Khan Academy is a ground-breaking website aimed at tutoring K12 (Kindergarten to Grade 12) students the basic math and science subjects. Salman Khan, the founder, started tutoring his niece in math. When others asked for help as well, he shared those videos on Youtube. And when those videos proved popular and people were clamoring for more, he decided to quit his job and make it his mission to provide free training to the world.
The training, as you would expect, is fairly well done. Sal and his team tend to draw the concept as they are explaining it. The videos are only a few minutes each, and the teacher draws out the concepts (along with hand-writing the numbers) to highlight each concept. Since it’s a video, you can stop, pause, rewind, and skip ahead. It’s truly learn at your own pace.
One of the things that puts Khan Academy above the rest is it’s mobile app. This puts the hundreds of Khan Academy videos right on your iPad, iPhone or iPod.
The app is free, but available for iOS only. There are some apps in the Google Play store that try to help you get access to the Khan Academy videos, but these are unofficial and not recommended.
The app itself is very straightforward. As you might expect, it leads you straight to the video training, without much else. While the desktop website contains more sophisticated features, the app is actually refreshing in its simplicity. And as with most movies and other videos, it’s actually better to use the app on the iPad. This leaves a lot more room to see the content. And on the iPad version, the navigation between videos can even stay on the screen while you’re watching something.
To be honest, the Khan Academy videos are a bit simplistic for adult learners. Coursera aims to bring university level education to the world, while Khan is attempting to do the same for primary and secondary school aged students. But don’t mistake the basic topics for being easy. Math is a course many of us did not enjoy or excel at in our younger days. Going through these videos, we can all learn something. Moving on to more sophisticated topics like Economics, there are things that were not covered in school. Can you explain how call and put options work? Do you understand a Long Straddle?
Khan Academy is definitely aimed at the elementary and high-school set, and at this it excels. If you child is struggling with math or science topics, you should be investigating Khan Academy videos as the first step to tutoring them. And if you have an interest in math, science or economics topics yourself, this could be a good place to start. Having the videos on your iPhone to listen to on the way to work definitely beats listening to the radio.