Khan Academy for All
The latest "Tech Talk" column
In 2004, Salman Khan — the son of Indian immigrants and a graduate of MIT and Harvard University — began remotely tutoring his cousin, who was struggling in math. He used the technology he had at hand: a telephone and Yahoo Doodle.
Shortly after, Khan’s brothers also wanted to take advantage of his tutoring services. And soon, other family members asked for help. Scheduling these tutoring sessions after working all day started to become a problem, so Khan decided to record videos of his lessons and post them on YouTube for all to see. That was the beginning of Khan Academy, an online tutoring website Khan officially founded in 2008 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Today, people of all ages turn to Khan Academy for help with specific subjects, test prep and more. To use it, students must create a free account at khanacademy.org, then they can access courses covering the following subjects: math by grade or subject; science and engineering; computing; arts and humanities; economics and finance; test prep and more. As your student begins a new school year, consider checking out these popular Khan Academy offerings.
Khan Academy Kids
The Khan Academy Kids app, designed for ages 2-6, features thousands of games, books, songs and activities that help children build skills in reading, language, writing, math, social-emotional development, problem-solving skills and motor development. Users have access to engaging content from Super Simple Songs, Bellweather Media and National Geographic Young Explorer Magazine. An adaptive learning path allows each child to progress at his or her own pace. Kids can read books on their own, or follow along with recorded audio narrations. Ratings include 5 stars for educational value and ease of play from Common Sense Media, as well as a gold award from the Parents’ Choice Foundation. The app is free and available for Apple and Android devices.
SAT Test Prep
Through an arrangement with the College Board, Khan Academy users can link PSAT test results to their Khan Academy account in order to receive personalized recommendations based on their performance. When setting up this customized program, users are asked to select their SAT test date, then Khan Academy suggests a practice schedule based on the time left before the test date. Once the SAT has been taken, those results are automatically linked to the student’s account for future test prep recommendations. This schedule provides opportunities for users to answer practice questions that target where they need to improve most. It also incorporates full-length practice tests. A student who has a two-month lead time, for example, will be asked to schedule two or three practice question sessions per week, and at least one practice test per month.
If your student hasn’t taken the PSAT yet, he or she can take a diagnostic test that will serve the same purpose and create a customized SAT practice plan based on his or her results. According to Khan Academy, 20 hours of test practice via this program is associated with an average 115-point score increase from the PSAT to the SAT — nearly double the average gain without using the program.
Other Khan Academy courses focus on physics, chemistry, engineering, history, grammar, reading comprehension and economics. The site’s College Admissions section offers guidance on making high school count, getting involved in extracurricular and leadership activities, and writing admissions essays. Clearly, what started out as a math tutoring website has evolved into much more. It’s worth a visit — and may save your student time and headaches later on in the classroom.
Beth Shugg is the editor of Carolina Parent and mom to three kids, one of whom is majoring in computer science at Virginia Tech and another who just graduated with a physics degree and started his first job as a data scientist.