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Internet removes barriers to education

Education, education, education. First, there is no excuse for not learning today. And, I am not apologising for this statement, either. If you have the will and the interest, and whether you liked or disliked formal schooling, the World Wide Web is open to you, for free, for fun, anytime, anywhere.

The Kahn Academy (www.khanacademy.org) and on YouTube, featured recently on CBS 60 Minutes, is according to their website, “A free world-class education for anyone anywhere”.

The Khan Academy is an organisation on a mission.

They are a not-for-profit group with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere.

All of the site's resources are available to anyone.

It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg-up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

Over the years, individuals have often lamented to me that they would have loved to learn more, do more, explore more but didn't have the time, or the confidence, but most often lacked funds to attend a world class school and curriculum.

The internet has removed almost all of those barriers. The only one remaining is your decision to achieve.

Recently endorsed by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, Khan Academy is a website delight.

There are more than 3,000 videos containing tutorials on various subjects and although heavy on math, the absolutely 24-hour free tuition is expanding rapidly into other areas.

On any given day now, according to the Kahn academy's founder, Salman Kahn, four million teachers, students, and others world wide are using the teaching tools, videos, and entrancing education modules developed specifically by him for ease of learning and fun.

The site draws you in to try your current knowledge while developing more.

The site keeps track of your stats, how well you do on practice tests, and teaches concepts to you “the way that I wish I was taught,“ said Mr Kahn.

“The lectures are coming from me, a human being who is fascinated by the world around him.”

Featuring extensive videos on finance, including algebra, basic arithmetic, banking and finance, art history, calculus, chemistry, economics, computer science, currency, credit crisis, geometry, biology, valuations and probability, this site is driven by devotion of Mr Kahn, an astonishingly modest man with a passion for sharing knowledge.

According to Wikipedia: “In late 2004, Khan began tutoring his cousin, Nadia, in mathematics over the internet using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad.

When other relatives and friends sought his tutoring, he decided it would be more practical and beneficial to distribute the tutorials on YouTube where he created an account in November 2006.

Their popularity on the video sharing website and the testimonials of appreciative students prompted Khan to quit his job as a hedge fund analyst in late 2009 to focus on developing his YouTube channel, Khan Academy, full-time.

If you've always wanted to learn more, but couldn't afford it, had no one who could encourage you to try, need to keep up your skills for your job with no time during the day, or just can't even find the courses that you need, this is for you.

The lectures run from ten minutes onwards, easy enough to slip into an ordinary day.

If you didn't understand basic algebra or hated math in school, try the videos on Numerator and Denominator of a Fraction, Identifying Fraction Parts, and Equivalent Fractions.

Want to understand more about your mortgage, or the banking industry, or currency? Try Introduction to Compound Interest, or the Multiplier Effect and the Money Supply it is all there.

The global embrace for this website is amazing and incredibly touching.

Kahn Academy shares many of the very touching letters from students, and adults from all walks of life. Here are two letters from users.

From a mom: “I convinced my gifted but underachieving son, who finds math tedious and irritating, to watch one of your pre-algebra ten-minute videos.

When he was done, I asked him how it was and he slowly turned to me, his eyes wide and filled with wonder, and said breathlessly 'Mom, it was the coolest thing ever. It all made sense. I understood everything, and it was so exciting that I got this funny feeling in my chest, all tingly, and all I want to do is learn more that makes me feel that way.”

From an older worker who has to revamp his work skills: “I've been unemployed more often than not in the past four years and I decided that

“I was going to change my life drastically. I know the tools can be found in other places to get what I want accomplished, but your work is so helpful in filling my head with the right things at the right stages. I haven't done any math for about 17 years, yet in the past few months, you have taught me enough to give me so much of what I desperately needed in order to achieve my dreams. I've never met you, yet you have done so much for me.”

The site shares many more stories like these, of the difficulties individuals have had to overcome in learning on traditional platforms, or having no access to learning at all.

I am a passionate advocate of continuing education and self-learning.

Bottom line, it doesn't matter your age, your ability, or your life schedule, this website is there for the using try it, you will just love it. And, you will learn more than you ever thought you were capable of. Seize the free, all-free opportunity to enhance the career person you want to be. This website, www.kahnacademy.org is a gift.

Martha Myron, CPA CFP (US) TEP JP www.marthamyron.com is an international Certified Financial Planner™ providing Financial Counsel for Cross Border Living™ on international tax, estate, and retirement strategies for Bermuda residents with US connections, and US citizens living and working abroad. Member of the American Citizens Abroad Tax Advisory Council. www.americansabroad.org Contact mmyron[AT]patterson-partners.com or 296 3528 at Patterson Partners Ltd.

The most popular educator on YouTube delivers all his lectures from a bedroom closet in Mountain View, California. Salman Khan, 33, quit his job as a hedgefund analyst to produce more than 1,400 lectures. Here, Khan records an 8th/9th grade level algebra example at his home on June 18, 2010. (Dai Sugano/San Jose Mercury News/MCT)

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Published March 17, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 17, 2012 at 8:22 am)

Internet removes barriers to education

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