Arnold Kling  

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The Economy in Transition... King Khan...

Khan of the Khan Academy.

If Tyler Cowen still believes in stagnation after watching this video, then he has no soul.


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COMMENTS (20 to date)
Kevin writes:

I've learned more from Khan Academy than all four years of college...for FREE!

B writes:

Am I weird for being made giddy by this presentation? This is seriously cool.

Various writes:

Wow, impressive!

I personally think our educational institutions, expecially for K-12, are in the Dark Ages. It's refreshing to see some "light"

rapscallion writes:

Widespread adoption of the same software in public schools would allow detailed statistical analysis of test results by race and ethnicity. This virtually guarantees disparate impact lawsuits which could easily ruin the company, so I hope the Khan Academy has some really, really good lawyers.

Torben writes:

This is one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time. I'm really surprised I hadn't heard of this sooner.

Pat writes:

Cowen says, "Internet, schminternet."

This goes to show why looking at income is all wrong to determine if there is stagnation.

Brian Clendinen writes:

@rapscallion, Not if they corrected for parental status which should show no differences. I wonder home many homeschoolers are using this?

I was giddy watching this, its about time for educators to stop trying to use technology to replace the most valuable parts of human interaction. I have always been skeptical on teacher merit pay. Not that is was a bad idea but that there was not a system to correctly analyze performance. That is why I thought the bill just past in Florida on Merit Pay was not going to be much help. However, with software like this I totally reverse my opinion. Merit pay can actually be quite effective with detailed student performance data like this.

Ricardo Cruz writes:

One week prior to the exam to this Calculus course, I was sure I was going to fail. Finding and watching the khan videos, not only saved my behind, but actually got me the highest grade of the class. Donated $50 bucks at the time: I probably should show more gratification now I can afford it.

Anyhow, I wonder that, as the website becomes more popular, and as it becomes a widespread tool among students, what effect will it have on the academia. Will professors make exams tougher, as they see more people doing them with ease? Will they not put as much effort on their lectures? Or, in the other hand, will they try to compete with that resource and invest more into their class?

blink writes:

The lessons are very good and one can learn specific skills from them. This is especially true for young kids or weak readers.

On the other hand, for people who can read, the same information could be gleaned from reading a couple of pages in a textbook. What is the value added here? The organization system? Khan's intonation? His handwriting? Maybe the games to check for mastery? The concept deserves wider play, but is not a counter-example to stagnation.

gwern writes:

> If Tyler Cowen still believes in stagnation after watching this video, then he has no soul.

Great. So Khan Academy may recover a constant factor of the economy.

How's it going to bring back 3-10% GDP growth in the USA?

Jason Collins writes:

I'd like to see some randomised trials against the huge range of innovative teaching methods out there, evidence of real world effects and it actually being adopted before declaring this useful evidence in the argument about stagnation.

Dan Weber writes:

Even though I teach my kid math, it's awesome to be able to let him watch Sal's videos, too.

This needs a lot more exposure.

Chris writes:

I've been following this for about a year now and think the "practice" part of this application is fantastic. It makes me want to go through the exercises over again, especially Biology and Chemistry.

Brock writes:

I'm really excited about Khan Academy. I am also looking forward to their breaking out into all non-STEM subjects, like grammar and rhetoric. Their history videos are a good start.

ThomasL writes:

The place where a separate from some on stagnation is that many people are excited about technology getting faster or with greater capacity and get giddy over all the things (unimagined in specific, but dizzying in abstract) that they think we'll be able to do then.

While I have no doubt that technology will continue to improve, I am pretty stunned by what it could do now given time to develop it to its existing potential.

I think if computer technology really did stagnate right here for a decade or so, that decade could still be filled with tremendous changes and new products the whole while. We've got so much capability in the hardware even now, and the systems supported by that hardware are becoming so complex, I find the bottlenecks are more in the realm of manhours than technical limits. That isn't universally true, of course, but speaking generally I think it fits.

And many projects are not well suited to throwing more engineers at it... in fact it is common to do better with smaller teams, which means you've just have to wait on the engineers you've got to finish.

Put more succinctly, if you could find a way so that throwing engineers at a problem/product would scale linearly, that would be the biggest advancement of all.

Jeremy, Alabama writes:

I have set up my 5 year old on this. It is fabulous, achievement-oriented true mastery of important fundamental skills.

But also: here are a couple of very wealthy people (I presume Khan became independently wealthy, and now Gates must be providing some funding) providing a premier educational experience open to everybody. Sure, lots of truly wealthy never do anything to explicitly help their fellow man, but there are enough people like this, who get their kicks from improving people's lives, that it leaves me wishing that our politics took a kinder view of 'the rich'.

Now, if only Khan didn't look so much like Everybody Loves Raymond ...

MattW writes:

I think Kling's jab at Tyler Cowen is a very poor one. TGS's claim is that for the last few decades the median person or family in the US has seen much lower growth. The information/digital age has increased returns to upper SES people, but not the median.

And, Khan's education system has only begun to be implemented at 2 schools (districts?). Perhaps this will be the beginning of a large improvement in education (I hope so), but it hasn't even started yet. So TGS's claim that the last few decades haven't seen great leaps is untouched by Khan Academy.

Michael Stack writes:

Education reminds me of where newspapers were about 20 years ago. There is so much redundant activity - thousands of teachers a day teaching the same things, day after day. Ideally you'd like for the very best teachers to teach everyone, and it looks like technology can provide that.

Technology is eliminating a lot of the effort-duplication in news, it'd be great to see the same thing happen in education.

libfree writes:

I have to second MattW. Professor Cowen is specific that many of the gains from the internet have only benefited the affluent and not the median households. I'm still not totally on board with Tyler's Stagnation but I don't see this as refuting it. These videos may improve the median family eventually but it doesn't change Tylers view that the last few decades haven't benefited the median family. Intuitively I feel like Tyler is wrong but I want to see better evidence.

Colin K writes:

@gwern
"Great. So Khan Academy may recover a constant factor of the economy.
How's it going to bring back 3-10% GDP growth...."

You know, if we figured out a pill that cost dollars a day and guaranteed every taker would live to at least 75 with nothing worse than a cold, it would be considered a great miracle. It would also pretty much bankrupt most of the healthcare industry, and possibly reduce GDP for some time. Interesting hypothetical I think.

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