Khan Academy – A Great Resource for Students

Here is a great video from Salman Khan explaining how Khan Academy got started and why it works.  I’m a big fan of Khan Academy.  Being able to pause and rewind instructional videos can be a critical piece of learning for struggling students.

Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. We tackle math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. Our math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. We've also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.”

Having peers interact with each other in the comments of the videos adds additional value beyond being able to pause and rewind.  For students with attention deficit issues or learning disabilities visual presentation with an auditory component can simplify the learning process.  Even more important is the ability to review math and science components that build on each other.

Despite having good teachers, some students fail to master components of the building blocks for subjects like mathematics.  Mr. Khan has developed his video series to integrate into a knowledge map that builds off mastery of previously earned subjects.  The blocking and tackling enabled by determining proficiency at a subject on the Khan Academy website frees the teacher for time on other areas.  When a student is red flagged as struggling on a certain concept, the teacher can assign a tutor in class for that concept or review it in class if enough students are stuck.

I frequently assign students several Khan Academy videos per week to review in order to ensure mastery.  There is a wide array of videos available for no cost.  The feedback I’ve received from students is that they value the ability to pause and rewind difficult concepts, and also the opportunity to review without the embarrassment of having to self-identify in class when they are struggling.

The point and badge system Mr. Khan has integrated into his learning website also deserves praise.  Research into behavioral change has shown that just the act of monitoring behavior alone can increase (or decrease, if the goal is to extinguish) the occurrence of the targeted behavior.  This is also why I suggest a point or token system for beginning students to encourage selected behaviors like reading books independently.

You can see Mr. Khan’s video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM95HHI4gLk