education | November 12, 2012

A 1,000% Return: Education Speaker Salman Khan On The Cover of Forbes

"The numbers get really crazy when you look at the impact per dollar," education speaker Salman Khan says of the work he's doing with the Khan Academy. "If you put any reasonable value on it, say $10 a year—and keep in mind we serve most students better than tutoring—and you are looking at, what, a 1,000% return?" This return, of course, refers to the impact that his work has educating millions of people across the planet. An accomplishment that, rightfully so, has landed him on the cover of Forbes magazine this month. In America alone, over $1.3 trillion is spent annually on education. Yet the quality of education is not improving and the United States doesn't rank nearly as well as they should globally. Clearly, there is a disconnect between the money being thrown into the system and the results those funds are garnering.

While Khan, author of The One World Schoolhouse, didn't start making online video tutorials to change the face of education, the progress he has made with the Khan Academy is beginning change the way people think about education. Beginning as a way to teach his overseas cousins some basic lessons, Khan's video lecture series on YouTube has exploded into much more than a simple study session between family members. In fact, he became so enraptured by the idea of digitizing the educational model and "flipping the classroom" that he eventually quit his day job to work on the project full-time. In his book, and his speeches, Khan shares his vision of a new way of learning where students aren't pushed forward before they're ready, and more time is spent on in-class collaborative learning.

Considering the Academy's runaway success, many business moguls are surprised that Khan never made the academy a for-profit—especially given Khan's business acumen as a former hedge fund analyst. "It's ironic...I would tell people that if [The Khan Academy] were a for-profit I would be on the cover of Forbes," Khan says in the magazine article. In this case, it appears as if Khan's work—for-profit or not—is simply too important to ignore.

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