The Khan Academy, one year on

The French version of the Khan Academy was launched in the autumn of 2014. One year on, the platform is still winning over students and teachers alike. At the beginning of this new school year, we caught up with Luc Héripret, Head of Corporate Sponsorship for Africa for the Foundation.
luc héripret Khan Academy start of year 2015
How did the project to translate the content of Khan Academy into French come about?
"The Libraries Without Borders team approached us in October 2012 to talk to us about the Khan Academy. They first saw it in its Portuguese version in Brazil. They were very enthusiastic about the project and the educational methods it uses and so they offered to support the adaptation of the Khan Academy into French. We immediately loved the idea and got right on board. "
What were your expectations for the adaptation?
"We wanted to adapt the videos into French, which meant redoing the image and the sound. That was our first major point, because maths are not written or explained in exactly the same way in French and English. The hardest part was adapting the videos before carrying out similar work for the website and exercises of course.

The second point dealt with the quality of the adaptation work. We worked with a steering committee made up of teachers to check the adaptations, which were done by PhD students. It was important to have an educational endorsement for the teachers and parents, and to ensure a high quality product. "

"It was important to have an educational endorsement.”


What content can be found on the platform?
"The original content created by Salaman Khan (the founder of Khan Academy) was just maths. Then, he added chemistry, physics and earth sciences, but we have decided to only adapt maths, physics and chemistry into French. As these are relatively culture-neutral sciences, it was easier to adapt them than other subjects like history or philosophy. "

Who is adapting and maintaining the site?

"The steering committee was made up of primary- and secondary-school teachers. Then, PhD students were recruited to adapt the content into French, including both the videos and the site and exercises. Several casting sessions were held over the course of the two years we had for the adaptation, and we chose the candidates carefully based on several factors: the quality of the adaptation, their locution, their voice, their energy and their style. It was a difficult choice, as we wanted to recreate the very energetic and punchy style of Salman Khan’s videos.

salman Khan start of year 2015 khan academy
Salman Khan, creator of the Khan Academy

For the content management, we committed to support the site’s maintenance. So we keep an eye on the American version of the Khan Academy and with each development we adapt the new content. We can add videos and modify those that are already on the site. We do the same for the exercises, we can adjust them to present them in a different way. "

One year on, what feedback have you had from students and teachers?
"The initial feedback is coming in now. The French version of the site was put online one year ago, but that doesn’t mean that everyone immediately started using it. We publicised the French version via our delegates in France and we organised meetings with charities and teachers so that they could get to know the Khan Academy. It was a long-term effort, but there are already several thousand regular users this year.* The start of this school year will be decisive, because the site has started to become quite well-known.

"We have had really positive feedback from users.”

"We have had really positive feedback from users. The teachers who use it in their classes realise that it is a tool that lets them personalise each student’s progress, and that they can also use it to continue learning at home or with an association. The students like that a lot, because they like digital tools.

It is a system that encourages the student rather than punishing them. If they get an exercise wrong, they can try again, however many times they need. Everyone can go at their own speed. The great advantage, for both students and teachers, is that the site personalises learning while supporting progress. In after-school support associations, the advantage is even more obvious as this tool helps children who are struggling at school and, above all, lets them work at their own pace without fear of being ridiculed or punished. It has received a very warm welcome and there has been hardly any negative feedback. "
What’s next for the French version of the Khan Academy? New content?
"We are obviously continuing with new content, but not just for the Khan Academy. There are other platforms that already exist or that are being developed. Some are French, others French-speaking or international. We are therefore looking for content, both for primary and secondary level as well as for professional training in France and French-speaking countries. But the principle must be the same: no time limits and under a free licence, so it is free and accessible to all."

* The most recent use study for the French version indicates that 114,737 students are registered on the site.

Find out more
Find all the videos and exercises on la Khan Academy.

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