The Khan Academy is a free resource for online education in math and other subjects. Their website defines the organization as “a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”
In 2006, Boston resident Sal Khan offered his New Orleans cousins remote math tutoring in a format that was unconventional at the time. Khan created video tutorials and posted them on YouTube.
“[My cousins] told me that they preferred me on YouTube than in person,” said Khan in his 2011 TED talk. “[With YouTube,] they can pause and repeat their cousin, without feeling like they’re wasting my time.”
Other math students began to discover the videos online, and the tutorials gained a following. Khan realized his videos were an asset for many learners, thus the Khan Academy was born.
Khan explains that the viewer can review something they should have learned in the past without feeling embarrassed.
The website is divided into two sections for students. The first section contains the original group of videos, which has grown to over 3,200. The videos are primarily focused on math, but also include subjects such as science, finance and economics, humanities and test prep along with talks and interviews.
The second part of the website has practice exercises for math and telling time. These exercises range from basic addition all the way to calculus. The purpose of these exercises is to test the mastery of the student on individual types of math problems before moving on.
Progress through topics can be tracked individually by the student, a teacher or a tutor called a coach.
One of the ways the website keeps pupils coming back is a game-like system. For every video watched and every exercise correctly answered, the player gets “Energy Points.” The website also awards badges such as “Ten to the Fifth” when the learner gets to 100,000 energy points.