From Khan Academy’s Rishi Desai, MD:
When I think back to studying for the MCAT I still cringe a tiny bit, and that’s usually enough to get my mind to wander off to something more pleasant. But if I press on…I remember a few specific things. For example, most of my memories are of studying alone. The process was draining – I trudged through dull books and practice test, after practice test, after practice test, with the vague notion of wanting to be a doctor. Occasionally I studied with a friend, and those memories stand out because we would take study breaks and teach and quiz each other. We had a knack for boiling down the dense content into manageable and understandable tidbits for one another. We could get into each other’s heads and figured out how to explain things in a way that only someone else that’s going through the material would know how to do.
Today, I lead Khan Academy Medicine, and I’m surrounded by people who care about learning and are willing to try new things. Thinking back to how I liked to learn, I was willing to bet that I wasn’t the only one. Lots of students would probably welcome getting information from a network of students and talented teachers who can get inside the head of someone learning something new. An idea was born!
We could use a national competition to find the most talented educators (students, trainees, and professionals) and have them put together a set of Khan Academy tutorials (videos and questions) that teach the material in a clear, no-nonsense, intuitive, and fun way!
A project this big requires the right collaborators, and it doesn’t get better than the AAMC and RWJF. The three of us got to work on announcing the competition, and now the results are in! I watched all of the submissions, and was thoroughly impressed. The next step is for me to join the fifteen winners at a training camp in San Francisco, where we’ll work together to hone our teaching skills. After that, we’ll start producing the content. I’m excited that this idea is coming to fruition. My only regret is that Khan Academy didn’t exist back when I needed it…