Khan Academy is an online educational website created by Salman Khan – but is it right for you? In this Khan Academy review, we will tell you everything you need to know.
The goal of Khan Academy is to offer a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.
The site offers over 3,400 video lessons in math, science, computer programming, and test preparation which are hosted on YouTube. It has been praised by many educators as a tool for students to learn independently at their own pace without having to pay large amounts of money for tutoring classes or coursework.
In this comprehensive review of Khan Academy, we will tell you everything you need to know to figure out whether this online education platform is the one you’ve been waiting for.
What is Khan Academy?
Khan Academy is an online educational website that offers more than 3,000 free instructional videos to learn about math and science. It was created by a former hedge-fund manager, Salman Khan, who wanted to offer the world—especially those in the developing world—to have access to education without needing money or specialized online courses.
If you want to go online to advance your understanding of a topic, Khan Academy is one of the best online learning platforms for you to consider. Each lesson contains components such as readings, videos, and other interactive elements that are sequenced so you can start right from square one.
Khan Academy has a sweet origin story. It all started back in 2006 when the founder Salman (known affectionately as Sal) Khan began tutoring a cousin in mathematics. He used the Internet for this, relying heavily on a tool known as Yahoo! Doodle Images.
Eventually, many of Khan’s other relatives began to use the service for its math courses and Khan chose to make his instructional videos watchable to the rest of the world as a result of this increased demand.
After publishing content via YouTube, Khan began to use other tools like SmoothDraw and ArtRage to create new video tutorials. As demand grew and more users hopped on the “Khan Academy” bandwagon (though it had yet to be coined as such), Khan quit his full-time job and chose to focus solely on this new endeavor.
In 2017, the Khan Academy that we know and love today was launched, with the founding fueled primarily by donations from various philanthropic organizations.
The goal of Khan Academy is to provide a free, hands-on learning experience built mostly on instructional videos. It can be accessed via a mobile device with videos displaying drawings on a virtual blackboard. It mimics the experience of an instructor delivering a lecture at the front of the classroom, with each lessons’ narrator describing the drawings and their relevance to what is being taught.
How Does Khan Academy Work?
Khan Academy is much like all of the other online learning platforms we’ve reviewed in that you’ll be able to watch video lectures and engage in interactive, multiple-choice quizzes to test your knowledge of the subject.
Of course, it has several other built-in features for you to enjoy too. When you enroll, you will be able to access not only the video lectures but also quick reading assignments, comment and discussion boards, and more.
Each course is broken down into several distinctive units. These units contain lessons and each lesson contains different elements depending on the topic, including quizzes, readings, videos, and other assignments. It’s just like classroom-based learning but far more convenient!
Features and Functionality
Though designed primarily for American students, Khan Academy is accessible just about everywhere and available in multiple languages. Many courses follow the traditional American K-12 curriculum. Here are some other features of this online learning platform.
Wide Selection of Topics Covered
Khan Academy, as mentioned, tends to stick to the American K-12 curriculum and covers a wide variety of topics.
You can take classes in things such as:
- Science and engineering
- Arts and humanities
- Test and college prep
- English language arts
These are broader categories, of course, with separate topics and courses within each category.
There are even courses geared toward students in elementary school, such as mathematics and English language arts specifically for students at the first, second, and third-grade levels.
Khan Academy has a unique style of teaching in that lessons utilize a virtual blackboard. Though this is not a feature in every single class, it is a staple of many courses.
This feature makes using Khan Academy quite similar to the real, in-person classroom experience. You’ll be able to see what the teacher is doing as he works through problems – you just won’t see that teacher himself! Being able to see these sorts of explanations offers visual learners a great way to master the content they are being taught, though for some it might seem a bit repetitive.
At Khan Academy, students can even take Advanced Placement courses. Although you won’t receive AP credit for taking AP classes at Khan Academy, like you might if you were taking AP classes at your home district, you can still receive excellent preparation (and free preparation, we might add!) for this exam by pursuing that pathway at Khan Academy.
If repetition is what helps you learn best, then you’ll love all the practice questions you will have access to at Khan Academy.
The platform has thousands of practice problems and articles to help you master a wide range of subjects. There are test prep questions and modules you can move through, too, including those for the SAT, ACT, and MCAT.
Quizzes and Games
Another feature of Khan Academy – and one that happens to be beloved by countless Khan Academy students- is the gamification element of the platform. You’ll work your way through the material at your own pace and the site will keep track of your progress (as long as you have taken the time to create an account, that is).
You’ll be able to monitor all kinds of vital information about how you are doing, from which texts you have read to your scores on exams and quizzes to even how much time you spend watching certain lessons!
The more you learn, the more points you will earn, along with badges for accomplishing various milestones.
Khan Academy is unique from many other kinds of online learning platforms in that everything is sequential. Each unit and lesson builds upon the last and provides the foundational skills and training that you need to master the next section.
That’s an important feature of this platform to note because it means that you probably won’t be able to jump around quite as much on this platform as you might on others. Although you can certainly skip around if you feel you have already mastered the content in a certain section, it’s not a good idea, in general, to plow through sections without actually mastering the content in each first.
Khan Academy Pricing Model
Because Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization (it’s certified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in fact!) All courses here are completely free.
When we say that Khan Academy is free, we don’t just mean that there’s a free trial – it is totally, 100% free. You don’t even need to make an account or provide any credit card information!
There are, of course, various benefits to creating an account and signing in, so consider taking the time to do so. If you make an account, you will be able to login and track your progress in certain courses. You can also give a tutor, teacher, or parent access to your learning history so that they can assign various assignments or projects to you.
Khan Academy has wonderful customer support, something that you will quickly realize when you notice how many updates and “facelifts” the company has gone through in recent years. The team at Khan Academy is constantly and thoughtfully responding to customer inquiries and complaints in an attempt to make the platform as user-friendly as possible.
If you need to get in touch with someone at Khan Academy with a question or complaint, you can visit the “help” section of the Khan Academy website. Here, you can submit an inquiry to receive a response in around 24 hours or you can view the answers to frequently asked questions.
There are separate sections to navigate to if you’re having technical issues as well as an “ask the community” feature that will let you access tips, tricks, and helpful education resources from fellow Khan Academy users.
The Advantages (Pros) of Khan Academy
As a Khan Academy user, you’ll benefit from the following features.
Khan Academy offers videos in several languages with more than 20,000 subtitle translations available. Many of these are done on a volunteer basis.
You can access videos in about 28 other languages (though not all are offered for every single language) with options including English, Bulgarian, Bangal, Chinese, German, French, Norweigan, Georgian, Portugues, Polish, Spanish, Turkish, Uzbek, and Serbian to name a few.
Mastery Learning Process
Studying at Khan Academy offers students one of the best learning environments around. Here, you’ll be able to participate in online courses that can be individually tailored to your needs.
It uniquely emphasizes mastery learning, letting you move at your own pace so that you aren’t stuck sitting through a year’s worth of content that you already know. It focuses on accuracy rather than just completion, meaning you’ll get much more out of the classes you decide to take.
Khan Academy Fees Structure
Another major benefit of using this platform is in the Khan Academy fees structure. When you create an account and decide to learn here, you won’t have to pay a dime. The entire library of content, from the standards-aligned videos and lessons to the articles, practice questions, and quizzes, is available entirely free of charge.
This platform is financed solely by grants and by donations from individuals. There are no contracts required, no spam, and no ads – just learning! A Khan Academy subscription is not required – you don’t even have to create an account for log-in, if you don’t want to!
Although the classes on Khan Academy are sequential, meant to be completed in a certain order, all of the material you’ll be expected to master is entirely self-paced. You will be able to move through the curriculum at a pace that makes the most sense to you. You won’t have classmates or a certain timeline in which you need to accomplish certain tasks – everything is done based on your own preferences.
Great for Math Learners
If you are a mathematics teacher or a student who wants to improve your understanding of various math concepts, Khan Academy is the way to go. You’ll find everything from the most basic concepts all the way through to more complicated topics like calculus.
These courses are taught primarily through repetition, teaching students the skills and templates they need to solve future problems as well as the ones they are currently working at. Problems are randomly generated so you won’t have to work through the exact same practice problems each time, either – you’ll be able to try out new problems every time you sit down to work.
Additional Resources and Projects
Khan Academy is still a relatively young project but seems to release new features and programs on a regular basis.
For example, in 2015 the organization launched Pixar in a Box, a study program that teaches how skills that are taught by schools have helped the Pixar creators get where they are today. It is also the official SAT preparation website and launched an application known as Khan Academy Kids in 2018.
Khan Academy Kids is a program for young children who are interested in learning the basics of school (such as language arts and mathematics) before actually going to school.
Tools for Teachers
One of the most helpful features of Khan Academy—and something you won’t find on many other online learning platforms—is its section for teachers. If you are a classroom teacher who wants to move some or all of your teaching online, you can use Khan Academy to help you meet your goals.
You can set up your very own classroom here, using the platform to offer courses within the Khan Academy database. You will also be able to grade and track progress as your students work through the tutorials.
The Disadvantages (Cons) of Khan Academy
Of course, there are a few disadvantages to using Khan Academy as well. It’s important to note that many of the so-called “cons” of the platform are actively recognized by the leaders and team at the online platform. Khan Academy makes updates to its courses and features on an almost daily basis so ongoing issues are hard to find!
At its inception, Khan Academy was frequently criticized because the creator lacked a normal background in education and pedagogy. Some lessons, particularly those in advanced topics like physics, were questioned and criticized for their lack of technical accuracy.
However, Khan Academy has since responded to these criticisms and while there are still some issues with the learning quality here, the company now employs more than 200 content experts to fact-check all of its content.
That said, if you are a teacher looking to use Khan Academy to supplement your courses, it’s important that you view the online learning platform as just that—a supplement—and not a substitute for the work you are doing in the classroom. The content does have its limitations and should only be used as a complement and not a replacement to classroom instruction from a qualified, credentialed teacher.
Lack of Instructor Connections
Another perceived disadvantage of using Khan Academy is that you won’t be able to work directly with an instructor. This can be a downside for students who prefer having an assigned instructor that will provide personalized attention and respond to comments and questions.
While some of the more popular courses do have comment and Q&A sections, these aren’t built-in features for all courses. Everything is independent and meant to be an accompaniment to formal instruction from a regular classroom teacher so you should not expect to be able to work one-on-one with a specific Khan Academy instructor when you start taking classes here.
Khan Academy is not very interactive, providing little in the way of immediate feedback and personalization. If you have questions about specific problems, you’ll need to take them to someone else outside of the platform to get help.
There are multiple online learning platforms out there that enable students to work with other learners on collaborative projects. This is a great feature that allows you to bounce ideas off your peers and develop new ways of thinking.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t something you’ll find on Khan Academy. Although you might come up with a new way of thinking about a topic or a problem while you’re taking the class, you won’t be able to work with peers to explore more diverse schools of thought.
Khan Academy Alternatives
By far, Khan Academy is one of the best resources to consider if you are a younger student looking to fill in some gaps in core subject areas like mathematics and science.
However, if you are older and are looking for online platforms that will allow you to enhance your understanding of non-academic area (say, for example, if you want to learn how to write creatively or to cook) or if you want to take career-focused classes, there are a few alternatives to Khan Academy that you will want to consider.
Udemy is one of the largest and most noteworthy online learning platforms out there. Here, you’ll be able to access both free and paid courses, with prices varying from as little as a couple of dollars per course to several hundred dollars per course.
It’s easy to find what you’re looking for on Udemy, though, because this platform’s courses cover everything from sewing to cooking to calculus. The biggest disadvantage to using Udemy is that there are no third-party controls in terms of content quality. It can be tough to know exactly what kind of quality you’re getting in your courses.
While Khan Academy has experts on the team who regularly check each course for its content and accuracy, those sorts of controls are simply not in place with Udemy (though you can read past student reviews for each course to get an idea of what you are getting yourself into).
LinkedIn Learning, formerly referred to as Lynda, is another alternative to Khan Academy to consider. Here you will find some of the best courses for people who want to get ahead in their careers. You can post credentials from the class you take directly on your LinkedIn profile, allowing you to network and collaborate with other professionals and potential employers.
It is pricey, however, and better for business professionals than it is for younger students.
Skillshare is one of the best alternatives to Khan Academy if you are looking to take classes to inspire your creativity. Here, you’ll find classes in more creative disciplines, including those in technical fields like programming. Of course, it does require a subscription and is quite pricey, especially compared to Khan Academy’s free pricing model.
Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that provides free educational content. The website has over 3,000 videos about math, science, economics, and other subjects. While it might not be the perfect educational platform for everyone, hopefully, our review of Khan Academy has given you all the information you need to decide whether it might be right for you and your educational goals.
Is Khan Academy accredited?
Khan Academy offers courses and lectures on a variety of topics including math, science, economics, history, and computer programming. The organization has been criticized for not being accredited but still provides a great learning experience to students around the world.
Is Khan Academy trustworthy?
Khan Academy has lessons on everything from electrical engineering to mathematics, with interactive video lessons getting students of all backgrounds and learning styles involved in their education. But is it trustworthy? Absolutely. Khan Academy is an excellent resource to tap into if you want to improve your skills in mathematics, science, programming, or a related field.
How much does Khan Academy cost?
This is one of the biggest advantages of using Khan Academy – it is always free! All of Khan Academy’s videos, practice questions, lessons, and articles can be accessed completely free of charge, with zero ads, zero spam, and zero contracts required.
What age group is Khan Academy for?
Khan Academy is ideal for children who are as young as two years old in addition to those who are in college. While it’s best for kids in grades K-12, it is a valuable resource for learners of all ages.
Is Khan Academy good for homeschool?
If you are a homeschooled student or a homeschool instructor, Khan Academy is an excellent online education platform to consider. It has all kinds of resources you can use, including worksheets and practice questions, and the lessons are well-suited for a variety of ages and ability levels.
Is Khan Academy good for college students?
Khan Academy does have some content that is appropriate for college students, including lessons in history, science, grammar, and more. However, it is more appropriate for younger students, including those who are about to attend college and need to prepare for examinations like the SAT or AP test.