Khan Academy: basic information and history
Khan Academy is free of charge tutoring website, YouTube channel as well as an app which objective is to provide each person from any country of the world and of any age with accessible education. The website contains thousands of videos created with an educational purpose. All of them are offered in accordance with the efficiency level and accompanied by practice exercises that give an instant feedback. It is meant mainly for people, who wish to enrich the existing basic knowledge or revise some information, but still, some individuals manage to learn something absolutely new.
Founded in 2006 by Salman Khan, a specialist in math, computer science, engineering, and business, it was originally aimed at students, who wanted to improve basic math skills. But eventually, it has grown into a separate online educational institute that develops on a daily basis.
The idea of such a website creation came to Sal in 2004. According to Khan Academy history, he was tutoring his cousin on the Web with the help Yahoo Doodle Images service. In some time, other cousins started using the tutorial and Khan decided to publish the videos on YouTube. That was the beginning of the story, while in 2009 due to a variety of positive responses, Sal left his job and devoted his time to schooling and tutorials. Today it is a non-profit organization that exists thanks to donations for the most part.
Most of the videos are shot in the form of lectures accompanied by drawings on the electronic blackboard. Each registered user has his personal dashboard that allows studying at the learners’ own pace from any place using the Internet connection. Each learner can choose a subject he is interested in and the level required. Such learning is a kind of personal adaptive technology that helps to identify strengths as well as fill in the knowledge gaps. All the users are encouraged not only to study but also evaluate videos to help others realize if it suits personally for them. They can comment each video, rate it as well as ask questions connected with its content.
Khan Academy has gained recognition of millions of people for the time of its existence. It is preferred by 40 million students as well as 2 million teachers each month and offers over 1 billion educational videos. No wonder that today it has a partnership with popular worldwide institutions like state museums, science academies and even NASA and NBA. The latest achievement of the Academy (Khan has prepared it for cartoon lovers) is a contract with Walt Disney Studio.
Khan Academy English version is the most visited one. But the popularity of the learning tool resulted in the translation of its resources into 36 languages as well as several versions of the website in different languages.
As it was mentioned already, every person can study at Khan Academy without any restrictions. There are lessons mainly for students and adults but the smallest learners are not deprived too. Kids can use Khan Academy website under their parents’ supervision, as parents can control the learning pace with the help of the dashboard.
The dashboard is rather user-friendly and there are recommendations of the lessons based on the progress. While the latest versions of Khan Academy Android app and one for iPad allow downloading videos to watch them offline.
Apart from learning from home Khan institute was established as a good supplement to school and college courses. Each teacher can use videos and exercises in the classroom to make learning more interactive, exciting and productive. Moreover, there is an opportunity for teachers to create classes and add their students to it on the website. By doing so teachers can assign tasks and ask students to watch the necessary video at home to discuss it next lesson in the classroom – a perfect way to encourage students to learn and save the time of the lesson for other important topics.
Who makes educational videos for the website? In accordance with information written in almost each Khan Academy review, there is a professional team of content specialists each majoring in his or her sphere. On the website, you can find short biographies of every teacher as well as learn about his or her pedagogical experience. There are no occasional people in the team as only a quality content is submitted. In addition, there are representatives of some renowned institutions and organizations like Pixel or different American museums, who provide content too.
What makes Khan Academy classes unique? It is not only a possibility to study online and at your own pace, but also a variety of different subjects you can opt for. Though initially the website was created exclusively for a mathematician, the list of modern subjects available for students is much wider. Math lessons can be chosen both by subject and by grade, while other disciplines offer several sub-categories to prefer. There are 6 main categories of subjects:
- Math: a learner can choose a level starting from kindergarten, school grade and finishing with high school. There are also such sub-categories as arithmetic, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, statistics and probability, math for fun etc.
- Science & Engineering: including physics, biology, chemistry, health and medicine, astronomy etc.
- Computing: including programming, computer science, coding, animation.
- Art & Humanities: including grammar, music, history, arts etc.
- Economics & Finance: micro- and macroeconomics, capital markets, entrepreneurship etc.
- Preparation for tests: SAT, GMAT, IIT JEE etc.
There is nothing difficult in starting learning using Khan Academy website. The home page of the website offers three variants of the start:
- You can choose a subject.
- You can opt for one of the buttons offering a start for learners, teachers or parents.
- You can click on Khan Academy sign in page and create your dashboard (that can be done using a Google, Facebook account or creating a new one using e-mail).
Users, who prefer the last variant, get their profile page where they may follow their progress, get badges or points for completed exercises, discuss different issues, add new coaches etc.
There is also an opportunity to act as a coach and invite students to your group to follow their progress.
There are several reasons why Khan Academy has become so popular among learners and most of them can be referred to unmatched benefits of Khan classes:
- A variety of subjects to learn;
- Free of charge education;
- Learning at your own pace;
- Highly qualified tutors;
- Different efficiency levels;
- Easy sign-up;
- Tracking of the progress;
- Availability for foreigners due to the big number of languages it is translated to;
- A possibility to learn online on the website, on YouTube and mobile applications;
- Offline viewing of downloaded videos through the app;
- Constant development of the academy (e.g. a plan to create for a Khan Academy free SAT Prep Program for extra learning materials);
- Comments and rates are provided only by those people, who have watched the video;
- Simple and comprehensive website interface;
- An encouraging and time-savvy educational approach that can be used by every teacher at the lessons and allows controlling students and their learning progress;
- A perfect supportive resource for learners;
- Praise (badge getting) for mastering new skills etc.
Unfortunately, there is not a single Khan Academy review that mentions some its drawbacks in comparison with other online learning tools. There are several disadvantages formulated by its users:
- The list of subjects is not as wide as on other resources;
- Knowledge assessment is made by a machine only;
- No exact information about deadlines and finish of subject learning that may lead to disappointment and exhaustion;
- Absence of certification and crediting;
- Bad influence on eyesight etc.
Khan Academy learners choose this service because of a great number of benefits it offers. There are hardly any other online tools, where everything is explained so well that even a small child can understand math after the first watching. Moreover, only acknowledged and educated people teach learners and that contributes to the productivity of each person’s result. Khan Academy has been recognized a good supportive resource by millions of people though with a couple of minor drawbacks.
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Also published on Medium.