Should Legal Education Be Taking Lessons From the Khan Academy?

The Khan Academy represents a new way to learn. It’s a YouTube-based video library consisting of over 1,800 videos on topics ranging from math, science, the humanities and other topics. Sal Khan, an MIT graduate, Harvard MBA and ex-hedge fund manager, singlehandedly delivers each of the lessons. His videos have more than 22 million views and are viewed more than 70,000 times per day – more than the combined courseware provided by both MIT and Stanford. For an idea of what a typical lesson looks like, take a look at Khan’s lessons on DNA or solving linear equations.

His lessons are brief, insightful, and conversational. As opposed to most web-based lectures, Khan does not stand at the front of a classroom and walk through a PowerPoint presentation. In fact, he doesn’t appear in the videos at all. Instead, he walks his students through his insights on a topic using just a virtual blackboard. In listening to Khan’s lessons you feel as if he is sitting next to you, describing a topic one-on-one.

The success of the Khan Academy and the fact it resonates so strongly with students (fans include Bill Gates) should make us ask if the approach can be adapted to legal education. CLE, especially, is a great fit for the asynchronous, learn-anywhere style of the Khan Academy.

Khan’s presentation at the Gel 2010 conference is an inspiring look into his approach to education. In the video Khan states that his single biggest goal in creating his lessons was to try to deliver education the way he wishes it had been delivered to him, and he asks us to consider how to apply some of the same concepts to other domains.

How do you think we can apply these ideas to legal education space? And how, ideally, would you like to see legal education taught in the future?


  1. Thanks, Jack. I had never come across Khan Academy before. That Gel 2010 conference video is a real treat. Quite inspiring!

    I’ve long felt if we could do short, little videos (screencasts) of discrete foundational pieces of the legal research trail, they could be posted inside law firm intranets to give legal researchers the boost they need at the time they need it. I’ve always thought this would be good for the technology, but I see this could be used for any subject really.

    Who wants to put some Contracts 101 videos together for us?