Knowledge is power.
I’ve heard that phrase before and in many variations, but I like this one because it is concise, succinct, and direct. There is only one way to interpret that phrase: Your ability to do anything beyond sitting, eating, and breathing is directly related to the depth and breath of what you know.
Think about that for a bit.
Let’s say you want to stand up and walk. Anyone from an 11-month old baby to a 91 year old yoga instructor knows how to do that, right? The difference is that the babe does not understand the mechanics of standing and walking, he just does it because he sees others doing it and it facilitates faster locomotion and greater range of environmental interaction (i.e. he can get into a lot more stuff a lot faster).
The yoga instructor, on the other hand, has a deep understanding of how muscles, joints, ligaments, breathing, and much more work together so that standing isn’t just about changing positions and walking isn’t just changing locations, these actions take on whole new dimensions and open up new possibilities. Knowing more expands your world and helps you deal with it. Knowing more gives you the ability to achieve more and create more and become more. Knowing more gives you the power to do more.
Knowledge is power.
So, how does one get more knowledge, hence, more power? There are many varied ways to learn and each of us absorbs knowledge differently and at different rates. I tend to do better when I see examples, and my ideas are better laid out if I can see them in my mind’s eye. I get restless or sleepy if I stare at book pages too long. College was grueling for me. Most of the stuff I learned I’ve forgotten, and I sure would love to revisit them again, but not if I have to deal with staid and dusty books.
I could go to iTunes University to pick a few classes. While the classes and courses offered there are all good I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get. This is why I think I’m going to like Khan Academy for iPad better, and why you might, too.
What is Khan Academy? (No, it is not an organization dedicated to expounding and expanding the teachings of Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically engineered super human and Captain James T. Kirk’s nemesis.)
Khan Academy is a virtual learning environment founded by Salman Khan, who is, in his own right, a bit of a super human. He holds several degrees from several prestigious schools covering a wide range of disciplines including mathematics, electrical engineering and computer science. The academy’s mission is to provide a top notch learning environment to anyone who wants to use it, free.
These are not lessons cobbled together in an incoherent mass that you have to wade into to tease out the classes you want. The subjects are organized and categorized, and cover lessons geared to students from kindergarten through college and beyond.
Take math for instance. You can start with the very basics - addition, subtraction, multiplication and (my personal favorite) division. You scan through lessons you may be familiar with and move on to more advanced lessons covering fractions and trig to differential equations and calculus. The Science and Humanities categories are similarly laid out, so finding what you want or need to learn about is easy.
Select a lesson and you not only get audio and video, both high quality and easy to understand and see, but there’s also subtitles so that you can always be sure of what’s being said. You can download any video for offline viewing and share it with others via Facebook or Twitter.
And the goodness doesn’t stop there. Log into the Khan Academy site and you can set up a profile that keeps track of your progress. As in many popular games you can earn achievement badges, some are easy to get while others, not so much. But then, that’s the challenge. It’s not Game Center linked yet, but I suspect that will happen eventually.
Currently the exercises associated with lessons are only available through the site, also, you can’t coach a student from your iPad, but these are promised for a future release of the iOS app.
This is truly a remarkable app and endeavor. The idea of providing knowledge and, to a large extent, an education to anyone for free can actually be realized through Khan Academy. If you have kids or are looking to extend or complete your own education, this is a must-have. But even if your educational desires are not so involved and all you want is to brush up on a subject or two, it’s all there.
Check out Khan Academy for iPad. This is what makes smart devices like the iPad worth whatever amount you pay for them.
That’s a wrap for this week. More free education related apps below with direct links.