By Don MacGillivray
In this period of school closures due to COVID-19, the education of children and teenagers is left to the resources of parents. Therefore many alternative learning options are being explored.
A relatively new source for at-home-learning is online programming provided by Khan Academy, grown into a surprisingly complete educational system over the last 12 years. They produce short lessons on a wide variety of subjects that include the basic classes of a K-12 education.
Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization supported by contributions from foundations so there is no cost involved in using their educational programs. It’s easy to use, quite comprehensive and the price couldn’t be better. Khan Academy may be a great resource for families involved with home-schooling and they provide ways to organize teaching programs utilizing their lessons.
The Academy was created in 2008 by Sal Khan with the goal of creating a set of online lessons in the form of YouTube videos. In recent years it has been expanded to include various materials for teachers and educators to assist students either individually or in the classroom.
The curriculum has been expanded to include lessons on many subjects, they have been translated into over 36 languages, and it now offers classes for all ages from preschool to senior citizens.
Ideal for many students that must learn at home, the advantage of learning on YouTube is that students can work at home at their own pace and repeat lessons they don’t understand.
Students are prompted to redo exercises until they gain proficiency. Each unit integrates quizzes and supplementary practice exercises and concludes with a test of the material. Students can set their own pace depending on the ease or difficulty of the material and this awards the successful student.
The videos display drawings on an electronic blackboard, which is similar to the style of a teacher giving a class presentation and the narrator describes each drawing and how it relates to the material being taught.
Parents and teachers can add individual student profiles. Adult learners can set up accounts for themselves. Throughout the lessons, users can earn rewards, which are displayed on their profiles.
When learning math, stay with it as long as necessary until you get it. Sometimes it will take several times through, but with repetition, mastery will be achieved.
Most things can be taught in this type of a framework. Some students may need some encouragement encountering difficulty so it is useful for someone to be nearby who can offer help when needed.
Khan, a graduate of MIT and Harvard, quickly developed his online learning platform beginning in 2005 to help students learn basic educational lessons at home on their computers. It soon became the Khan Academy and has grown into a comprehensive curriculum for students in kindergarten through college.
Funded mostly by donations from philanthropic organizations, Khan Academy was designed as a supplement to in-class learning. It has the ability to improve the effectiveness of teachers by freeing them from traditional lectures and giving them more time to tend to the needs to individual students.
Teachers can use the instructional videos and integrate them into the traditional classroom settings. This allows them to assign courses within Khan Academy’s database. Teachers can track students progress as they work through the assigned tutorials and will know what students have been doing and what is giving them difficulty.
It shows which kids are doing well and which advance more slowly. Students will go at whatever pace they are able and if necessary, parents or teachers can provide any needed assistance.
Visit khanacademy.org and click “Sign Up” to get started.