Known for online videos, Salman Khan is experimenting with face-to-face, hands-on learning this summer, reports the New York Times. At Khan Academy‘s two-week summer camp in Palo Alto, middle schoolers “take apart household electronics, build robots and learn about probability by making bets in a make-believe casino.”
“It helps us learn what education can be and where our virtual stuff fits,” Mr. Khan said of the camp. “It gets us closer to how to run our own school.”
The Khan Academy’s online lectures are sometimes criticized for duplicating old-fashioned rote learning on a computer screen, and some critics question the way he teaches certain concepts. Mr. Khan says that view misunderstands what he is trying to do. He wants students to absorb basic skills online and be able to put them to use offline. And yes, he wants to build a school. It has been a glint in his eye for years. The summer camp, which he calls Discovery Lab, is an incubator of sorts. There is little to no time spent in front of the screen.
“We try out interactive projects, labs, explorations,” he said. “The ideal academic environment has a very physical component to it. For my own children, I want them to go to a physical school. I want them to have an immersive experience like these summer camps.”
Unlike Khan Academy videos, the camp is not free. Parents pay $1,000 for the two-week experience.