Revolutionary Education Through Technology

OnTay Johnson

In my last article, I talked about how during these times, while quarantined, we have an opportunity to start looking at alternative forms of education. Now, I want to look at a specific method of doing so. I have been looking at the creation and growth of online education and specifically, Khan Academy.  Now this isn’t a plug for Khan Academy but I believe in analyzing it’s success, we can get a vision for our potential.

Khan Academy started in the closet of Salman Khan[1].  Khan was able to take something he was doing for his family and friends and turn it not only into an online platform but an institution that now also has a brick and mortar classroom[2].

I use the app and site with my kids from time to time. When I do, I always say to myself, that if we do the necessary preliminary work, we can surpass Khan’s impact and do it solely for us.  The website/app isn’t impossible for us to build. What has really intrigued me is how Khan turned a hobby helping family and friends into an institution that is used all over the world.[3]

As of today the organization has:

  • 5.7 Million YouTube Subscribers
  • 7.7k Videos Uploaded
  • 1.7 Billion Views[4]

Again, my intention isn’t to direct us to Khan Academy so we can marvel at it so much as it is to get us to see the potential we have as Africans to utilize technology and subvert our current condition. Khan, despite being Indian, is educating children based on an eurocentric politic.  One may argue that it is not eurocentric because educators and students are utilizing the site all over the world. But I would ask, if it’s not eurocentric, then would Khan be considered Bill Gates’ favorite teacher if he wasn’t eurocentric?[5] Would Google donate millions of dollars if it was African-centered or even Asian-centered? [6] Would he be popular at TED talks [7] if he were truly revolutionary?  He probably could be so long as he ignored the fulcrum of white domination–Africans.

Go to Khan Academy’s site and click on “About the Team” and not one person of African descent shows up.[8] And I’m not asking to be included, I’m making a point that his curricula and success serve the european. It does not mean we can’t learn from it though.

There is an opportunity here and the capabilities of tech with education allures everyone. During the Obama administration, the Executive Office of the United States recognized the potential of eLearning, not only in the US but worldwide.[9] And that was nearly 11 years ago. What are our capabilities now?

We have to start asking ourselves questions that inspire us. What if we had an online platform that was funded by us and it wasn’t just a supplement to their current school but it replaced the pathological programming of the eurocentric schools our children attend now?

What if, from a young age, our children attended this school and quickly knew that their destiny was to overthrow the european because it was implemented into the school curriculum? What if this education program was designed to agitate and counter the various ways in which the present education system (worldwide) programmed us to seek jobs from our oppressors.

What if brain drain was no more an issue because our best and brightest stayed in Africa or decided to focus solely on helping the African communities wherever they lived? What if we were able to amass a movement, where parents looking for alternatives would enroll their children into this African-centered institution, and it was not only cosmetically African-centered but actually led to a revolution and then renaissance?

What if? Would you donate to this cause?  Is it worth $10/month from you for your child to attend? Five dollars? A dollar?  What if we could get 100,000 attendees (worldwide) the first year? What about 1 million? Could it catch steam?  What would be the outcome in 20 years if it were sustainable?

I will reiterate, the times have presented us with an opportunity.  Of course, there will be a lot needed to get there. I know, but we have to start somewhere, and I believe we can do it with the minds of our children. I am aware of how romantic this sounds but I’m a visionary and hopefully others can be inspired by this and we can build. We simply must believe in ourselves for the benefit of ourselves.


[1] “Sal Khan: the man who tutored his cousin – and started a ….” 23 Apr. 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/apr/23/sal-khan-academy-tutored-educational-website.
[2] “Khan Lab School.” https://khanlabschool.org/. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.
[3] “Khan Academy International.” 27 Apr. 2020, https://international.khanacademy.org/.
[4] “Khan academy | Youtube Statistics / Analytics | Trackalytics.” https://www.trackalytics.com/youtube/user/khanacademy/.
[5] “Sal Khan: Bill Gates’ favorite teacher – Aug. 24, 2010 – Fortune.” 24 Aug. 2010, https://archive.fortune.com/2010/08/23/technology/sal_khan_academy.fortune/index.htm.
[6] “Khan Academy – Google.org.” https://www.google.org/our-work/education/khan-academy/.
[7] “Sal Khan: Let’s teach for mastery — not test scores | TED Talk.” 6 Sep. 2016, https://www.ted.com/talks/sal_khan_let_s_teach_for_mastery_not_test_scores?language=en.
[8] “About the Team | Khan Academy.” https://www.khanacademy.org/about/the-team.
[9] “Unleashing the Potential of Educational Technology | The ….” https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/administration/eop/cea/factsheets-reports/educational-technology.

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