Salman Khan visited Idaho in 2012 as part of the Ed Sessions speaker series sponsored by the Albertson Foundation. The month prior to his visit, KhanAcademy.org registered nearly 40,000 users from Idaho. The month after his visit, the number jumped to 55,000 users, according to the press release. Enthusiasm grew following a two-day Khan Academy teachers' workshop in October, which drew more than 200 teachers from around the state (see video). That led the foundation and Khan Academy to start planning this pilot program.
An independent committee selected the grant winners from among 75 traditional, private, enrichment programs and charter school applications. There were 36 grant winners, including 11 school districts who will bring multiple schools into the program, for a total of 47 schools and educational programs. One of them is the school program run by the Department of Corrections, which presented a particular challenge because inmates are not allowed Internet access, Kellerer said. Fortunately, Khan Academy offers a version of its course catalog that can be viewed offline.
"In our latest visits to Idaho, we already started to hear success stories," Khan said in a prepared statement. "Teachers told us about students who were able to race ahead while other students took time to finally fill in unique 'Swiss cheese holes' or gaps in knowledge from previous years. But we're also excited about the stories we haven't heard yet -- especially stories from rural and frontier regions where we haven't been able to visit. There's a tremendous amount of possibility in these regions where resources have historically been strained."
Kellerer said the classroom technology used to implement the program will vary from school to school, based on grant applications, but includes PCs, iPads and other tablets. Google's Chromebook devices are featured in many of the proposals because of their low cost, integrated keyboard and proficiency at displaying online content, he said.
"One of the grant proposals that came in for this said we really don't need any money or equipment for this, what we want is the training and professional development and training about this," he said.
Although the state Department of Education so far is merely monitoring the program, Kellerer said he hopes to see it become more actively involved if his research shows results. "The first step is to make sure this does as well as it says it does," Kellerer said.