Khan Academy is an online math program invented by self-proclaimed nerd Salman Khan. Khan Academy lets students learn and grasp math concepts for free. The site, featuring over 250 math lessons, now has over 2 million users daily. The site has even managed to get the attention of Bill Gates who has donated over 1.5 million dollars, and has captured the attention of the public, and many controversial opinions.
Hadley Frazier, a student of Cascades Montessori Middle School and daily user of Khan Academy, when asked if she prefers Khan over math instruction in school answered, “I like both in different ways. In Khan I can do it by myself, be free on my own time, and work on my own level. In school it’s nice to do more interactive stuff with friends and teachers and I would say it’s slightly easier to learn from Mike (teacher) because he can answer specific questions.”
It seems students all over the United States view Khan this way, and many have adopted it as a daily activity to work their brains. This said, many parents and critics think the site is over-used. For example, a fifth grade class in Los Altos, California have already started calculus problems on Khan, and teachers have been modifying their entire curriculums because of how motivated their students have become to earn badges by completing lessons, and watching videos. This raises the question how many of these students use Khan because of the learning they get out of it, or rather the badges they earn.
To address this question, when I asked Hadley why she uses Khan, she answered, “I use Khan because it’s my homework. It’s helpful to do both because it’s easy, convenient and right there.”
No matter what kind of opinions there are about Khan Academy, many have said it’s a very useful tool to learn new math concepts and review old. Though many see a positive side to this, other’s think some young kids’ motivation for working on this site lies in the wrong place. For if children are “playing” on this site simply for the motivation of earning badges rather than learning, this begs the question just how close video games and learning should be. This controversial question has now become one of the main in education, and it’s now time we answer it.
- Thompson, Clive. “How Khan Academy is Changing the Rules of Education”. WiredMagazine.com. July 15, 2011. Web. 12-8-2011. < http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/07/ff_khan/all/1>.