The Khan Academy: A Movement in Online Education

When you were a student did you ever wish your teacher had a pause and rewind button? They went through the material so quickly and you didn’t quite catch what they were saying and, to top it all off, you have a test the next time the class meets. What do you do…ask a friend? Ask the professor? Just hope that the material you missed won’t be on the test?

Most students are afraid to speak up when they don’t quite understand something. When they do take the test and don’t achieve a perfect score, but score high enough to pass, they forget about it and move on. The problem with that is most of the information is compounded upon for the following lessons and when the students don’t fully understand the basics, how are they going to understand the more complex problems?

Hedge fund analyst Salman Khan began posting math tutorials on YouTube for his cousins. His videos reached thousands of hits and he received comments stating how much his videos had helped. And thus, the Khan Academy was formed. By 2010, Khan had posted about 2,000 tutorial videos that get about 100,000 views around the world each day. The Khan Academy now consists of self-paced software and has more than 30 million lessons, making it the most-used educational video repository on the Internet. The video tutorials, all created by Salman, cover everything from basic addition to advanced calculus, physics, chemistry, finance, economics, and history.

He wanted to create these videos to help with the education gaps amongst students. Students who don’t understand basics concepts are doomed to fail if the professors do not take the time to explain those basics before moving on to more complex information. The Khan Academy has flipped the classroom; the works that students used to do as homework is now classwork and instead they watch the videos as homework. Similar to TED-Ed, these videos have questions that measure the students’ comprehension of the material. The program gives students as many questions as they need until they understand the concept.

Every student is able to work at their own pace. Their progress is recorded so teachers are able to track which students are struggling and are able to provide them with more attention and help them understand those concepts or have a student who has mastered that concept tutor them. The teachers are actually able to track them through the entire district. Through the school years, as the students switch teachers, they are able to have this continuity of data and know in what areas certain students have problems and how they can continue to help them understand those concepts.

The Khan Academy is perfect for anyone at any age. There are lessons about economics, the credit crisis, currency, higher education test preparation, venture capital, and capital markets. These videos can help people gain a better understanding of basic economics and finances that are relevant to anybody in any country. Last week they launched a new series of instructional videos which will cover the field of computer science.


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