My guess is that Illich would be quite happy to see Khan Academy's impressive library of instructional videos, especially if they are well done and useful (which I guess they are, given how much attention the man has received. Anything that helps people to learn is fine, whether it's books or online videos or a teacher at the blackboard in the classroom. What Illich was against was the idea that everyone, or anyone, should be forced to sit in that classroom, or forced to read a certain book or watch a certain set of videos regardless of whether they are interested in learning the topic at hand or not. No more compulsory schooling, he argued, no more forced march through graded curricula that some expert insists on and that is justified for this reason or that.
Illich also argued against the idea that employers should be permitted to ask if someone had a degree, or where they got their degree, or which books they've read or videos they've watched. In short, people should be free to learn what they want when they want to and how they want to. That doesn't mean creidts for life experience, it means not counting credits at all. It means learning on the job, and it means children working in the real world, not in an exploitative way but as they used to, being useful around the farm or the home or the business. Which means, I suppose, no more giant factories and anonymous offices, where children would be useless.
But also, Illich argued against the whole edifice of scarcity that exists in the modern world, the scarcity that is assumed to underly everything and that is never questioned and that is the basis for economics as we know it. As it is, many of us are forced to take class after class to keep up with the changing requirements of technology and new products based on new technologies, etc. These changes are often made just to maintain scarcity, to keep people employed, to sell more stuff. There is, as a result, an endless need for educational services, not only in the traditional classroom but throughout life, and much of this is quite artificial, rigged up to help corporations make money, to help unions and guilds protect scarce jobs, etc. etc.
My worry about Khan's operation is that Bill Gates, an enthusiastic supporter, and others of his ilk will use Khan as a way to justify intense use of technology in a way that ultimately aims to gut the school system as we know it. Who needs ranks unionized teachers making decent salaries when we can get kids taught their algebra, etc., with a few well-trained overseers, a bunch of "teachers" with 2-year degrees, and banks of computers showing videos? The school system is one of the biggest items in the government budget, and there is a real push on right now to privatize schooling so that all that money will flow into the hands of corporations - which may or may not have the same goals as traditional schools have had, namely to produce well-balanced, self-motivated, healthily skeptical, and well-informed citizens. If Wal-Mart runs the schools - that company is one of the bigger backers of several efforts to privatize and bring a business mentality to schooling - imagine what kind of people they'd like the schools to produce most: compliant workers willing to do what they're told, unquestioning of authority, not too well educated, able and ready to work in the fairly mindless service jobs that Corporate America will have to offer in years to come (as many good jobs go overseas, etc. etc.) Sure, there will still be a need for a few highly-trained engineers and designers and experts, and even a few professors of French literature, but most people won't need or be able to use that kind of training, so why waste money on it? Why not use videos and computers and the Net to get the schooling job done on the cheap and pocket the difference?
What, me cynical? You bet. Read around, though, and you'll find that there is a great deal of pressure to privatize the schools. No Child Left Behind is a cover story for this, for instance: It is a scheme that is being used to judge schools via testing and declare many of them as failing so that parents, worried sick, can be convinced to try out educational vouchers that would be spent at private schooling operations.
By the way, there is a great video on YouTube of Matt Damon talking about some of this, short and sweet. Take a look!