Khan Academy

Common Sense Media says

Great academic videos with math practice for skills mastery.

Age(i)

2
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9
10
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The site can help kids become more resourceful and independent in their learning.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

There is no advertising of any kind on the site.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Khan Academy's terms of service give detailed information about privacy and safety on the site, even for children younger than 13. However, if users opt to create an account using their Google or Facebook login information, some personal information will be shared between the sites. The Khan Academy terms of service alerts users to "review and, if appropriate, modify your privacy settings on such services."

Parents Need to Know

Khan Academy is a free website comprising thousands of educational videos aimed at self-paced instruction. Although most widely known for its math videos, Khan Academy offers tutorials on a wide range of other subjects as well. Kids might find themselves using the site as part of a school assignment or as a way to practice math concepts for test prep. They might even want to explore the site for their own enjoyment. For math concepts -- from upper-elementary through college-level -- the site offers an almost unlimited number of practice exercises, organized by topic, with instant feedback and progress data. However, parents should know that the site will work best for kids who need procedural help, rather than conceptual understanding, whether they're looking for intervention or enrichment.

Kids are encouraged to sign up using a Google or Facebook account. However, it's also possible to sign up with an email address. Once logged in, kids can monitor their math progress on a personal dashboard. The videos are short and are presented in a casual and unrehearsed yet engaging style. Many of the math videos cover basic skills and are about mastering procedures rather than conceptual understanding. Users can rate the pace of each video, leave comments, and ask and answer content-related questions.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • geometry
  • algebra
  • calculus

Science

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • history
  • the economy

Arts

  • painting
  • sculpture

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving
  • applying information
  • asking questions

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • goal-setting
  • self-assessment

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Videos are simple, with Sal Khan's casual and friendly voice. Although the videos may be challenging for younger kids, high school students will find them easy to understand. Badges and points help motivate without being too childish.

Learning Approach

Although thoroughly educational, most math videos focus on procedure rather than on conceptual depth. In general, lessons are very instructive but could do more to invite critical and investigative thinking.

Support

Hints and videos embedded in each problem provide excellent scaffolding and support. The site gives instant feedback, and progress is clearly illustrated. Overall progress is tracked on each user's personal dashboard.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • geometry
  • algebra
  • calculus

Science

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • history
  • the economy

Arts

  • painting
  • sculpture

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • problem solving
  • applying information
  • asking questions

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • goal-setting
  • self-assessment

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn and review basic arithmetic skills and procedures found in math courses from prealgebra through college. There also are videos on a wide range of other subjects, including cryptography, science, the humanities, and computer programming. A growing number of videos and practice problems are now aligned with the Common Core Standards, and the site outlines this. Videos show problems from the national math contest as well as from practice standardized tests. Overall, Khan Academy is a solid resource for learning basic math procedures as well as foundational knowledge in a number of other subjects.

This Learning Rating review was written by Susan Yudt

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

KHAN ACADEMY's creator, Salman Khan, is best known for his extensive library of math videos, some of which he originally created to help tutor his younger cousins. Today, the site has a growing library of five- to 20-minute videos on a variety of basic -- and not-so-basic -- academic subjects. Salman is still a narrator for many of the site's videos, and his casual, unrehearsed style can make you feel as if he's right there in the room.

Users can watch any video or practice any skill at any time when using the site. In the math section, there's an option to start with a pretest, after which the site will recommend a lesson as an entry point and continue to recommend lessons thereafter. Within each tutorial, every math problem includes hints, and the videos have links to support further learning. Other subjects include numerous science, economics, and humanities subjects such as Art History, World History, and American Civics. Kids can sign up with a coach (a teacher, parent, or tutor) who can monitor their progress and suggest lessons. Kids also can earn badges and energy points, which are meant to engage and motivate. The custom dashboard has a progress map that fills up as kids work their way through the skills.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Khan Academy is designed for self-paced learning, and, in general, it's a solid resource to supplement classroom instruction on basic math skills. It's not, however, a standalone math course. The videos tend to be more procedural than conceptual and may, at times, contain minor inconsistencies that could confuse some learners. However, recent additions include videos on the "why of algebra," and some of the older videos have been updated with more polished instruction. High school-age kids are most likely to find the site useful and appealing.

The site is continually growing, and updates include a broader range of subjects and lessons, collaborations with the Stanford Medical School, and even math and science explorations with NBA star LeBron James. The dashboard has improved over previous versions: lessons are recommended based on progress, and navigation is easier. A companion iPad app allows video downloads for offline viewing, and there's even a new version of the site in Spanish. There's also a new Coach Resources section, aimed at parents, tutors, and teachers, with helpful tutorials on using the site. Parents and tutors may find some of the case-study videos particularly useful in helping kids get the most out of the site. Based on its popularity, the site is likely to keep growing. As Sal has said, "What you see today at Khan Academy is a very crude approximation of where we'll be in five or 10 years."

Families can talk about...

    • Families can talk about the pros and cons of technology-based learning. Ask questions such as, "How is technology changing people's access to education?"
    • Talk to your kids about different learning styles, and ask them to self-reflect: which teaching styles might suit them best as learners?

    Website details

    Genre:Educational
    Pricing structure:Free

    This review of Khan Academy was written by

    Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

    About our rating system

    • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
    • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
    • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
    • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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    Quality

    Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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    Learning ratings

    • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
    • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
    • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
    • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
    • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
    • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

    Find out more

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    What parents and kids say

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    Teen, 13 years old Written byRodeo-Girl October 24, 2010
    AGE
    10
    QUALITY
     

    Great! Probably the best educational tool on the 'net

    Great, and comprehensive. I could go on forever, but this site is on for Any age, and any subject. We use this in school almost daily, and it is just great!
    What other families should know
    Educational value
    Great messages
    Kid, 12 years old November 16, 2011
    AGE
    12
    QUALITY
     

    A's for kids

    I think if your kid make bad grades this is the Khan Academy to make all A's just staight A's.
    Teen, 13 years old Written bystraitaz123 September 11, 2014
    AGE
    10
    QUALITY
     
    LEARNING

    Horrible Experience

    I went on to practice some geometry and trigonometry, and I watched the video. I thought I got what he was saying, but when I took the test, what was on it was totally irrelevant to what the guy said. Really disapointed. I'm going to have to use another site.

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