Many students become frustrated with math, particularly when the concepts become more complex as they advance through elementary and middle school. Teachers have to tackle these challenges, often in non-traditional ways.
Khan Academy curates a collection of more than 5,000 videos designed to teach students math processes and concepts by drawing out the problems on a digital whiteboard for students to see. Nearly 3,500 videos in the collection are on math subjects. Khan Academy’s website also hosts 100,00 practice problems for students looking to test their learning.
Teachers have been integrating use of Khan Academy into their math curriculums since the Academy’s founding in 2006. The non-profit began when Salman Khan, the owner, was making some videos for his cousin who needed tutoring. He began helping other people and started to upload his videos to YouTube for convenience. He began hearing from people who had seen the videos, sharing success stories coming from around the world. Khan was so motivated and inspired by the success of his videos that he ended up quitting his full time job to focus entirely on these video tutorials, creating Khan Academy in the process.
The Gates Foundation has assisted in funding Khan Academy. In the interest of maximizing the use of the videos as a classroom tool, the Foundation commissioned a study from SRI International to see what keeps the Academy videos from being effective in the classroom setting. Predictably, using the videos in a classroom where there is little technology available in the form of tablets and notebooks makes the program less effective.
Generally, Khan Academy is well received by students. According to the study, 71% of students said using Khan Academy’s video tutorials helped them, and 32% said they liked math better after watching the Academy videos.
Most of the teachers in the study only used Khan Academy as a supplement to their typical instruction. The practice problems sometimes proved to be too difficult for students to handle without additional instruction. Since the study, Khan Academy has modified their content to be more in line with the Common Core curriculum that’s becoming standard in many American states.
Over all, Khan Academy is a great tool for giving students a better chance at success with more complex math concepts. It does not effectively replace a traditional classroom experience, but it does serve as a strong supplement for struggling students.