People Who Create Awesome Things: Khan Academy

I’ve decided to start a weekly (-ish) series about people who create awesome things. The blog has already decided to become mostly personal, which is ok for now. I still have a lot of my story to tell. But it gets kinda awkward talking about oneself all the time, so I was thinking I should break it up a bit by talking about others who have inspired me. Authors. Musicians. Educators. Scientists. Basically anyone who’s created something with enough awesomeness to blow me away. I’ll just link to the awesome creation each time and explain in a few paragraphs why it inspired me.

 

 

I chose Khan Academy for my first one, and it wasn’t even hard. Salman Khan is a seriously awesome dude. He knows pretty much everything and he spends all his time explaining it to the rest of us who don’t quite have the prowess to pick it all up on our own.

With Sal Khan, there’s nothing glitzy or attention-seeking (I watched his videos for years before I even knew what he looked like, because his face is never on the screen). He just patiently and simply explains whatever topic he’s teaching on, writing out color-coded notes on the screen. Yes, he really likes to color-code, because if you’re that awesome, why not?

My first experience with Khan Academy was watching the playlist on chemistry. I had never really learned chemistry and I was blown away by how amazing it all was, and by how intuitive Sal could make the concepts. Sometime after I finished, some poor soul made the mistake of wondering how a refrigerator works and I happily jumped in and lectured for an embarrassing amount of time, the whole time ripping off everything Sal had been teaching me. So if you have a tendency to be an annoying nerd, you might want to know that the site does have potential side effects.

After chemistry I dove into the world of math. I never had a good head for math. I somehow stumbled through algebra and geometry in high school, but my understanding was pretty minimal. But I set up my profile, buckled down, and lived for a couple years with a calculator and a stack of scrap paper on my kitchen table. I still don’t have a good head for math, but I did manage to learn a lot. And I got lots of badges and energy points, too (be honest, who doesn’t love badges and energy points?), so that was kinda nifty. I also got to practice ways of relieving stress without banging my head against the table, which started out as my typical reaction to correctly answering four hard problems in a row only to miss the fifth problem that I needed to level up in that skill. For the record, the head-banging never seemed to help.

What else do I say? Hmmm…my kids have used it too, up through the third grade skills, and they seem to enjoy it. Sometimes they have to come ask me a question, but usually they can just click on the video and learn for themselves.

So if you’re interested in learning, head on over and give it a try. It’s easy to register and having an account makes it way easier to use systematically. And it’s entirely free. So a big shout out to Sal Khan who has indisputably created something awesome.

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