5 things to know about sal khan

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*2016 SHRM Speaker

The founder of The Khan Academy, Sal Khan, has the background, experience, and dedication to the world of learning that has created a shift in perceptions about online education. During his SHRM keynote, The One World School House: Education Reimagined, Khan will share the story of how he founded the Khan Academy and how the organization is educating millions of people worldwide.

For an audience of HR leaders who are tasked with training and developing employees, his presentation will prove to not only be inspiring but useful as well. Here are five things you need to know about Khan before he delivers the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference closing general session keynote on June 22:

1. He’s no stranger to education

Khan earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1998, where he was also the senior class president. He later received his Master of Science from MIT and he holds a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. His early career was working as a financial analyst.

2. He’s not afraid to share his knowledge.

Khan wasn’t afraid to share what he’d learned during his 18 years of formal education. In late 2003, he began tutoring his cousin in mathematics. Using an online notepad, he provided lessons and instruction to them via the internet. The lessons were so helpful that soon Khan received tutoring requests from other relatives and friends. In 2006 he moved his popular lessons to YouTube.

“As soon as I put those first YouTube videos up, something interesting happened. Actually, a bunch of interesting things happened. The first was the feedback from my cousins. They told me that they preferred me on YouTube than in person,” said Khan during his TED Talk in 2011.

3. He’s creating disruptive innovation in education.

What began as private tutoring for his cousins has turned into much more. As of May 2016, the Khan Academy’s YouTube channel has more than 2.6 million subscribers, and the educational videos have been viewed more than 788 million times.

Visitors to the Khan Academy website receive a welcome message that states, “You only have to know one thing: You can learn anything.” Learners are also reassured that the site’s contents are “For free. For everyone. Forever.”

That message resonates with a lot of people. The Khan Academy has 26 million registered students who log in from around the world (190 countries to be exact) to learn from the tutorials and practice problems.

4. He’s generating social change.

In his TED Talk, Khan shared an excerpt from a letter he received from a parent whose 12-year-old son with autism was having difficulty with math, particularly decimals. In the letter, the parent says that thanks to “stumbling on your video on decimals…it got through.” Perhaps more importantly, the parent shared that the boy was now excited about math.

The feedback had an impact on Khan.

“You can imagine, here I was, an analyst at a hedge fund—it was very strange for me to do something of social value,” he said.

5. He’s one of Bill Gates’ favorite teachers.

Khan’s love for learning has inspired not only students, parents, and teachers, but business leaders as well.

“This guy is amazing,” Bill Gates said of Khan, according to an article in Fortune Magazine. The article reports that after finding out about Khan, Gates and his son reviewed multiple lessons, from algebra to biology.

“It is awesome how much he has done with very little in the way of resources,” he said.

I imagine that, like Gates, HR leaders at the SHRM Annual Conference will leave Khan’s presentation feeling motivated to not only put what they’ve learned during the conference to use, but also committed to promoting the power of a learning-centered organization. And who knows, maybe those same HR leaders will even feel inspired to complete a few geometry lessons on Khan Academy.

For more information on Sal’s SHRM session, check out our 2016 SHRM Guide for all the must-see sessions.

By liz sheffield
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