Khan’s Big Contribution Will Be Competency-Based Learning

Carrie Morgridge kicked off the 4th Sharefair at the University of Denver’s Richie Center with a description of the benefits of blended learning.  The Morgridge Family Foundation has been a big supporter of DU and the adoption of personalized learning technology by Colorado and Florida schools.
Carrie introduced Sal Khan whose videos have been an important contribution to global learning.  His 3100 videos receive about 6 million views every month.  But in the long run, his most important contribution may be his leadership in promoting the shift to personalized competency-based learning.
Sal describes the use of hierarchical learning maps to ensure comprehensive learning.  A logical sequence of instruction is common in music where students progress as they demonstrate mastery.  Karate has a series of belts that signify demonstrated mastery.  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you need to show what you can do to progress.
Khan uses building a house an example of the importance of building a strong foundation—you wouldn’t build a house on a base that is 70% sound.  If you keep adding floors that are structurally unsound but the time you get to the fourth floor you have a building that is dangerous.  The same is true for math, if we keep pushing kids through the system without strong foundational skills, they will fail to grasp higher order concepts.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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