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A future of active, mastery-based learning.

Inspired by his success in remotely tutoring his 12-year-old cousin in math, Sal Khan launched Khan Academy, a free online education platform used by students from 190 countries around the globe.

Khan, author of The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined and who teaches humanities and sciences at the Khan Lab School in California, recently delivered the keynote at the 2019 Future of Education Technology Conference.

The following is an excerpt from an exclusive interview. To read the full interview, visit

Your idea of education in the future is an environment where software is instrumental in tracking student progress, letter grades are eliminated and students engage in creative work. The classroom is interactive and hands-on, too. How can district administrators move in this direction?

It's taken me and the Khan Academy longer to realize this, but not everyone can easily move to a mastery-based, self-paced learning environment. That's hard to do overnight. We have many efficacy studies for that type of model, and they're really robust, but change is hard.

More recently, we're seeing that if students put 30 minutes to an hour per week--or one class period per week--toward software-based, self-paced learning, schools will see a 20 to 30 percent greater-than-expected gain on state assessments. That's exciting because it's very doable in mainstream classrooms.

We tell schools to give students 30 to 60 minutes of Khan Academy per week, with teachers doing traditional curriculum four days per week. You're going to see a pretty dramatic improvement. You'll get the best of both worlds.

To increase student achievement, you also propose no-tech solutions, such as peer-to-peer mentoring. How can educators realize this vision?

A lot of this stuff has nothing to do with technology. Concepts such as reimagining summer breaks to resolve some of the problems that summer vacations create don't require technology.

The big idea in the book centers around letting every student learn at their own time and pace, having differentiation, and requiring mastery of concepts before moving on. Once this model is in place, it unlocks what happens in the physical classroom--you get more human time and interaction between students and teachers.

You don't want to eliminate standardized testing, but you do recommend changing the content every year and including richer tasks such as open-ended questions. How can technology be leveraged to improve assessment and limit the appeal of test prep?

Assessment is not inherently bad; you need some type of measuring stick. The problem is that you're only measuring one dimension of a student with conventional assessments. It's important that test results are kept in context.

With the traditional standardized test, it's about how a student performs in that moment. But something like Khan Academy can determine how they engage with a task over a long period of time. It can also help gauge a student's resilience, grit and how they react when getting a wrong answer.

If Khan Academy can start taking on some of the foundational practice and instruction, it should hopefully liberate the teachers and class time to do more higher-order tasks. Khan Academy can help teach the more traditional concepts and skills, so teachers don't have to assign and grade them as much.

You also believe education should provide opportunities for students to engage in the arts, including music and robotics, and also measure student creativity. Have your views changed since launching a school?

One of the reasons why we started the Lab School was because it's one thing to write about it, and it's another thing to experience it. It's all about creating space for creativity.

Now that I run a school, I see that some of the stuff is not as easy to accomplish compared to how it sounds theoretically. None of my views on the ideas have changed, but the hardest part is mindset change because you have a lot of incredible teachers who have had so much put on them for so long. And students who have been in a traditional education model have been told--and almost forced--to do things. Both have been stripped of their freedom to create.

Emily Ann Brown is associate editor.

Caption: INSPIRING WORDS--Sal Khan delivered the keynote address at FETC 2019.
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Title Annotation:Q&A / Sal Khan
Author:Brown, Emily Ann
Publication:District Administration
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Mar 1, 2019
Previous Article:FETC 2019.
Next Article:Improving student achievement every day: Data-driven teaching increases proficiency.

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