Khan Academy

An Open educational resource

History

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization with a mission to provide free education online. The founder, Salman Khan, began making YouTube videos to help tutor some distant family members and relatives, and he continued to make more videos as his channel increased in popularity. The organization was incorporated in 2008, and this open educational resource (OER) began to further develop into what is has become today.

Salman Khan explains how his journey began in the Ted Talk: Let’s use video to reinvent education. He explains that educators and a school board reached out to him in order to collaborate and create a software which gives teachers the ability to flip their classroom using his videos. His team began developing the platform they have today. Teachers have access to view their students’ progress and are better equipped to individualize instruction for each student.

Resources

When first signing up as a teacher, I was overwhelmed by the number of options I could choose from. The following image shows that this OER has a variety of material for Math (K-12), Science & Engineering, Computing, Arts & Humanities, Economics & Finance, as well as material to help guide people through challenging exams and personal growth in college. I chose to look into high school biology as this is something I am currently teaching.

Learning Platform

Of the many options, I choose to narrow in on reproduction and cell division. The image below shows what students would see when assigned a Khan assignment. Khan explains in the video above that this website encourages students to make mistakes, but it also encourages mastery knowledge of the content. This section shows that students have the potential to earn up to 500 mastery points.

Pro: Each section comes with a video for students to watch on the content, as well as a typed summary with visuals. Students are able to watch/read at their own pace, but can also just begin answering the questions. Students can earn a higher number of points by answering questions correctly. The software also provides explanations of wrong answers, so students can learn from their mistakes when they re-do a set of questions. When re-trying any given section for the second or third time, the questions completely change. This is beneficial so that students aren’t just looking for the right answer – they have to apply what has been learned to a new question.

Con: I was a little disappointed to see that the only questions in the lessons were multiple choice questions. It would have been nice if the software supported questions that were more interactive, such as matching or sorting drawings, or some sort of game that practices skills. The questions are good and comprehensive of the content taught. However, I found working through a series of videos, text, and multiple choice questions was tiring after 15 minutes. At the end of it all, it didn’t feel much different than working out of a textbook – except for the points awarded.

Learner Reward System

As previously mentioned, Khan Academy awards users points when completing sections. Under the profile section, users can view a summary of their progress. Learners can earn badges for a variety of reasons: achievements, mastery of content, creating a program, collaborating to change another user’s program, completing a coding challenge, etc. The list is quite extensive. In this regard, Khan Academy’s reward system is an example of gamification, which can be very motivating for learners.

Teacher Platform

When creating an account, users are able to use the platform as both learners and teachers. When creating a classroom, the platform is similar to Formative and EdPuzzle platforms. Students can be added to your ‘classroom’ in three ways: Imported from Google Classroom, students can join with a class code, and users can create student accounts manually.

Teachers have the ability to assign the class units, and view student data based on date, student, and content type. This is a great feature I love to use with other formative assessment tools to help track student progress and individualize learning. Although faint, the following is an example of what tracking might look like when adding students to your classroom.

Conclusion

Overall, I think this is a great resource to supplement teaching difficult concepts in a very clear and direct manner. For the unit I explored, the information was quite detailed and everything was accurate. Although I wouldn’t be inclined to use it to flip an entire classroom, I would use and recommend this resource in a variety of situations:

  • If students will be away from school for extended periods of time, Khan Academy could help students keep up with missed instruction time
  • If students finish their work early in class, this might be something to work on to help enrich learning experiences
  • I would use this myself if I needed to refresh my knowledge regarding a specific concept I needed to learn when prepping a new class
  • I would recommend this if I knew of someone struggling in the subject areas listed above – for parents and students alike

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