I have previously reviewed the Khan Academy platform and iPhone app on this site. They do have an iPad specific app as well, and I thought it’d be good to review that independently as well.
Obviously, the main activity within the Khan Academy is watching videos. Sal Khan started the site by posting videos explaining math and science topics to Youtube, and so the learning platform is centered around that activity. So both the iPhone and iPad platforms are very good at allowing viewers to find the video content and watch the videos. These apps succeed at this core activity.
Perhaps where the apps fall short are supporting the other features that the Khan Academy web site offers. For example, students can earn badges by taking and passing a series of math tests. This is a whole “test-focused” area of the site, focusing on skills and mastery. In fact, when you log into the Khan Academy website, this is the main thing you see. So while the apps focus on a small portion (the original portion) by giving you access to the Khan videos, they don’t allow you to progress through any badges or skills you are in the middle of trying to master.
Also, although the app is simple to use, it is in need of a UI designer. It’s likely that the developers of this app were able to leverage some existing controls to create the UI, but this app really is in need of some custom design work to make it stand out from the crowd. Compare this app to the Udacity iPad app side-by-side, and you will see a stark difference.
Perhaps since Khan Academy is a non-profit, they are focused on delivering the videos in the more cost-effective way possible. But someone should be able to donate their time to create a nice looking app for them.
Overall, the app does what it intends to do – delivers the Khan videos in an easy-to-navigate form to the mobile device. But ultimately, Khan Academy is so much more than just the videos, and the apps don’t do a good job of exposing those features.