From Khan Academy’s Rishi Desai, MD:
My mom was born in Nairobi, Kenya, so being invited to go out to East Africa to speak about Khan Academy Medicine was a real treat. I was there for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) meeting, and in attendance were 12 of the premier African medical schools. I went to the meeting with a lot of classic assumptions: Internet access would be limited, convincing faculty and students that online education makes sense would be tough, enriching the in-class experience would be a challenge, and on and on…
Here’s the reality. Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College has been using video based education for over a year. They have their medical students watch videos made by their professors before coming to class. To make sure that they are actually watching the videos, there is a short 10 minute quiz at the beginning of class that each student takes alone. This forces each student to come to class prepared to discuss the material. After submitting the quiz, students take a second quiz with the same questions within small groups. This encourages them to discuss their answers and debate any differences of opinion. Finally, they spend the remainder of class time discussing a clinical scenario. Parts of this strategy could be used across disciplines, parts may be improved, but ultimately it’s the willingness to experiment and to push the boundaries of teaching that impresses me most. Students really enjoy the system, and test scores are on the rise when compared to previous years.
I got back to California, and on the flight, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that we could play an important role in Africa. Maybe Khan Academy could host questions/videos for African medical students, perhaps African medical schools could generate content for Khan Academy for US medical schools, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps… No single data point or school will tell the story of online education in Africa, but if we watch closely I think there are many lessons for all of us to learn.