Monthly Archives: December 2011

Khan Academy @ 4 million unique visitors (Nov 2011)

Source: TechCrunch, Dec 2011

Over the last month, Khan Academy saw 4 million unique users. That’s up from 1 million in the same period last year, and up from 3.5 million in October (asked by dbigthe)

Salman Khan on Reddit (2011-12-28), and his comment about public education policy:

Salman shares his predictions about Education in 2060

Preparing Our Children for the Future

Source: MindShift, Nov 2011

  1. EXPERIMENT WITH SCRATCH. It’s a brilliant and fun multimedia programming language that allows inventive media mixing almost immediately, without any background. It is creative and fun. Even if your child has no interest in being a programmer when they grow up, familiarity with the building blocks of a programming language will give them some skills and expertise at producing the kind of content they are already consuming. [See “5 Tools to Introduce Programming to Kids.”]
  2. EMBARK ON A MEANINGFUL PROJECT.Help your child (at any age, really) by being willing to help out—but emphatically not to lead or rescue—in an extended, risky project that has real impact in the child’s community—school, neighborhood, church, synagogue, community center. But stay out of the way. Let the kids shape the project. Kids should find a project that will probably not succeed in all the ways they hope. Dreaming big, taking risks, and scaling back if and when you have to are fantastic skills. These skills are hardly ever taught in the school room which seems to be organized (as is much American society these days) as if some litigious personal injury lawyer is there ready to pounce at any moment.
  3. LEARN HOW TO BE A RESPONSIBLE DIGITAL CITIZEN. Learn how to give and take feedback in a public and responsible way. 

Subtitled Programs Can Improve TOEFL scores by 77 points

Source: Arturo Bris (2009 study co-author) website

Study’s Abstract:

We study the influence of television translation techniques on the quality of the English spoken across the EU and OCDE.  We identify a large positive effect for subtitled original version as opposed to dubbed television, which loosely corresponds to between four and twenty years of compulsory English education at school.

We also show that the importance of subtitled television is robust to a wide array of specifications. We then fi…nd that subtitling and better English skills have an infl‡uence on high-tech exports, international student mobility, and other economic and social outcomes.


We therefore provide empirical evidence that, ceteris paribus, English is better in countries where television is in original version with subtitles. The magnitude of the subtitling effect is very large, corresponding to between four and twenty years of English learning at school, and the interaction effects indicate some complementarity between subtitling and formal learning. Pupils in countries where there are subtitles benefit more from their English classes.

VII Conclusions

The general message in this paper is simple.

Subtitled original version …fiction provides continuous exposure to foreign languages. The US is by far the largest producer of …fiction programmes shown around the world, so when someone watches a television fi…lm in original version, it is very likely that the language source will be English.

Subtitled television programmes then improve the English skills of the viewers, and, thus, the citizens of countries where …films are shown in original version speak better English than those where television is dubbed.

We show that dubbing and subtitling countries do not differ signifi…cantly in wealth per capita or length of formal English education. Yet there are striking differences in their English skills.   Subtitling countries score 77 points higher in the TOEFL, and obtain 23 points more in the EU Survey of English proficiency.

We show in panel regressions that the differences in English skill can be significantly explained by the …film translation method used in the country. We identify an effect equivalent to between four and twenty years of English education at school. Our results are robust to the inclusion of other determinants of English skill, like wealth or economic development.

Using a Bi-Lingual Approach to Improve English Skills

Many of the Khan Academy “practice” exercises have English text; thus the student needs to be reasonably proficient in English.  

A motivated student (either self-motivation, or through parents’ urging) can learn to associate the right English terms (narration) with the Malay sub-titles, and gradually learn sufficient English to answer the “practice” exercises.  

MIT Launches a Brand-New Online Learning Initiative

MIT launches an online learning initiative
” …. allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded byMITx”

Sal Khan @ MIT, Nov 2011

Click on the image to view a video of his presentation.

My notes of the presentation:

  • 0:22 – Bill Gates funds KA
  • 0:29 – Flipped classroom
  • 1:05 – MIT OCW inspires Sal
  • 1:07 – 1/3 of US$5M to fund analytics
  • 1:08 – Learning at your own pace