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Khan Academy

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Great academic videos with math practice for skills mastery.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Violence
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Sex
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Language
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Consumerism

There is no advertising of any kind on the site.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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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'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

    Subjects:Math: algebra, calculus, geometry
    Science: biology, chemistry, physics
    Social Studies: citizenship, history, the economy
    Arts: painting, sculpture
    Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, asking questions, problem solving
    Self-Direction: academic development, goal-setting, self-assessment
    Tech Skills: using and applying technology
    Genre:Educational
    Pricing structure:Free

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    What parents and kids say

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

    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
    Teen, 13 years old Written bystraitaz123 September 11, 2014

    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.
    Kid, 12 years old November 16, 2011

    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.

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