Practice And Perseverance Can Help In Growing Intelligence

In an exclusive interview with BW Education, Sandeep Bapna, MD -Khan Academy India discusses various integral issues relating to teacher and technology.

Sandeep Bapna, MD Khan Academy

Q. How smart classrooms are changing the face of education?

Teachers have always known that meeting the individual needs of each student accelerates learning. And they have been heroic in their efforts to do this in classrooms of 30 or more students at a time. However, it’s challenging for even the most passionate teacher to meet the needs of every student. Today, teachers can finally use technology to begin to deliver on the long-held dream of personalized learning for every student. With tools like Khan Academy’s mastery learning system, students can learn at their own pace. They progress through questions and quizzes at just the right level for them. They get feedback as they learn and help when they need it most. Teachers track student progress, identify gaps and give students one-on-one attention to help them succeed. 

Q. How has technology changed the roles of a teacher and a student?

We think technology can lead to more one-on-one interaction between teacher and student (not less). For example, in a classroom that uses our mastery learning system, teachers get information and insights to provide personalized instruction for every student. They’re able to better meet the needs of every student and build deeper connections with their students. 

As students use the mastery learning system on Khan Academy, their progress is visible to both themselves and their teacher. Khan Academy provides encouraging feedback throughout the learning process, and students become active drivers of their own education. 

Q. How various types of Mobile apps are making Mathematics exciting?

We recently launched Khan Academy Kids, a free app for children ages two to five. Khan Academy Kids combines subjects like math with creative activities like drawing and storytelling.  Animated characters guide children through educational materials at the right level for them.  As they learn, kids collect bugs, hats, and toys for their favorite characters. 

Q. How LearnStorm helps students master core academic subjects and builds student confidence?

LearnStorm celebrates the “growth mindset,” the belief that anyone can build and grow their intelligence through practice and perseverance.  Many people are held back not by their innate ability, but by their mindset. They think intelligence is fixed, but it isn’t. Your brain is like a muscle. The more you use it and struggle, the more it grows.

As students progress through LearnStorm, they learn about the growth mindset. They complete assignments from their teacher and do practice problems. LearnStorm has a rewards system that has students across the globe literally leaping out of their chairs, no matter where they are in their educational journey. 

In pilots of LearnStorm, 96% of students reported their learning confidence increased using Khan Academy.

Q. Why there is a need for recreating the content in local languages?

We believe language should not be a barrier in learning math and science. Our objective is to accelerate the development and delivery of locally relevant education resources to the Indian learners, aligned to curriculum. We are working towards making Khan Academy content available in multiple languages using three different models - in-house efforts (eg bilingual Hindi-English), partnerships with private foundations (eg Hindi, Gujarati, Bangla) and public private partnerships as in the case of Kannada.  

Q. How mobile apps help in understanding basic mathematical concepts through definitions, illustrated formulae, and concepts?

A combination of bite-sized lessons, interactive exercises, and gamified mechanics delivered on mobile has the potential to meet the needs of the learners at the time they need it. For instance, Khan Academy’s app and entire content on it is completely free. Videos have been optimized for low bandwidth conditions. We have redesigned our interactive exercises to work on the mobile app and mobile web. Exercises have step by step solutions and recommended videos for students feeling stuck. 

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