Khan Academy is a non-profit with an online learning platform offering free lessons in math, science, and many other K-12 and higher education subjects. Whether you want to brush up on div, grad, and curl concepts, review differential equations, help a student prepare for standardized tests, or study in a classroom, this free resource offers world-class self-paced educational videos to anyone anywhere. It currently serves more than 2.9 million viewers every month.
Videos, Exercises, and Dashboards
Khan Academy offers educational videos, exercises, and data dashboards for progress monitoring. Thousands of videos cover basic skills on topics such as mathematics, science, finance, economics, humanities, and test prep and have had more than 140 million views since its inception.
Practice exercises reward users with points for correct answers and completion. They contain links to the videos that explain the concepts when more information is needed. Some exercises are dynamic, like graphs that students can manipulate to see how they change when equations change, or sliding data points on number lines to indicate correct answers.
Khan Academy students learn at their own pace. The site offers a skill progress dashboard, showing progress at-a-glance and rates the units as started, proficient, reviewed, or struggling. The dashboard makes it easy for students to see where they are, their accomplishments, and what's next. It's also easy to see where a student had trouble.
Helping Teach STEM Subjects in Schools
While the videos and exercises can be accessed via website and videos downloaded for offline use through an app, they are also used in and out of the classroom to help teach or supplement STEM subjects.
Teachers at Oakland Unity High School, an independent urban charter school in California, piloted Khan Algebra videos and exercises in a rotational learning lab. The school's algebra teacher, Peter McIntosh, says the tool reaches students and changes their learning habits.
Sal Khan (left) Founder & Executive Director of Khan Academy, and his team. Image source: Khanacademy.org
He says that students don't guess during the exercises since most are fill-in-the-blank, not multiple choice. They don't copy because questions are randomly generated. They like the interface and can replay the videos until they understand the information presented. Improving factors such as these resulted in "significant engagement time and real improvements in test scores."
Students say it's fun because you try to get "energy points" and get badges.
Students are excited about using Khan Academy, and excited when they learn something and make progress. Some students appreciate being able to go ahead of their peers and regular classes into subjects that are more interesting or challenging.
Using Social Aspects in Learning
Khan Academy's goal and vision is to provide individualized, self-paced, mastery-based learning to the students. It provides a framework for nontraditional learning, empowering students to learn on their own and be responsible for their own progress. When used in a classroom or laboratory setting, learning becomes more interactive and experiential. Students teach each other and consult teachers with specific questions. Students can continue outside of school, anywhere there is a computer, and teachers can look at the dashboards and determine what to cover in the classroom depending on the students' progress.
Viewers can post, read, and answer questions about each video with a format similar to comments underneath a blog post. These questions and answers can also be a useful part of the learning process.
Users can login with Google or Facebook or create their own login. As students complete exercises and earn accomplishment "badges," they can share their Khan Academy activity and even individual videos on Facebook's timeline.
More than 1 million users access Khan Academy from outside the U.S., and volunteers add subtitles to videos in more than 50 languages. As it expands, Khan Academy hopes to translate its exercises and dashboards and add more languages.
Debbie Sniderman is CEO of VI Ventures LLC, a technical consulting company.
Thousands of videos cover basic skills on topics such as mathematics, science, finance, economics, humanities, and test prep and have had more than 140 million views since its inception.