Salman Khan was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is of South Asian descent; his father is from Barisal, Bangladesh and his mother was born in Kolkata, India. Khan holds three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: a BS in mathematics, a BS in electrical engineering and computer science, and an MS in electrical engineering and computer science. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. In late 2004, Khan began tutoring his cousin Nadia in mathematics using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad. When other relatives and friends sought his tutorial, he decided it would be more practical to distribute the tutorials on YouTube. Their popularity there and the testimonials of appreciative students prompted Khan to quit his job in finance in 2009 and focus on the Academy full-time.Bill Gates once said that "I'd say we've moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job."
As of December 2009, Khan's YouTube-hosted tutorials receive a total of more than 35,000 views per day. Each video runs for approximately ten minutes. Drawings are made with SmoothDraw, which are recorded and produced using video capture from Camtasia Studio. Khan eschewed a format that would involve a person standing by a whiteboard, desiring instead to present the content in a way akin to sitting next to someone and working out a problem on a sheet of paper: "If you're watching a guy do a problem [while] thinking out loud, I think people find that more valuable and not as daunting." Offline versions of the videos have been distributed by not-for-profit groups to rural areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. While the Khan Academy's current content is mainly concerned with pre-college mathematics and physics, Khan states that his long-term goal is to provide "tens of thousands of videos in pretty much every subject" and to create "the world's first free, world-class virtual school where anyone can learn anything."
The Khan Academy also provides a web-based exercise system that generates problems for students based on skill level and performance. Khan believes his academy points an opportunity to overhaul the traditional classroom by using software to create tests, grade assignments, highlight the challenges of certain students, and encourage those doing well to help struggling classmates.
The success of his low-tech, conversational tutorials — Khan's face never appears, and viewers see only his unadorned step-by-step doodles and diagrams on an electronic blackboard — suggests an educational transformation that de-emphasizes classrooms, campus and administrative infrastructure, and even brand-name instructors.
The project relies on donations for funding. Several people have made $10,000 contributions; Ann and John Doerr gave $100,000; total revenue is about $150,000 in donations, and $2,000 a month from ads on the Web site. As of September 2010, Google announced they would be providing the Khan Academy with $2 million to support the creation of more courses and to enable the Khan Academy to translate their core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages, as part of their Project 10100.
- Video library (over 2,310 videos and counting in various topic areas - logging over 52 million visits)
- Automated exercises with continuous assessment (129 modules, mainly in math, 4 challenges, 125 individual modules)
- Peer-to-peer tutoring based on objective data collected by the system (future projected)
- Khan Academy videos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.
Not-for-profit partner organizations are making the content available outside of YouTube. The Lewis Center for Educational Research, which is affiliated with NASA, is bringing the content into community colleges and charter schools around the United States. World Possible is creating offline snapshots of the content to distribute in rural, developing regions with limited or no access to the Internet.
Khan has stated a vision of turning the academy into a charter school:
This could be the DNA for a physical school where students spend 20 percent of their day watching videos and doing self-paced exercises and the rest of the day building robots or painting pictures or composing music or whatever.
- Salman Khan has been featured in San Francisco Chronicle, on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS),National Public Radio, CNN, and CNN Money.
- In 2009, the Khan Academy received the Microsoft Tech Award for education.
- In 2010 at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Bill Gates endorsed the learning resource, calling it "unbelievable" and saying "I've been using [Khan Academy] with my kids."
- In 2010, Google's Project 10100 provided $2 million to support the creation of more courses, to allow for translation of the Khan Academy's content, and to allow for the hiring of additional staff.
- In 2011, Salman Khan delivered a TED talk.
- On May 4, 2011, Salman Khan appeared on Charlie Rose.