Published June 10, 2014
Philosopher and teacher are two words to describe Ivan Gospodinov. The young Bulgarian graduated in philosophy and social studies in Leipzig, Germany. However, he has decided to returned to Bulgaria, because in his view, one can do a lot more in this country, as compared to the land of Goethe. He has the ambition to make a career in the philosophy and education field. That is why he will be working as a teacher for “Together in Class” next school year. He does not know where he will teach German and philosophy, but he personally prefers to be sent to a small Bulgarian town.
“I would be able to contribute a lot more if I worked in a small place”, explains Ivan. “One of the program’s goals is to provide access to high-quality education to places with a deficit of such. Thus, I would be able to help children of whom people have low expectations. Their relatives can not imagine how these children can develop in spheres and professions which are not typical of their small town. I could not imagine it either. When I left for Germany to study philosophy I found it hard to explain to my relatives in the town of Haskovo (Southeastern Bulgaria) why I chose to study this subject. On the other hand, I would like to seclude myself in a small and peaceful place for some time.”
For the past three years or so Ivan has been the Bulgarian Volunteer Advocate of the Khan Academy which is the biggest digital education project worldwide. Ivan’s goal is to translate this project into Bulgarian, so it is accessible to Bulgarian students. Some 350 volunteers have joined so far. These are mainly young people interested in modern technologies, or parents who want to guarantee a better future for their children. The website has already been launched in Spanish and Portuguese, with French and Turkish soon on the way. Ivan hopes that Bulgarian will be next up. Khan Academy is a free learning platform that includes video lectures and practice problems in mathematics and science, preparatory courses for university education. Lessons prepared in partnership with NASA were uploaded on the website as well.
“We can do things from a distance now, as we live in the Internet era. Khan Academy is one such project which can provide high-quality education through the Internet to places with no teachers”, explains Ivan. “It is the biggest education web site worldwide. It contains over 6,500 video lessons and 100,000 exercises to these lessons, as well as educational software for class management. The good thing is that this software makes education in line with the students’ profile. The exercises at the Khan Academy are generated especially for you based on your personal history, on how well you managed to solve the tasks and your gaps. We deal with this project, because it is currently the best model which enables the use of new technologies in education. Meanwhile, it is completely free of charge and is very useful to small places and institutions with a deficit of high-quality education such as prisons and orphanages for example.”
The web site is applicable to all types of computers and mobile devices. It allows students, teachers and parents to create a profile. Specially-designed software enables teachers to have access to all necessary information about their class and their students. The main goal of the education platform is to assist the traditional education, rather than replacing it. “It would be useful to many teachers who teach at a different pace, because the knowledge of the students is at a different level”, Ivan specifies.
Khan Academy also enables students to combine their personal work done through video lectures and exercises with various activities, including developing social skills like working in a team.