Khan Academy founder: Balance between in-person, online learning could be ‘silver lining’ of crisis

The forced closure of schools around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic could create a better balance between online and in-person learning going forward, Khan Academy founder Salman Khan said Thursday.

“What I think might change is that people are going to realize that you can lean on these types of online tools,” Khan said on “Closing Bell.”

“Even when we didn’t have school closures, their value was if I’m a teacher in a class with 30 students, how do I cater to their individual needs? … So I’m hoping that as we come out of this the silver lining will be we will understand how to leverage both in the best possible ways,” Khan continued. “How to blend them, if you will.”

Roughly 1.4 billion children around the world have seen their schools closed due to the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. A growing list of U.S. cities and states have announced that students will not return to physical classrooms for the rest of the academic year. 

Khan, whose nonprofit is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said physically going to school is still important for students due to the socialization benefits. 

Traffic has increased significantly to the Khan Academy websites, and new registration by parents is 20 times higher than normal, Khan said.

The organization has rolled out new resources for parents learning to teach at home, he said. 

“What we’ve been doing is trying to provide extra support,” Khan said. “We’ve published schedules for parents and teachers so they can understand how to structure the day. We’ve just published some learning plans so students can understand not just how to keep learning through the end of the school year, but how to leverage summers so that the learning doesn’t stop.”

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