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Last spring, with the closure of schools to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, educational programs became a lifeline.

As parents, educators, and students adapted to the virtual classroom, many relied on programs and technologies to help fill learning gaps.

Among them was the popular Khan Academy, which was established in 2005. Launched by Sal Khan to provide videos and tools to help students learn math, science, and more.

In an interview with TODAY in the U.S., Khan, the company’s CEO, said he first learned about the school closure due to the pandemic in February when he received letters from Khan Academy faculty from South Korea. In the following months, schools promoting virtual learning were closed in the United States.

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“When it became clear that schools could be closed, we started a little war room around, ‘Okay, we need to give more support to teachers and parents,'” Khan said. “We need to create more structures like you can use in addition to Khan Academy, but other resources to organize a day that can roughly coordinate a school at home or a quarantine school, or anything you might want to name.”

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Khan said the COVID-19 website had an average of 30 million learning minutes at school. During the spring peak, Khan Academy taught an average of 90 million minutes.

Last week, the Amgen Foundation donated $ 3 million to Khan Academy. USD grant for initiatives, including virtual biology lessons, and collaboration with the online science learning platform LabXchange.

TODAY USA talked to Khan about what to expect this fall and how parents can cope.

Question: Where do you think programs like Khan Academy fit in with the changing school curriculum?

Khanas:We call ourselves a strategic addition. It’s like an ambiguous term. What does this mean?

At Pre-COVID, you understand the core curriculum. When you and I went to school, it was like a textbook, a teacher’s guide, and maybe a combination of some lecture notes or instructions prepared by the teacher or the district. There are now some more comprehensive core curricula that are taught every day and that teachers can use.

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No matter which curriculum you are looking at, whether it is textual or more modern, they write well the lesson plans for the day. If they are missing (and this is before COVID), are they not good at giving students enough practice, especially practice when they receive direct feedback. They don’t necessarily provide support when teachers can know in real time what students are doing, what they know, what they don’t know.

And traditional core programs are weak in addressing the problem of every student with gaps in an academic year. You give them a synchronous lesson every day.

And what if the kids aren’t ready for that lesson, or what if some kids are ready to move forward? How do you do that differentiation and that personalization? So that practice, that feedback, the monitoring and personalization of teachers ’progress, the learning that was mastered were areas where Khan Academy saw its role in the classroom, where we could add value as a strategic addition.

Now that you’re entering the world of COVID, something really interesting is happening because the traditional curriculum you’ve attached to doesn’t actually necessarily work the same way. Many traditional programs are based on having – just imagine a math class, five 55-minute sessions a week and then you go on your own to solve some problems. Now, at best, you get two to three Zoom sessions a week, much more will have to happen remotely, learning remotely using some form of online tools.

We see that there will continue to be a strategic addition to that practice, feedback, monitoring of teachers ’progress and personalization, but we imagine – and this we saw in the spring – that people will bow down much harder. because you can’t achieve so much synchronous time together in this world. It’s exactly the same idea, but I think the value of these online tools is much more important now.

Q: What new features or offerings do you expect to introduce this fall?

Khanas: Classroom-level courses are prepared here. It is not only a way to understand whether children are ready, but also a tool to help them prepare for and prepare for grade level, or even at the same time moving to grade level so that they fill any gaps they may have accumulated even before COVID, but especially during the COVID period.

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In addition, we create learning plans and weekly schedules so that teachers and parents can form an approach that could at least be the basis for distance learning. The reality is that districts are just leaving the room with epidemiologists to figure out what is even physically possible, and they haven’t really had a chance to think about what the curriculum looks like in this world. How do we teach, what are our learning goals, how do we actually do it?

So, we not only have the tools on offer, but also to give people a clear view of what that learning might look like.

We worked with McKinsey & Company – we will publish it in two weeks – on a report that looked at what best practice has been since spring distance learning, what didn’t work and what will happen next, what is best practice, what is a notebook as a district whether the school can assess their readiness for blended or distance learning. We continue to provide teachers and parents with much more support and training so that as many people as possible can survive this period.

Q: What advice would you give to parents helping their children navigate a virtual school?

Khanas:My advice: take a deep breath first. You don’t even have to set yourself the expectation that you need to replicate the whole school. It’s just not practical. No one gets it. So even if you look at your relatives and it seems like they’re gaining an amazing hybrid experience, it’s probably not as amazing as you might think.

But I would say the next thing is to focus on those basics. There are two scenarios. There is a scenario where the school supports the family quite well. The main role of the father is to do what the school says, to make sure you can form habits and habits with the child, and to look at the calendar together so that the child shows up and engages in any activities that the faculty want. to do them.

There is another scenario – and unfortunately I think it can be quite common when families do not get the support they need and have to do it themselves. I would say here that the focus is on the basics. Depending on the child’s age, math, reading and writing, if they can get at least 20-30 minutes a day, they won’t get sick and make progress.

Follow Bretta Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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