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BitTorrent and Khan Academy To Distribute Education

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the racing-to-zero-cost-education dept.

Education 139

drDugan writes "BitTorrent, Inc. announced this morning that they have launched a partnership with the Khan Academy to distribute open education videos. They launched with more than 2,000 videos, covering high school and college level curriculum, across science, math, history, finance and test prep. All of the videos are free to download and open licensed with Creative Commons."

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139 comments

FIRST! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179638)

KHAAAAAAN!

Re:FIRST! (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179858)

KHAAAAAAN!

Or, for people under 30, there's Two Kirks, a Khan, and a Pizza Place [adultswim.com] .

(Note: being way, WAY over 30 myself - my first thought was "KHAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!!" as well.)

(Note 2: No, actually I'm lying. My first thought was of Ghengis Khan, since he was my contemporary)

(Note 3: Sorry, that wasn't quite true. I hung out with his kids, though. They got me in a lot of trouble! Ah, the memories....)

Proof... (3, Insightful)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179662)

that bittorrent can be used for legit purposes. Hopefully as a side benifit, this will make it harder for the MPAA crowd to villify these types of file sharing networks.

Re:Proof... (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179950)

It's all a ploy by the superhumans to undermine the US economy. The *AAs are our only remaining hope. Let's hope Congress will do the right thing and empower them to put an end to the BT villainy that has persisted for too long.

Re:Proof... (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180020)

OK, that's great and I highly encourage it. But just for my own edification -- why would I choose to download this stuff from bittorrent when I can just go get it on-demand from a unicast stream?

I'm sure there will be corner cases where this proves very useful, and should free providers decide to cut services and make it difficult for Kahn to publish, then it will definitely come in handy, but... I'm failing to see the "big deal" here.

Re:Proof... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180102)

Khan Academy is distributing a large number of moderately large files (short videos, so not huge) to a lot of users, which means they probably have rather high bandwidth costs. Downloading from them costs them money. Downloading from BitTorrent doesn't, and should not be much, if at all, slower if there are enough seeds.

Re:Proof... (2)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180360)

Places like rural Pakistani schools (where the Khan academy is aiming for etc.) don't really have broadband. If you can torrent it from a cybercafe and then bring it with you to a classroom on a USB stick, that's great.

Re:Proof... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180506)

I think the idea is to enable non-profit organizations to download the source videos, put them on CDs/DVDs or what have you, and then distribute them to parts of the world that don't have internet access. You have to remember that there are about 1.5 billion people with internet access, which means you're excluding more than 3/4 of the world's population when you only offer online streaming. It also gives you the ability to convert them to DVD video, which means you don't even need a computer to view them.

For people like you and me, this isn't really news... but as far as furthering Khan's goal of becoming "the free classroom for the World," it's an important step.

Re:Proof... (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181550)

This is the first time I've thought, "wow, I could set up BitTorrent for a week/month and fill up a drive of stuff that will have lasting value to my family". Why stream it on demand, if you can download it ahead of time, effectively having a local cache that will not lose its educational value in five or likely even ten years?

Phone-home DRM (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182026)

Why stream it on demand, if you can download it ahead of time, effectively having a local cache that will not lose its educational value in five or likely even ten years?

When the subject is art appreciation, a Free textbook can teach only about works whose authors died before January 1, 1941. Anything newer, and the copyright owners of the works discussed in the textbook will demand phone-home DRM.

Re:Proof... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35182712)

Offline use.......

Re:Proof... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35183162)

...why would I choose to download this stuff from bittorrent when I can just go get it on-demand from a unicast stream?...

Pervasive, resilient file retention works better with a distributed system. Many copies distributed across many networks make it far more difficult to lose the information due to catastrophic hardware failure, or exertion of economic/political will, on a centralized system.

Re:Proof... (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35183402)

I have 3 kids using his stuff now. All different ages and levels, so each kid has to download (stream) as they need it. If my internet goes flaky, we have issues. If it's on my server, I'm laughing.

Khan rocks. He has helped my kids advance their mathematics skills considerably in the 2 months that we have been using his academy.

Re:Proof... (3, Insightful)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180078)

that bittorrent can be used for legit purposes. Hopefully as a side benifit, this will make it harder for the MPAA crowd to villify these types of file sharing networks.

Though the threat to private Colleges and Universities that free learning poses could actually further fund and empower the MPAA.

Re:Proof... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35183014)

My top tier private university has, for years, been funding free (as in both), online, and written by top professors textbooks. MIT and Stanford regularly post semester long videos of courses for free. I don't think they're as worried as you think they are... Maybe University of Phoenix?

Re:Proof... (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181254)

Proof that bittorrent can be used for legit purposes. Hopefully as a side benifit, this will make it harder for the MPAA crowd to villify these types of file sharing networks.

Yes, we know [slackware.com] .

The MPAA/RIAA/BPI etc. have chosen to ignore the established legitimate uses for BitTorrent and other P2P technologies. They would also prefer to pretend the Free Software, Open Source, Creative Commons and all of those other free-as-in-speech, free-as-in-freedom, independent, do-it-for-ourselves-thank-you-very-much stuff does not exist.

They think that by not mentioning any of this that "normal people" will remain ignorant.

Re:Proof... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182632)

They think that by not mentioning any of this that "normal people" will remain ignorant.

And it seems to work, too. I've come across quite a few people on random websites that believed that bittorrent is used entirely by 'pirates' (technologically illiterate people, of course). Not only were they ignorant, but they were stubborn in holding onto this belief.

Human video projectors (3, Interesting)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179686)

So why do we have all these highly intelligent expensive professors wasting their time standing in front of hundreds of students in a lecture hall reciting their teaching script like a human video projector? Let the best lecturers in the country make videos and let the students send in questions and assemble a frequently asked questions list and then put those professors to work doing research for the benefit of humanity.

Re:Human video projectors (4, Insightful)

Lazareth (1756336) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179820)

Because teaching itself both builds character and strengthen your knowledge in your field. Because that human "video projector" is a human, readily able to take questions at any given time during the lecture.

I'm not saying anything against video lectures. These things are great and it helps to open up and spread information around for the benefit of all. But they're not the same thing. They can be a substitute, but they're not for everybody. Some of use need those human video projectors to get through our education. Some of use need a mix of both.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179902)

And some of US need english teachers.

Sorry, just had to. Just ignore.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180718)

English is a proper noun and should be capitalized accordingly.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

GofG (1288820) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181088)

Actually, in this instance, it's an adjective modifying "teachers".

Re:Human video projectors (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182326)

It's still a noun, although functioning as an adjective, not a formal adjective. Specifically, they don't have its major characteristic: the ability to be compared.

(...) traditional grammars recognize as adjectives other forms which are not formally adjectives but may modify nouns.

-- The English Language: From Sound to Sense

Put english on the ball (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182098)

English is a proper noun and should be capitalized accordingly.

Usually, yes. But "english" is lowercase when you're teaching someone how to play billiards.

Re:Human video projectors (2)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180402)

I think the professor's knowledge would be strengthened more by studying deeper or more broadly or by research, rather than designing or delivering lectures. And professors could be made available to answer questions at any given time that students are watching the videos as well. Many questions should not distract and waste the time of many other students anyway. If the question is a good question, it should be included in the FAQ or incorporated into the video lecture. Why do you need a live lecturer to get through your education?

Some say that meeting people is a main benefit of college. That is surely a major benefit. But isn't there plenty of less expensive ways that don't waste the lives of talented professors and the money of poor students and parents? Clubs, internet forums, professional societies, etc.

I suspect one of the main purposes of regularly scheduled classes is just to get people to do the learning that they might otherwise never get around to. An externally imposed discipline. I haven't thought of any obvious alternative solution to that, but maybe with some kind of formal structure and time limits, it wouldn't be too big a problem.

Re:Human video projectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181056)

That is silly.

Knowledge is not linear, and while the material in your textbook may be neatly numbered in sequential chapters the reality is that research and discovery are profoundly random. Teaching and presentation are just as useful to me as they are to students for a number of reasons:
(1) I have to organize and justify my thoughts. Teaching established concepts helps keep the material fresh in my mind, and further helps me to organize our new findings in a way that can be better understood and utilized.
(2) It provides a starting point to tie new discoveries in to old information. Our body of knowledge, even at its dryest, is constantly being reshuffled. One might recycle 80% of lecture on Newton's laws, but that timely 20% lets us bring in news of the day to help students relate, or to work in new discoveries that the text and 'that lecture recorded a while back' simply can't address.
(3) Students ask the best questions. Questions that are well grounded, eager, intelligent, and earnest. The best days are when your mind is on fire because someone asked you a question that really made you hash out an idea and those days invariably drive you ask more questions yourself.

Now I won't discount the value of these recordings, Feynman's lectures from NZ are a prime example of knowledge that can be appreciated and learned from years later. But we should consider these as another tool, suited for some more than others depending on learning style, and likewise suited for some topics more than others. Like most on Slashdot I learned the bulk of my knowledge by RTFM, but the insights from reviewing that material with my professors have proven invaluable.

Re:Human video projectors (2)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182928)

You're concentrating on the benefits of lecturing but not fairly balancing the costs. If you're doing a good job for your students, then you're spending a huge number of hours designing and reciting lectures. One of the things that is highly beneficial for research is for researchers to expand their knowledge into quite different fields, e.g. a physicist studying sociology for a change. Such expansion of knowledge would likely be of greater benefit than reviewing and explaining what you already know to some students who can get it explained from somewhere else. There are also lots of journal articles and other writings in your own field that would be useful to read and would expand your mind, but nobody has time to read all the good ones. Researchers in every field could benefit greatly from increased mastery of the tools of their field such as a physicist studying more computer science, math, or electrical engineering. Questions from students and discussion with professors can be stimulating and educational, but I didn't suggest that communication stop, I just suggest that lectures are an inefficient way to facilitate such communication. Sure lecturing and teaching has considerable benefits, but those benefits are small compared to the alternatives.

Re:Human video projectors (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181148)

Have you tried explaining upper-level concepts to lower-level students? It is very hard, and requires you to really think about the relationships between things. I would argue it is actually a benefit to teach in the exact subject area you are researching, as it would help clarify concepts to yourself as you go along. And it does actually happen that a student asks a question that you've never considered before (either a completely new idea, or something you personally glossed over but the student caught), and thus both student and teacher learn simultaneously. I think its absolutely a good idea to have researchers come down from their towers and think about the foundations of their work. It's too easy to get wrapped up in upper-level concepts and forget what you set out to do and how it ties in with everything else.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180778)

Professors would continue to mentor graduate students and wouldn't be forbidden to give open lectures about topics that really interest them. TAs working in shifts could respond through online chats about recorded material. Then professors might have time to teach English-style tutorials with one or a few intermediate students.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180816)

I don't disagree that teaching makes professors stronger. But at the same time, we could lower the cost of education while educating far more people if we had more holograms like Alfred Lanning from I, Robot.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

bhiestand (157373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35183608)

I don't disagree that teaching makes professors stronger. But at the same time, we could lower the cost of education while educating far more people if we had more holograms like Alfred Lanning from I, Robot.

You forget the part where quality is also decreased. The vast majority of my professors have been far better than the best khan academy videos. Oddly enough, my most helpful professors were actually the best researchers as well... top names in the field who took the time to interact with students, even in large lecture halls.

Re:Human video projectors (2)

Decessus (835669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179824)

I think you are suggesting that we should do away with colleges and universities. If that's the case, then I'm going to have to disagree with you. I'm currently a college student and while I think it's overly expensive, I do think it is valuable nonetheless. What I get from college is more than just listening to lectures and doing homework. I get the opportunity to interact with highly intelligent people who specialize in the kind of work that I would someday like to do. I also get to interact with a wide variety of people who share the same interests that I do through student organizations. These opportunities would be lost, for the worse in my opinion, if college were to be completely eliminated.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179886)

I think you are suggesting that we should do away with colleges and universities. If that's the case, then I'm going to have to disagree with you. I'm currently a college student and while I think it's overly expensive, I do think it is valuable nonetheless. What I get from college is more than just listening to lectures and doing homework. I get the opportunity to interact with highly intelligent people who specialize in the kind of work that I would someday like to do. I also get to interact with a wide variety of people who share the same interests that I do through student organizations. These opportunities would be lost, for the worse in my opinion, if college were to be completely eliminated.

Exactly. Where would all those 18 year old coeds go to get drunk and have threesomes with random strangers?

Re:Human video projectors (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179932)

Moo.

Re:Human video projectors (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179936)

I think you are suggesting that we should do away with colleges and universities. If that's the case, then I'm going to have to disagree with you. I'm currently a college student and while I think it's overly expensive, I do think it is valuable nonetheless. What I get from college is more than just listening to lectures and doing homework. I get the opportunity to interact with highly intelligent people who specialize in the kind of work that I would someday like to do. I also get to interact with a wide variety of people who share the same interests that I do through student organizations. These opportunities would be lost, for the worse in my opinion, if college were to be completely eliminated.

Human interaction? You're interacting with humans right now. The internet is filled with people who are intelligent and open to conversation (and vice versa, as in college).

Your tuition for college essentially pays for an evaluation/validation of your knowledge (your degree) and a presentation of information (professor lectures + powerpoints) if you wanted to get down to it. Office hours are wholly dependent on institute police. I'm also a college student as well.

Re:Human video projectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180120)

Face to face interaction is different than digital interaction. College is not about the validation of your knowledge, but a stepping stone to things you want to do in the future. If you use your time in college properly, you will come away with a base network of contacts that will help in your future endeavors. The education you receive is not particularly unique, but if you've made the right choice in university you can get plugged in to groups you otherwise would not be able to. College, like life, is about networking.

And yes, even with your fellow students. Today they are just like you, ten years from now they could open doors.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180200)

Face to face interaction is different than digital interaction. College is not about the validation of your knowledge, but a stepping stone to things you want to do in the future. If you use your time in college properly, you will come away with a base network of contacts that will help in your future endeavors. The education you receive is not particularly unique, but if you've made the right choice in university you can get plugged in to groups you otherwise would not be able to. College, like life, is about networking.

And yes, even with your fellow students. Today they are just like you, ten years from now they could open doors.

That's not right, people shouldn't be going college for all the friends they can be making that could raise their social status. They shouldn't wholly rely on a system where they look try to get friends in high places. People ought to earn their careers by their merits and deeds. Their knowledge and resume.

Of course face to face interaction is nice and has differences from digital interaction, and making friends in college is a great thing, but we do it for the people not the places they can take us. And again, we don't need to be face-to-face to make lasting connections. Plenty of people have made great friendships/relationships online without having met up front intially or possibly at all.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180600)

Thats nice. In the real world knowing someone who works in the same field as you do can mean the difference between walking into your new office/cubicle 3 weeks after graduation or spending 18 months flipping burgers while you send out your resume to couple thousands of shops all over the US.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Decessus (835669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180210)

Yes, I'm interacting with humans right now, but you would agree that social interaction over the internet is different than social interaction in person, right?

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180392)

Different does not mean better. Your original argument implied that interaction fully justified the existence of colleges. I was simply saying that this interaction isn't as precious as I take it you mean to be. Chance meetings aside, I think the merit of college is the context. Everyone is there for a reason, a purpose, and a drive. And we are all willing to plunge ourselves in debt to get what we want.

That's what I value as a college student. My interactions are great, but I can find it online. What I cannot find online is a dedicated community of people I know who will follow through my path until the end.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Decessus (835669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180862)

I agree that different does not necessarily mean better. It wasn't my intention to imply otherwise. My original argument was meant to be against the idea that college is a waste of time because it's just a bunch of professors standing in front of a lecture hall full of students. I was merely using the social interactions that one experiences as an example of something else that can be gained by attending college. There are certainly other benefits to going to college that I think justify their existence.

Re:Human video projectors (2)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180894)

Yes, interactions online aren't the same as social interactions. Online interactions are more valuable because it's easier and more convenient for me to interact with those at my intelligence level and with the same goals than those I might find in my own geographic area. In-person interactions are limited by geography, time constraints, etc. Online interactions have no such issues.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181220)

maybe, but then you have trolls, people online who fake having knowledge and credibility, etc. Forums are a terrible place to learn and youtube is definitely not the peer-reviewed science that journals and actual college work can put out.

Re:Human video projectors (2)

Decessus (835669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181380)

Those are some of the advantages that online interactions have over face to face interactions, although I disagree with a couple of the ones you listed which I'll get to shortly. However, face to face interactions also have advantages that online interactions do not have. Face to face interactions allow instant feedback. When I post something on Slashdot or a similar forum, at the very least I have to wait a few minutes for a response and often times I have to wait longer or I simply don't get a response back at all. This instant feedback leads to an overall flow of back and forth conversation which is also an advantage that face to face interactions have over online interactions.

One of the advantages that you listed for online interactions is that it is easier and more convenient to interact with those of similar intelligence levels. I would argue that unless a person is uncommonly gifted, they should not have trouble finding people who are their intellectual equals in a college environment. At a larger university that has thousands of students, I also don't see how time would be that much of an advantage. My university has 50,000 students and I can go on campus at any time of the day or night and find people who are studying or otherwise involved in academic work.

Again though, I would like to reiterate that I do not think online interactions are worthless or even less valuable than face to face interactions. I simply think they are different and each one is valuable for different reasons. And in relation to my original post, I think face to face interactions as well as other reasons justify the existence of colleges and universities.

Re:Human video projectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35181244)

Internet interaction is not the same as real person interaction, especially in science and engineering disciplines. You need to be able to work in a lab-type environment and bounce ideas off of an instructor, and if nothing else, OBSERVE an instructor solving problems to learn a method of attack on problems in science and engineering. Basic calculus, sure, we can learn in a video set of examples for the most part. Higher math? There's an art to designing proofs that you need to work real time with professors to learn how to do. Physics and chemistry and engineering? Working in a lab under the direction of a professor/post-doc and shadowing that person teaches you proper laboratory protocols, and seeing how a professional deals with random problems as they occur real-time is invaluable, as it really taps into their experience and gives you ideas of what to expect.

Now granted not all majors might need this but if you are in these types of majors, I highly recommend you take advantage of being on campus and go intern with someone in your field of interest, and soak up their real-world experience.

Re:Human video projectors (2)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180064)

. I get the opportunity to interact with highly intelligent people who specialize in the kind of work that I would someday like to do. I also get to interact with a wide variety of people who share the same interests that I do through student organizations. These opportunities would be lost, for the worse in my opinion, if college were to be completely eliminated.

Join a professional organization(IEEE or similar), a hackerspace, or something like FIRST. Go to cons.

Even if you're in the middle of nowhere, you can livestream your workbench and dedicate a monitor to other people's streams to create a virtual hackerspace. You can't share tools as easily, but you can get live advice and encouragement. At the very least, find a forum more directly related to your interests than slashdot, post your projects and ask for comments.

Re:Human video projectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180976)

That's not what he's suggesting at all but nice strawman.

He's suggesting we increase the market share of movie theaters to supplement live performances of Shakespeare.

Welcome to the 20th Century. It's much less disruptive to the class for the teacher to be skyping/google talking with individual students from the projector booth than it is to have them stop their lecture to answer questions.

The teacher can multi-screen with a second monitor and drag chat windows on to the projector display if the question would be valuable to other students.

Assuming 60% lecture, 40% Q/A ratios with teachers, this is essentially a 40% productivity increase.

As time goes on, the expense of school facilities can be greatly reduced as a result. No more Chalk/Dry Erase Markers. No more paper.

In the long run, schools won't need to expand their campus' nearly as frequently as most students who value their time will elect to participate in class from their home computer. The students who want to learn can be effectively segregated from the disruptive students who are there to socialize and screw off(being in college you can appreciate how much nicer this is in contrast to K-12 compulsory education).

Eventually, K-12 can be replaced entirely as daycare centers with minimum wage babysitters. Classes will be conducted 100% via internet eliminating facilities costs and greatly reducing administrative costs.

As a result, Teacher's salaries can be increased, and you'll eventually see a free market develop where the best teachers get the most attendance to their lectures, and all other "classrooms" will function more as 1 on 1 instruction with tutors.

It would look a lot like online poker with statistics about those in attendance(IQ, GPA, Questions Per Minute, Average Answer Delay/Length etc.). Mobility of students would greatly increase and you'd see steady increases in GPA. Even the slow students would be careful to fully understand the basics by moving at a slower pace before moving on to the next subject.

In this way, no student would fall through the cracks. Rather than initial misunderstandings snowballing as they continue to hamstring their future ability to learn exacerbated by a pace which is faster than they can keep up with, they can simply put in an extra half hour a day to stay competitive.

Meanwhile, the duration of attendance and length of lectures would be proportional to understanding. A highly intelligent student would be able to take the competency exam at the very beginning of a lecture on a subject that they had already studied on Wikipedia.

Statistics could be gathered constantly on student performance allowing quantitative data to shape and improve curriculum.
Text books would never be out of date as the cost of publishing would be non-existent.
The cost? Every student gets a $300 netbook.

You'd have middle school-ers studying statistics and using matlab in such an environment.

As for the problem students at daycare? Lock them in a dark broom closet with the netbook until they can pass the competency exam.

Re:Human video projectors (3, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179908)

Because when they do that, they cease to be expensive.

Let's face it, most classes could be taught by lecture with a live human audience for the first recording (those people will get most of the obvious questions that the professor answers over and over and over and over) and teaching assistants.

But, then you wouldn't need the professor again.

It's like newspaper columnists. When we had local papers you needed them.

But with national news media available, you really only need a dozen or so columnists in each area. Every one else is mostly redundant.

You could literally have a dozen college calculus teachers in the entire world.

Lowering the cost of providing calculus by 90%.

Same for most other undergraduate courses.

Only courses where the students actually need to talk interactively with the professor (very few) need human professors.

Re:Human video projectors (1, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179940)

Below university level (Up to eighteen years old) the majority of the cost of schooling isn't really in education. It's in keeping the little brats under control. Enough staff to watch them, break up the fights, keep them paying attention to learning rather than playing games, chatting or stareing into space. Then the cost of assessment, testing and such - because it's not enough to understand a subject. The pupils also need to be able to prove their understanding in the easily-demonstrated and consistant form of exam results, in order to win jobs.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180118)

My calculus class in college wasn't a lecture class, thank goodness. We were able to interact with the prof, ask questions during the lesson, and learned much more (and quicker) for all that.

A video lecture class on calculus would be helpful, but not nearly as helpful as having the professor interact right there to the 20 or so students in the room.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180474)

I don't know about you, but I couldn't learn calculus by just picking up a book or watching a video. I needed interaction with a teacher to hammer out the fine points.

Also, there's nothing more boring in the world than watching a canned lecture. There are students out there who need the interaction with a teacher just to stay engaged in the class in the first place.

Not to mention, if there isn't a teacher present, who's going to stop all the spit balls from flying?

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180554)

I'm talking college, not high school.

99% of students never ask the professor a question.

The 1% who do basically ask the exact same questions.

For an example of the concept done well, check out the following.

http://www.justiceharvard.org/ [justiceharvard.org]

I found it compelling and watched every episode, did some of the side reading, and I'm not even in college any more.

Claim that TV is boring (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182948)

Also, there's nothing more boring in the world than watching a canned lecture.

That sounds to me like you're claiming that noninteractive TV is boring. Yet in fact, it isn't boring to the majority, or it wouldn't draw advertisers. It's all in the presentation: see Beakman, Bill Nye, or anything on Discovery Networks.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

Minthos (1470867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180032)

I'm a cs student and I've watched video lectures as well as attended live lectures. Just like live music and recorded music, there's a place for both to coexist. From a student's perspective: Pro-live: I can ask questions I'm more inclined to pay attention I have to get out of bed I meet other students I meet professors the audio and video quality is (usually) better Pro-recorded: I can schedule lectures according to my life, instead of the opposite I have a wider selection of professors and lectures to choose from (let's admit it, some professors just suck at teaching) I can pause when I want I can skip the boring parts I can repeat the confusing parts To sum it up, I think recorded lectures are a good supplement to live ones, but far inferior as a replacement.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180058)

That's more a problem with the model than the practice. A good instructor is well worth attending. The problem is that there's a lot of ones which aren't qualified and or are not doing their jobs properly.

The Khan Academy has its strengths, but ultimately if you're not the type of learner that they're focusing on it's a complete waste. Which is the point, some people really do need to have an instructor in the room to learn.

Re:Human video projectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180080)

Well there is also a question of what to prioritize in a curriculum. We aren't going to encapsulate the sum of all human knowledge relevant for a particular major(s) in four years, thus different professors at different institutes are given some level of esteem by their respective institutes that they would teach what is "relevant". So assuming a professor constantly works to improve their curriculum to teach effectively and efficiently, I'd say that there is some benefit to lecturing to students.

I agree that a lot of the stuff is set in stone and ought to be available in a standardized format ready to digest. As for responses to answer questions, a lot of this could be handled without the need to occupy professors' valuable time (no matter how willing they are) if it has been answered time and time again in forums/comments/etc.

The trick though is to avoid becoming every university's worst nightmare: University of Pheonix online. In this case, it seems that human video projectors are at least a step above.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180482)

You really want such an answer?

1. Everything is an industry. Education is no different. The people in those fields protect their jobs, maximize their pay.

2. It's good to know your professor. You talk to them. You interact with them.

Re:Human video projectors (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180606)

Self refresher: I could probably learn enough Controls to teach a course on it, but after a year my Control skills probably wouldn't be up to where they were.
If I taught a course on controlls every semester, varying between 200 level courses and 500 level courses. My controls knowledge would be very sharp and I'd be able to do research.

I've seen professors get stumped by questions in all ranges of classes, figure out the answer and come back. Now everyone in the class knows and the next time that it comes up the professor knows.

Re:Human video projectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180896)

Totally agreed, lets get all of the greatest professors in the world to provide lecture series on absolutely everything knowable, and get that shit up on the web for free as soon as is humanly possible. The spread of knowledge would be so ridiculously fast, social mobility would skyrocket (slightly), and the world would be a better place. Lets do it.

Because I'm looking at faces... (2)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180988)

No teacher worth a damn is just reading a script, even when they're teaching a class of 1000,,,

When I give a lecture, the students are feeding me information at the same time I'm feeding them. When I see a class filled with gray hair, I know I can get away with a Jerry Garcia reference. That won't work if I'm looking at kids wearing t-shirts from the latest Disney TV show. Am I getting silence because I have the class in rapt attention, or is it just the lull before the snoring starts? Are the frowns and forehead creases because they have no idea what I'm talking about or because I just tried to reference Charles Darwin in Dallas?

The difference between watching a video of a class and actually being in a classroom is the difference between watching porn and actually having sex.

   

Re:Human video projectors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35183264)

Agreed. In my view, we are handling education backwards.

Right now, we have the lectures take place in the classroom, and assign homework to do at home. Really, we should be assigning the lectures to view at home (since they don't really require interactivity), then doing the homework in class. This way, students will be able to ask questions to the teacher when they need it and interact with each other on the actual work.

Of course, the central flaw of this is that most students probably won't view the lectures at all, so the entire class time would be spent reviewing the lecture, which would pretty much return us to the state we are currently in.

Awsome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179716)

Awsome I can get Music, Porn , games and online classes all from thepiratebay now!! MY IQ is going on the up and up now. lol

Already made it months ago (0)

Zurd3 (574979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179740)

I already made a torrent file of 29 gigs of all the videos, it can be found in "Other Video Sources" here [khanacademy.org] .

Re:Already made it months ago (1)

lorax (2988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180108)

what format are the video files in the torrent? Also, what resolution, bitrate, and codec?

Re:Already made it months ago (2)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181026)

Glad you asked! Nothing else but the absolute minimum for a teaching videos. The torrent was made to be as small as possible (29 GB) using only the most efficient and smallest video and audio formats possible.

Format: Blu-ray video only. You will need a burner to play the video.

Resolution: 1080p video, 7.1 Dolby DTS audio.

Bitrate: video at 40 Mbit/s and audio at 24.5 Mbit/s.

Codecs are MPEG-4 AVC for video and DTS-HD (Lossless) for audio.

This should answer your specific questions. I must say its spectacular. Its like being in the classroom!

Note: I *might* stand to be corrected. In which case, please direct me to the appropriate Khan academy file(s) in the Torrent.

Re:Already made it months ago (1)

Zurd3 (574979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35183518)

Some in .flv, some in .mp4, they're the same as the original ones hosted on youtube.

Take that, filtering ISPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179782)

Block BT traffic and be branded as anti-education!

I work at a school. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179816)

I am only a lowly IT technician. But I think I may be able to put a word in with the science faculty. Teachers like to show the occasional video in class to shut the children up while they get some marking done.

*This* is the type of thing that makes me smile (4, Interesting)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179834)

At a time when so many things are wrong in this world, Khan Academy is helping countless people improve their lives through education. The help of BitTorrent brings this to even more people. Truly awesome and many thanks!

Re:*This* is the type of thing that makes me smile (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180086)

I feel the need to point out that while it is great, you're somewhat exaggerating the benefit. It's not useful if you haven't gotten a basic education and if you don't have broadband, which pretty much shuts out the people that are most in need right there.

I do support what they're doing because free or affordable education is a good thing for everybody. Except perhaps for educators, but since this really doesn't hit everybody I'm not too worried going into education.

Re:*This* is the type of thing that makes me smile (2)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180126)

I would argue that torrent distribution is even more important for those without broadband... because eventually you will receive the data. With more conventional methods, auto-resuming is more complicated. With torrents it's automatic.

Re:*This* is the type of thing that makes me smile (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181304)

I disagree. Places like Pakistan are where the Khan academy is targeted. According to Wikipedia's statistics [wikipedia.org] , the majority have finished primary school and thus are receptive enough to understand the material being laid out in the basic Khan academy lectures. I'd hope the academy expands its video base to help the millions who haven't passed the equivalent of 5th grade, but I don't know if distance learning works at such a basic level.

Khan Academy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179848)

This guy is really good at explaining complex subjects. I've watched quite a few of his videos.

TTC Is not amused (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179920)

. Seriously, even though I personally Torrent the shit outta every copyrighted work I can get my hands on, I'm glad it is developing legitimate uses to shut up the **AA's.

Re:TTC Is not amused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180214)

I hear you. A neat thing you can do, to take this a step further, is to take a useless old computer (486, Pentium-100, etc), setup a CLI bittorrent client with all the "legit" material you want to promote, throttle it in a way that consumes the excess monthly bandwidth you've already purchased from your ISP. Maybe set it to 20kbps max, or something, just to burn off those last 10G you never get around to using.

Re:TTC Is not amused (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182436)

hmmmm very good idea. although I'm pretty f'n suprised clearwire hasn't throttled me yet, I guess they really need customers. I just passed 1 TB over the last 3 months

Someone had to do it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179942)

partnership with the Khan Academy

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN...

Smart move, BT (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35179974)

With all the scrutiny that file sharing providers are under these days, it's a good idea for someone like BT to immerse themselves and become associated with something legitimate like this. Hopefully it will make some judge later down the line think twice before having them shut down for illegal sharing.

Re:Smart move, BT (1)

jnpcl (1929302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180050)

Bittorrent, Inc. has been doing legitimate media distribution for several years now.

KHAAAANNNN!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35179976)

Couldn't pass up the opportunity. Maybe I should watch these videos, be enlightened, and not inclined to such pedantry...

Anyway,I'm pleased that this kind of thing is happening openly and over a torrent network. Apple's tried to engage this kind of thing with iTunes Edu (or whatever it is) but I found the execution to be lousy, as you never know when that video's going to be yanked/expire/work on your device.
The open-ness of this is going to be useful.I hope anyway.

KAAAHN!!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180068)

*takes breath*

KAAAHN!!!!!

Re:KAAAHN!!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35180294)

KAAAAAAHHN!!!!

Khan as inspiration (2)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180494)

I was inspired by Khan Academy to launch my first ever open source project. It replicates a little math tool Khan used to demonstrate slope-intercept in his videos, it's called eGraph. It also allows people to design, print, or project graphs in a classroom and it has a nice demo featuring the slope-intercept equation. When I saw the equation "animated" while changing the variables it instantly sunk in. During that time I was already building eGraph to design and print custom graph sheets, so I added the slope demo and released it for free. Its also a great little project for someone to learn the "meat" of several important java libraries (including Java2D - printing) and Netbeans (the source comes as a Netbeans project). http://www.datavirtue.com/egraph.html [datavirtue.com]

Khan academy is great...but (1)

PenquinCoder (1431871) | more than 3 years ago | (#35180950)

I don't have a lot of spare free time to sit down and watch the videos. I would LOVE it if Khan Academy would release the lessons as understandable lecture/ audio podcasts as well. This way one could just listen to the material instead of needing the visual cues as well. I understand a lot of the subject matter can't be easily explained without visual cues, but right now if you where to just take the audio from the videos...you'd be lost as to what's going on. Podcasts please, not just a release of the youtube videos.

Missing the Point (1)

gpmanrpi (548447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35181274)

I feel like some comments are missing the point. I think Khan Academy works best in conjunction with some kind of normal curriculum. Repetitio Est Mater Studiorum as the saying goes. Khan Academy provides a way to hear the same thing in a voice different from one's instructor. It also solves the general problem of losing concentration during a lecture, and not being able to adequately replay the concept in a derivative way as opposed to the way many textbooks explain concepts that build on other concepts.
While it can also be the basis for independent learning, there is something to be said for having a source textbook of problems with an index for easy look-up. Perhaps this is an opportunity for textbook marketers to link up with Khan Academy as well as a way to develop their teacher's manuals for lesson planning, or maybe one of the many open/free science textbooks out there to really make a positive push in these budget limited times. The bittorrent angle just gives an official torrent distribution methodology that does not depend or get limited by YouTube, and therefore really allows for penetration to areas that may not have reliable internet, but want some high quality instructional videos (read poor areas with spotty internet and low budgets)
Quick Bias Disclaimer: The site has been invaluable to me as I have recently decided to take a bunch of pre-med classes and take the MCAT. I am an attorney with BS in CompSci, but I had not taken any science courses in 6 years. It helps to reacquaint yourself with old mathematical friends you haven't had to use in a while, and it is easy to cherry pick cross product and dot product videos, or review how to use matrices to solve multi-variable problems without a calculator.

Similar program at MIT (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35182776)

At MIT, there is a similar project called BLOSSOMS [mit.edu] . One would hope that these types of programs would be able to find common ground to get positive network effects.

Khan Academy - New American Education Revolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35183044)

The Khan Academy has produced the FINEST Academic Courses on line for HIgh School and College Curriculums that are FREE. There is no reason why students of All Ages, young and older can not get a REAL Education Superior to the Junk taught in most seondary schools and many Colleges. This is going to be a NEW AMERICAN EDUCATION REVOLUTION.

Why not go with open-source implementation? (1)

cyberzade (1862830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35183330)

This is truly great news. But why not go with an open-source platform/project?
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