The world-renowned Khan Academy will soon be piloted in select Idaho schools, with the help of Northwest Nazarene University and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. The Albertson Foundation will provide funding for the program.

Khan Academy was started by Salman Khan, a former hedge fund analyst, in 2008 with the intent to provide free education to anyone, anywhere, anytime. By 2012, Khan was one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people.

The worldwide, nonprofit academy is solely online and provides content in areas of math, finance, history and art through thousands of video tutorials and in many languages.

The worldwide, nonprofit academy is solely online and provides content in areas of math, finance, history and art through thousands of video tutorials and in many languages.

Eric Kellerer, director of the NNU Center of Innovation for Teaching and Learning, said NNU will track student improvement in math as the use of the Khan Academy is implemented, starting fall 2013. The academy will be an extra resource for teachers to supplement daily curriculum. Khan Academy will pilot in 25-30 primary and secondary schools statewide, who have applied for the program. Each school could receive anywhere from $10,000-$50,000 depending on the number of students and teachers.

“Primarily we have a group of faculty that are educators, from the education department (at NNU) that will be looking at the curriculum that (teachers) are already using and see how Khan can support that,” he said. “Khan is not a curriculum. It’s one more tool into the mix so they can help students have better achievement scores.”

Paula Kellerer, dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Counseling at NNU, said a major function of NNU will be to track and analyze test results. She said the team will look at Northwest Education Association’s MAP assessments, which schools already use, along with the Idaho Standards Achievement Test and teacher and student surveys. The hope is that another layer of assessment will not be added to track progress. If results prove positive, there is hope the same system, or a similar system may be used throughout Idaho to increase math proficiency.

Eric Kellerer said NNU will provide any training necessary for teachers to use the resource, but said it is as simple as simple gets. The site features more than 3,000 few-minute videos — from basic addition to trigonometry and calculus in math. For example, if a student is in need of assistance with fractions, he or she can start at any level.

“(Students) begin to walk through it with practice — an infinite number, really, of practice questions,” Eric Kellerer said. “It is a system that is intuitive enough, that it knows when you’ve mastered that skill. When you really mastered that skill, it will ask you to move on (to a more difficult skill).”

There is a coaching session, where a parent, teacher or mentor can see where a student is struggling. If the student sends his or her log in information to a “coach,” with permission, the student’s work is then shared.

“That’s a really powerful tool for our teachers in our classrooms,” he said. “They can help a student right where they’re needing it and not have to stop the whole classroom.”

He estimated about 50 percent of students entering college are not fully prepared in mathematics and Khan Academy is a “great remedial tool” to help them get up to speed.

He said education costs lots of money, and finding ways to lessen the cost should be a priority, something Khan Academy can do.

“If we’re going to make a difference in education, we have to be finding solutions that don’t cost schools an arm and a leg.”

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