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Next On Deck For Khan Academy: Better Diagnostics And Internationalization

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Two of the top things on Khan’s priority list for the next fall are internationalization and diagnostics. The Khan Academy has pioneered ways of measuring progress, to help ensure that students don’t develop a “Swiss Cheese”-like base of knowledge with different weak areas.

But he acknowledged the site isn’t as good at telling students where they should begin. What if they’re competent at certain things like logarithms but terribly behind in trigonometry?

“One of the biggest complaints we get is that people don’t know where to start. By this August, we should have good diagnostics where people can figure out where they stand,” he said.

I agree -- navigation on Khan's site is a mess.

Khaaaaan gif

Khaaaaan gif

Khaaaaan gif

He’s personally interested in Carol Dweck’s theories around fostering a growth-centered mentality in children and students. Her research is the basis for a series of media stories and discussions around how much you should praise children and whether you should attribute their success to persistence or innate capabilities. She’s found that children who internalize not innate talent, but rather diligence, tend to do better one the longer-run. He also said that the Khan Academy will be re-architecting some of the game mechanics and rewards to help with retention.

While he thinks that more traditional forms of diagnostics like standardized tests aren’t all bad, they’re limited.

“Standardized testing by itself isn’t a horrible thing. They’re not going to be testing every dimension though,” he said.

He envisions a future where an admissions officer might not only look at grades and SAT tests, but also whether students have a record of trying over and over again even when they don’t get it right away.

“If I was an admissions officer in the not too far off future, you’d look at the narrative of data: Who showed a strong degree of perseverance?” he said.

Standardized tests can demonstrate foundational skills, not how high or how far you can go.

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