Salman Khan – The Man Who Wants to Teach The World

September 5th is celebrated as Teachers Day in Indian sub-continent to commemorate India’s first vice-president and noble teacher Dr. Radhakrishnan’s birth anniversary. In view of upcoming Teacher’s Day for the year 2017, Kalam Fan Club is featuring Teachers of the technological era who have embraced technology to reach out to learning community across the globe through online educational media and video and audio podcasts.


As a part of this “Acharya Devo Bhavo” series, Khan Academy a prominent player in Massive Open Online Courses- (MOOC) is featured in this post with focus on its founder Mr. Salman Amin Khan’s journey in building Khan Academy which is considered as first ever World’s Free School and is competing on global market with giants like Coursera, EDx, Udemy, Udacity and many other MOOC players.

Salman Khan didn’t visualize a massive online academy when he first started teaching his cousin online using Yahoo notepad. But his dedication and innovative style of content delivery won him many students and had to inevitably migrate to YouTube to post his lessons and soon became world famous for his online teaching he ended up starting an online academy that his YouTube videos are viewed 1.2 Billion times in 2017 with teachers across the globe sharing content in Khan Academy in their specialized areas.

Educational Background

Salman Khan Parents are of Indian subcontinent origin. His father hailed from Barisal in current Bangladesh and his mother was from Murshidabad in West Bengal, India. He was born in a place called Metairie, Louisiana at the United States. He did his schooling from Grace King High school at Metairie; Later pursued his graduation from prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Here he earned Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics, electrical engineering and computer science in the year 1998. Further, he went on to pursue Master of Science in electrical and computer science engineering. Being a natural leader he has also played the role of president in his final year. Khan’s interest in business administration persuaded him to obtain MBA from Harvard Business School.

Initial Careers & Birth of a Teacher

Salman Khan had never dreamt of having a MOOC free school to cater to all the age groups of the globe. Similar to many Management Administrators he had taken up a summer internship with PARC and for nearly six years from 2003 to 2009 he worked as a hedge fund analyst for Connective Capital Management.

It was in late 2003, Khan got an assignment to teach Mathematics to his cousin Nadia online. He started using Yahoo Doodle Notepad to conduct his classes. His innovative style of delivering content effectively online soon made him popular among the known groups and thus his online classes gained demand. To help out relatives and friends with his tutoring he moved his entire classes to YouTube by creating an account on November 16, 2006. Thus Khan became a hobbyist teacher.

Massive Growth of Traffic to Videos

Khan’s YouTube videos gained instant popularity and the traffic grew rapidly. This prompted him to quit his formal job as a financial analyst and embrace Video Tutoring on a full-time basis in the year 2009. Khan focussed on popularizing the YouTube channel and named it as Khan Academy. His friend Josh Gefner joined him in this venture and later on, he succeeded in obtaining sponsorship from Mrs. Ann Doerr, wife of famous venture capitalist from Silicon Valley Mr. John Doerr. In first few years Khan Academy received approximately 460 million views. The popularity was equally distributed among both student community and non-student community.

Khan hastened his growth plan with a message “accelerate learning for students of all ages” and he even went a step ahead by writing a book titled— “The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined” to spread the message of free school across the globe.  Most importantly the online school massively changed the way rural sectors of Asia and Africa receive education and has today reached places where sending a competent teacher physically is still a mirage. In the year 2012, a separate Coach/Trainers-section was introduced by Khan Academy to facilitate teachers to collaborate with students. The popularity of Khan Academy teaching aids can be measured by one single instance, which depicts Microsoft Founder Bill Gates applauding Academy content by saying “I often recommend my children to learn from Khan Academy Videos.”

Current Scenario  

Today Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and personalized learning tools to enable learners to study in a self-paced manner. Also, the subjects ranging from history to computer programming are delivered with same quality. Academy has collaborated with institutions like NASA, The California Academy of Sciences, The Museum of Modern Art and MIT to fetch specialized contents. In the year 2017, the Khan Academy has managed to obtain approximately 1.2 billion active views.

Rewards & Recognitions

Today this young Tech-Education Entrepreneur has won accolades across the globe. Few prominent among them are here:

  • In The year 2015, Khan appeared at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with the Berkeley Forum
  • In The year 2013 for the 20th Annual Summer Celebration, Khan was interviewed by Henry Paulson at The Aspen Institute
  • In The year 2012 Khan appeared at the in GoogleTalks with its Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
  • In the year 2012 Khan has been interviewed by Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson at The Aspen Institute
  • Khan has been featured in prestigious media like San Francisco Chronicle, on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), National Public Radio, CNN, and CNN Money.
  • In September 2010, Google provided $2 million to support the creation of more online courses and to help Khan Academy in translating its core library into the multilingual platforms
  • In The year 2010, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided Khan Academy with $1.5 million to enhance its growth
  • In 2009, Khan Academy received the Microsoft Tech Award for education.

Education has transformed today with learner-centric approach coming to the foreground. Brick and Mortar based education system is giving way to the online based education system with the teacher playing the role of facilitator. In this changed scenario Teachers who are tech savvy and are adopting technology in their teaching methods are gaining importance. This Teacher’s Day series from Kalam fan Club aims at introducing such novel teachers to our readers.

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