The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri

The Future of Global Classrooms

More opportunities for learning outside of “brick and mortar” walls have emerged in recent years. The quality of these providers has a diverse range and should be well researched before committing to one agency or company. Two of the more intriguing pioneers in providing education on a global level are the Khan Academy and TED Talks.

Khan Academy began as a tutoring effort by Salman Khan, a graduate of MITand Harvard Business School. Once he began posting the videos to YouTube, their popularity quickly caught on and were being viewed by many learners, both young and old. In 2009, Khan devoted himself solely to the project, which is non-profit. Besides private donations, the academy is also the recipient of generous funding through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Google. With these funds, the academy will be able to create more courses which can be translated.

The core components of Khan Academy include:

The faculty is made up of diverse experts in their field, including the creators of YouTube, museum curators, and Forbes’ business leaders.

TED Talks is part of a private non-profit foundation called Sapling Foundation . Its history dates back to 1984 when a conference was held on technology and design. Since 1990, the annual conference draws in innovators, investors, and researchers. The format for the conference is that each presenter is limited to 18 minutes to present their idea in the most innovative way. Winners are awarded financial investments to put their ideas into action. Some of the more notable presenters have been Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Bono, Bill Gates, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Their ideas must have a “change the world” premise in order to be considered. Archives of these talks date back to 2006, providing engaging speakers a platform online. There are over 1000 talks on the topic of education. Recently, education  has become a focus for the foundation, which promises to bring further opportunities for learning.

In addition to these well-known organizations, there are also agencies continuing to break into the market, either as a non-profit or for profit. One example of a non-profit program is e-Learning for Kids. e-Learning for Kids dates back to 2004 as an all-volunteer staff providing courses for learners ages 5-12. The content is focused on math, science, language arts, technology, health, and life skills. Its goal is “to engage children at the level where they can perform successfully.” Their staff consists of educators. business professionals, and e-learning experts. Content on the site is reviewed by the panel before becoming part of the offered curriculum. The presentation of this website is more activity-driven, rather than entire courses. It could be used for supplemental learning or enrichment. Whereas TED Talks and Khan Academy are presented by experts in the field, e-Learning for Kids is a more traditional website for kids.

To gain more information about learning on the Internet, check out one of these books from our catalog:
A smart kid's guide to doing Internet research by David J. Jakubiak
A smart kid's guide to Internet privacy by David J. Jakubiak
CyberSafe : protecting and empowering kids in the digital world of texting, gaming, and social media by Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe
Too big to know : rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren't the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room by David Weinberger.

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