Kahn Academy, YouTube, XO-1

Hal Murray hmurray at megapathdsl.net
Fri Feb 4 20:45:50 EST 2011

I'm a bit surprised nobody has mentioned Khan Academy here before.

Salman Khan gave a fun talk at Stanford on Jan 26.  You might be able to 
watch the video from here:
The nominal format for EE380 talks is talk from 4:15 to 5:15, Q&A from 5:15 
to 5:30.  The online broadcast and video recording stops at 5:30.  In 
reality, the break from formal talk to Q&A is whatever the speaker wants and 
Q&A often keeps going past 5:30.  Sal's Q&A/talk didn't end until close to 
6:00.  (I almost missed my train.)

The quick summary, is that he has made ~2000 ten minute videos and 
distributes them via YouTube.  His target is k-14, mostly math and science.

He got started when helping a cousin with math.  Videos solved the scheduling 
problem.  As long as he was making them for her, why not make them available 
to other people.  ...

They aren't fancy.  The few that I've listened to have been good.

He's a lively speaker: good if you like discussion, probably not so good if 
you want a rigidly organized formal speech.  (Maybe he's good at that too if 
he changes hats.  The Stanford talk was not formal.)

He has funding from Google and Gates so he's doing what he wants and doesn't 
have to pay attention to outside interests/pressure or pollute his web pages 
with ads.

He's working on a serious translation project.  (top 10 or 20 languages)  
They are looking for volunteers.

He's got a trial going with a local school.  One approach is to reverse the 
normal lecture/homework setup.  Watch the videos at home, work the problems 
at school where the teacher can help the students who need it.  He's working 
on software to present math problems, grade them, give out badges (to get 
kids fired up), collect stats for teachers...

It all looks good to me.  I'm sure lots of people will hate it and/or him.

He told one story...  Some school board wanted to use his videos to train 
their teachers (sure) but they wanted to hide the videos from the kids.  ???

Anyway, he has lots of good stuff that might be interesting to OLPC, or some 


Topic switch...  How well does YouTube work on a XO-1?

I'd like to look at his biology stuff.  (probably others too)  Is it reasonable to do that on a XO-1?  (I'm running the latest os6.  I'll switch back if that matters.)

The recent discussion on Flash was interesting.  I installed Adobe Flash.  I get reasonable audio but the video is only an occasional picture.

top says the CPU is close to 100%.   I assume that's the limiting factor.  Is there any hope that things will get better soon and/or what can I do to help?

His videos are mostly whiteboard type drawings.  It should be low bandwidth/low CPU.  (but that may not fit what YouTube is setup for)


His web pages have a Download button which pulls an flv off archive.org and drops it into my Journal.  But I can't do anything with it there.  There isn't any default Activity to run it and I can't setup one for it.  Is there some way to setup that binding?

His videos are only ~5 to 10 megabytes.  (Maybe more, I only checked a few.)  But the XO-1 doesn't have room for many of those.  I've got an SD card with lots of room.  How do I download a batch to a SD card and run them from there?  Or move my Journal to a SD card or ...  [I guess by default I could move all of ~olpc there.]


I was thrashing around.  While doing a download, I filled up the file system behind my Journal.

It gave me a button to go delete something, but when I got there, it jumped back to the Journal full screen again before I could do anything.  (I got out of that by disconnecting the ethernet cable which was fortunate because I normally use WiFi and just happened to be using wired because I had broken WiFi.)

How do I find out how big something in the Journal is?


Google for >Khan Academy OLPC< starts with a couple of links looking for Arabic translation volunteers.

The 3rd one is OLPC Maroc which has some technical info that I haven't followed yet.  The key step seems to be ffmpeg2theora.  Is anybody familiar with that?  Is it likely to help the CPU limitation?

I'd be happy to do a lot of pre-processing on another more powerful machine, especially if I don't have to pollute it with too much Adobe Flash crap or at least if the un-pollute recipe is clean.  (But I'll setup a blow-it-away system if the pollution is too messy.)

These are my opinions, not necessarily my employer's.  I hate spam.

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