Posted by Danielle Zhang on October 20, 2015
He has a voice heard all around the world. From classrooms in Mongolia to personal computers in the United States, Salman Khan, founder of online education nonprofit Khan Academy
, has impacted 32 million students in 190 countries through his free video tutorials on subjects ranging from geometry to European history. On October 15, Khan brought his message of free, quality education to an audience of more than 400 University of Chicago students, alumni, and staff.
At the event, which was spearheaded by Chicago Booth’s Social Enterprise Initiative
and Dougan Scholars Certificate Program
, students finally put a face to the voice that guided them through arduous finals weeks and two a.m. study sessions. When asked whether or not they had used Khan Academy before, the audience responded with raised hands and applause.
Khan began with a glimpse into his early career as a hedge fund analyst and then launched into a passionate tale about his successes and failures on the road to entrepreneurship. Khan discovered his passion for teaching when he helped his then-12-year-old cousin Nadia with math. The one-on-one tutoring sessions quickly grew into larger group meetings with many cousins, then into a dedicated YouTube audience, and finally into an established online community of registered Khan Academy students. In defense of Khan Academy’s use of YouTube for hosting videos, Khan jokes that the viral video platform can be used not only for “cats playing piano,” but also for learning math at a personal pace.
In addition to walking audience members through the growth of his nonprofit, Khan also offered insights into the futures of both Khan Academy and global education. When Khan Academy first hit the ground running, Silicon Valley-based investor Ann Doerr asked Khan, “What is your goal here?” Khan resolutely responded, “I want to provide free, world-class education for anyone anywhere.” On Thursday, he emphasized this point and espoused his belief that education is a fundamental human right regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic condition. As Khan Academy develops, Khan hopes to expand further into developing countries, turning his platform into tool for students all around the world.—Danielle Zhang