A NEW way of learning arrives in France today with the launch of the Khan Academy website, a free online video-based teaching system that has been such a success in the US that schools are using it as teaching aid.
Released with support from the Bibliothèque sans Frontières open library, the Khan Academy offers mini-lessons that allow pupils to revise what they have learned in class.
The French version offers 250 10-minute maths lessons and this will be expanded to include 800 lessons by the end of the year. Each has some graphics with a voice-over giving information on the lesson.
By January 2014 the complete online bank of exercises and answers will be translated into French and put online, again for free.
Former hedge fund analyst Salman Khan came up with the system in 2004 while tutoring his niece in maths. He was in Boston and she was in New Orleans so he made up YouTube videos to help her with the short lessons.
She said she preferred the videos to live lessons because she could pause and rewind the video on sections that were difficult.
The online videos created a huge buzz and caught the eye of Bill Gates, whose approval led to Khan gaining $30million of funding by 2009 to put a whole curriculum of free video lessons online on topics, including physics, history, biology and many more.
Parents and pupils in France could benefit especially as French parents spend €2.2billion a year on after-school tutoring, one of the highest in Europe.
The site www.khan-academy.fr is funded in France by the Fondation Orange which has invested €320,000 in the project. Salman Khan is overseeing the project and has already said that he sees it being used as a tool to create a “world classroom” where a “child in Calcutta can give support to a child in Paris”.
There are thought to be six million regular users of the Khan videos worldwide, and the lessons contain 4,500 free videos.