.com]

      Gates is personally heavily invested in big Pharma [theregister.co.uk]

      You have stuff to learn from this guy.

      Yeah, how to hide in plain sight and control governments.

      • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:53AM (#33408548) Journal

        Yeah, what's happening here is that someone with a lot of capital is investing it to increase the amount of money available. This is what almost all well-funded foundations do. It would be, you hopefully realise, fucking stupid to either stuff the money under the mattress or give it all away immediately.

        Now, such investments will almost certainly in some ways trickle down to operations which are harmful to some people in some way. Every cent you have in a bank or other investment account is doing a similar thing. It is perfectly legitimate to call a foundation up on this in the hope that you can encourage them to make investments you consider more ethically sound, but it doesn't imply some sort of plot to exploit / harm the ones you're helping.

        In Gates' specific case he's tried to stop the investment side from interfering with the giving side and vice versa to prevent conflicts of interest. The inevitable result is that sometimes an investment will appear in some indirect way to harm a charitable effort. Perhaps you can argue that each side should keep a closer eye on what the other is doing.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Yeah, what's happening here is that someone with a lot of capital is investing it to increase the amount of money available. This is what almost all well-funded foundations do. It would be, you hopefully realise, fucking stupid to either stuff the money under the mattress or give it all away immediately.

          It's also bullshit to claim that you're altruistic when you're too uninterested in positive progress to even be cautious about where you invest.

          Every cent you have in a bank or other investment account is doing a similar thing.

          This is why what little money I do have is banked with a local credit union, not a federal one, or a mainstream bank. For a while I was using WAMU because they seemed less evil than other banks and I liked being able to find an ATM, but then they were declared insolvent even though they were in a better position than many other banks, and taken over by Chase. Chase

          • It's also bullshit to claim that you're altruistic when you're too uninterested in positive progress to even be cautious about where you invest.

            Except that the aim is not to "claim that you're altruistic" but to support a specific set of causes. If I love cats and donate billions a year to cat charities you can't bitch, "You're not being altruistic because you made your money selling landmines!" All I claimed was that I wanted to help cats.

            Also, you can argue that he's not being cautious enough if you like - that he's too goal-directed and happily makes certain high-return investments to guarantee the greatest possible revenue source for his specif

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              This isn't He Man vs Skeletor. Consider what he's doing that's good and try to do something about what he's doing bad. Don't just exclaim, "Well he's a cunt because he does at least X Y Z wrong; we'll ignore him!" and throw your arms up in self-righteousness.

              Self-righteousness? Ad Hominem. Gates is a cunt specifically because he is aware of examples like this one in which his foundation is investing in evil, and his response is that checking to see if he's doing harm would be difficult, so it's not going to be done. The most important vote you can cast is the disposition of a dollar, or other currency unit. Gates controls more of them than almost anyone else on the planet. He deliberately chooses to be careless, or to be evil in the guise of carelessness, about

              • Maybe he has a different sense of priority to you. In the case of air pollution addressed earlier, maybe Gates recalls how many Western countries - and now China and India - have gone/are going through periods of intense pollution killing or harming a great number of people. Maybe he believes this is part of the process of industrialisation, and the solution is not to stop investing in companies which pollute but to save the workforce from far more basic problems so the country's development can accelerate.

        • It was a well written, respectful, explanation excusing Mr. Gates' behavior by rationalizing that everybody's money in some way or another funds "bad" things in life. I, however, don't agree nor do I accept any attempt to excuse his behavior. The bottom line is that MOST people don't have BILLIONS of dollars invested DIRECTLY into corporations with unethical behavior. Does Gates foundation fund charities? Well, maybe they do. The questions I have for everyone who thinks that Mr. Gates is doing good is this
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by kevinNCSU (1531307)
            Yea, I'm sure Gates is all like: "I'll only donate 10 million dollars to your foundation if you agree to pay me $100 for these 2 copies of Microsoft office and swear a blood oath never to install Open Office." It's the perfect crime!!
        • by jd2112 (1535857)

          It would be, you hopefully realise, fucking stupid to either stuff the money under the mattress or give it all away immediately.

          I don't know... My "Serta Fund" has been outperforming most of my other investments lately...

    • I personally have more respect for him for being a rich founder of MS than for giving money away. The first was difficult, the second was easy. The first brought about a revolution in mass available cheap computing, the second, despite the size of his fund, is a drop in the ocean in the way he is using it. If he actually wanted to make a difference in the third world, he would invest in the only things that possibly can make a real difference:

      - investment in local businesses and providing substantial star
  • by mayberry42 (1604077) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @08:39AM (#33408286)
    you Khan believe in!
  • ... how to make your computer and/or your web browser be able to play these videos without borging it with Flash?

    • flash gordon will play flash by converting it to javascript.
      presumably you could create your own page feed in the flash object of interest and be able to play the flash video without flash, of course the details are left as an exercise for the reader.
      alternatively you can use the adobe's flash player or use the gpl version.

      seriously get over it, flash may not be open but its free enough to work on most systems where allowed. It's only Apple really that has an issue with flash on the iPhone. Not that flash c

      • by hedwards (940851)
        But it's not available on all systems, and where it is available it sucks. It's not now nor has it ever been a legitimate standard, if Macromedia, now Adobe, doesn't care about your platform, then you can pretty much expect to be locked out of large portions of the internet. Worse is the fact that there are sites out there that don't feel like offering an alternative for those without flash. Not to mention that flash sites are not ADA compliant as they don't allow access to the blind.

        Those are very real
      • by Skapare (16644)

        Security is not a "get over it" issue. Flash is broken and insecure. It would be the big gaping hole in an otherwise secure computer. Just because the masses run their computers insecurely, that doesn't mean others should, too.

        This would not be the same issue if we were talking about something that ONLY Flash could do. If that were the case, then it would be a genuine tradeoff. But playing video is NOT limited to Flash. It's been possible long before web sites like YouTube. And browsers like Firefox could a

  • Think about it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by giltwist (1313107) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:15AM (#33408394)
    Thirty years ago, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) released a controversial document entitled An Agenda for Action. Part of what made the position statement so controversial was the recommendation that computers and calculators should be a part of every mathematics classroom (http://www.nctm.org/standards/content.aspx?id=17282). Many teachers and parents feared that students might never learn mathematics properly if they could just press a few buttons to produce a correct answer. In stark contrast, the schoolchildren of the YouTube generation are virtually inseparable from their portable electronics - many of which are more powerful than early graphing calculators that NCTM. Dubbed digital natives (http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky - Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants - Part1.pdf), none among them were alive during a time when there was no Internet. As a result, the question is no longer “if” technology should be a part of public education but is now “how much”.

    Many schools are emerging that are online-only (http://keystonehighschool.com/) or otherwise devoted to technology (http://www.neatorama.com/2010/01/09/school-teaches-its-students-almost-entirely-through-video-games/). You can even earn a doctorate at an online university (http://www.phoenix.edu/colleges_divisions/doctoral.html)! Additionally, online resources like the amateur Khan Academy or the commercial ALEKS (http://www.aleks.com/) are beginning to challenge several long-standing assumptions about the need for face-to-face instruction or even the need for teachers. Most importantly, it is worth stating that the research on eLearning is mixed, as a whole. A specific eLearning package may help in reading but not in mathematics, may help at third grade but not eighth grade, or may help on a state-level test but not on a national-level test. So, there is no clear answer on a “best” package or way to use technology. However, there are several key points to consider:

    Embarrassment

    To be honest, nobody likes to be wrong, and mathematics is a subject in which students are often told that they are, at least technically, incorrect. It is no wonder that eLearning can get such positive feedback from students. Many packages use little to no direct contract with a teacher; even if they do, a student is not going to be told they are incorrect in front of twenty or thirty of their peers. A private email is not so bad in comparison to even the gentlest public rebuke. Similarly, nobody needs to know if a given student has been successful either. It is often considered geeky to be good at school, especially in the STEM subjects. This turns many people away from science and mathematics, particularly girls. eLearning can provide a method to circumvent such peer scrutiny.

    Motivation

    Students like computers. Given a choice between a hands-on activity and an identical computer activity, many students will opt for the latter. Moreover, students like games, and eLearning developers are actively trying to capitalize on that appeal. While good in theory, a key implementation problem is that much edutainment uses the games as a reward for practice (http://www.funbrain.com/math/index.html) rather than as the means for actually teaching the material (http://ldt.stanford.edu/ldt1999/Students/kemery/esc/rockyDemoFrame.htm). I certainly approve of additional practice, but even the most motivated student requires a good explanation now and then.

    Willingness

    Another thing to keep in mind is that school occurs on a set schedule over which the student has little to no control. Much of eLearning is available whenever the student is willing to participate. In other words, those who succeed are those who have chosen to participate. In fact, research often shows that eLearning success is strongly dependent upon the amount of time a student participates. Of course, convincing someone to dedicate time and effort to actual eLearning is no
    • by shentino (1139071)

      A calculator can only crunch numbers, it can't think for you.

      Just because you can push buttons doesn't mean you're dumb if you use it.

      You still have to be smart enough to know which buttons to push.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      I'm still of the opinion that e-learning can work... up to a point. You need face-to-face interaction once you reach a certain level of complexity. Online universities don't have much of a reputation, and for good reason: interaction with teachers and other students is absolutely critical at that point. It not only helps you solve problems and understand things more effectively, it also allows you to share and hear new ideas and thoughts that others might voice, making you a more aware, more diverse being t
    • I still can't figure out how we wound up with a culture where it is a mark of shame to be *good* at something like math or science. How the hell does that happen? And, no, it's not religion, at least not where I went to school.
  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Evil (3501) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:30AM (#33408446)

    This is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen on the Internet. Finally, somebody is taking a new medium and presenting this kind of lecture material in a format and method where students can obtain the material themselves. Kids, without money, can actually obtain this stuff and learn from it. It's not a product being sold, it's just incredible. I dreamed of this kind of content as a kid. I think all geeks did. It was only available to be doled out by clueless adults to learn at the pace they felt you were ready for it, or it was crap being shoveled at parents to give their kids a "head start"

    ...and presenting it world-wide, this is *stunning*.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      What you are talking about is called a library. A place where people can go and learn all sorts of things. Most developed countries have one in various locations to be accessible to the populous.

      One may say the tech innovation is the video aspect, but people have been making educational videos for years, often selling that at very low prices or giving them away for free. I have a friend who does this and sells them in the villages of developing country where is from. They don't have internet access or

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @09:44AM (#33408512)

    Gates complains about smart Americans all going to Wall Street instead of R&D. But Gates has gone before the US congress, many times, and argued that even more US tech workers should lose their jobs to H1B visa workers.

    Just last year, even as Microsoft was firing US tech workers by the thousands, Microsoft was simultaneously hiring their H1B replacements.

    Due to the situation that Gates himself has helped create, smart Americans would be stupid to train for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) jobs.

    • by mc moss (1163007) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @10:13AM (#33408638)

      This is why I left the tech sector and went straight into finance. That along with the ridiculous job requirements (must know every language under the sun) & ageism, staying in the tech sector for the long run didn't seem like a good idea.

      Still code as a hobby though :)

    • by chrb (1083577)

      Just last year, even as Microsoft was firing US tech workers by the thousands, Microsoft was simultaneously hiring their H1B replacements.

      Were these people in directly comparable jobs? I am no defender of Microsoft, but it is hardly unique during a recession to lay off some unprofitable divisions whilst maintaining other more profitable ones (a company has to keep hiring to replace people who leave).

      Due to the situation that Gates himself has helped create, smart Americans would be stupid to train for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) jobs.

      There are many people working in financial services who have degrees in mathematics or the sciences.

    • Sale Sale Sale (Score:2, Interesting)

      by squirrl (1544899)
      H1B's take back what they learn, Microsoft. Their governments take back an indoctrinated acolyte. I can understand mastery of a toolset. Person A comes to work skilled and certified in Visual Studio, C#, and SQL Server. Person B comes to work familiar with the aforementioned products but as well is familiar with Oracle, Ubuntu, and Java's suite of tools. Person C comes to work familiar with SQL Server but generally only has an administrative background. So management has these three people to work as a
  • Gaates (Score:2, Funny)

    by fartrader (323244)

    GAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTESSSSSSS!

  • Happy Student (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Soulshift (1044432) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @10:06AM (#33408606)
    I'm currently teaching myself linear algebra with the aid of Khan's videos, and I couldn't be happier with the quality of the material.

    The fact that his work is steadily garnering more attention is a good thing in my view, since it increases the likelihood of more excellent videos being made available for free as a result of donations, grants, etc.

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