Khan Academy is one of the best examples of how internet technology is used to make online learning a free, quality enterprise. It was originally developed by entrepreneur, MIT and Harvard graduate Salman Khan in response to helping his young cousin, located over 2,000 miles away across the country, learn basic mathematics concepts. Khan’s method of instruction eventually evolved into using YouTube videos to teach more young family members. His students quickly took up the short videos, finding they could easily repeat them and learn at their own pace.
Khan soon saw that his packages of k-12 learning videos were not only accessible to youth, but the individualized pace of study that they allowed was particularly attractive. His short instructional videos on YouTube soon gathered a large fan base, many accolades and won many supporters. The Gates foundation provided the Khan Academy with development capital and began promoting it as an exemplary model for education.
The California Los Altos public school district adopted the Khan Academy as a pilot program. Teacher Kami Thordarson , at the district’s Santa Rita Elementary school, has had some success with her 10-year-olds. She essentially flipped her usual teaching style around to work better alongside Khan’s platform.
Thordarson’ students view the Khan Academy videos at home to learn the basic concepts, and then they spend class time solving problems. Instead of delivering lectures, Thordarson uses information from the Khan digital dashboard, which tracks the individual problems and progress of her students, to provide one-to-one instruction to those requiring specific help.
Today, the online Khan Academy has evolved into over 2,700 self-learning videos covering K-12 mathematics to advance math subjects such as calculus and linear algebra. Expanded subject matter now includes structured video modules in such areas as chemistry, biology, art history, finance and history.
While elementary and high school students are able to use Khan Academy videos to study simple equations, functions and rational equalities, art students can absorb video lessons on the Roman Pantheon or works by such artists as Monet, Kandisky and de Kooning. There are lessons for computer science students on the Python programming language and lessons in economics.
The Khan Academy is a powerful expression of free, quality online education that can work for all. Used in schools, it is an excellent tool that may accompany other tools used by the teacher. With Khan Academy, the future speaks well for any online student.