In defining what drives him, Salman Khan, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Khan Academy, points to a fascination with human potential, and a belief that individuals of all backgrounds have both a hunger and the ability to learn.
Before launching his online educational movement, Mr. Khan, who has three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, observed that there were young people who wanted to be good students, but were failing to achieve because they were unable to digest the material in an intuitive way.
The starting point for Khan Academy came in 2004, when Mr. Khan began making online videos to remotely tutor his young cousin who was struggling with math. Today, Khan Academy offers more than 5,000 free instructional videos and interactive lessons, almost all created by him. These are offered worldwide in over 30 languages on a wide range of topics including mathematics, biology, physics, astronomy, economics, history and the arts. Mr. Khan's earliest videos used a simple blackboard style, and even as more complex subjects have been introduced, his unassuming approach and sense of humor have preserved Khan Academy’s accessibility and appeal for its online audience.
Mr. Khan's teaching approach, known as "mastery learning," allows each student to master a skill at his or her own pace before moving on to the next level. Online programs can be used independently by students or in collaboration with teachers, with real-time performance analytics tracking whether a student has mastered the concepts. On-demand lessons allow teachers to dive more deeply into subjects and spend more time working one on one with students or providing small group instruction.
A pioneer in the use of online technology for education, Mr. Kahn is removing barriers to learning and changing the one-size-fits-all model for instruction by providing a "free world-class education for anyone anywhere."