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What is Khan Academy?

Khan Academy
(Image credit: Khan Academy)

Khan Academy is a free online teaching resource that offers courses to students to further deepen their knowledge to enhance learning for all.

Created by former financial analyst Salman Khan, it offers access to over 3,400 instructional videos as well as quizzes and interactive software to help elementary, middle, and high school students learn. It can be used both in and outside of the classroom since it's free and easily accessible from almost any device with a browser.

While the Khan Academy website was created to bring learning to those that either couldn't afford or didn't have access to education, it's now grown into a powerful resource used by many schools as a teaching aid.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about Khan Academy for teachers and students.

What is Khan Academy?

Khan Academy is primarily a website filled with useful content for learning,   organized by grade level, making it an easy way to advance in line with the curriculum. The course materials cover math, science, art history, and more.

The idea behind the academy is also to help students learn based on their abilities. It isn't age-based, as grades in schools are, and so the extra optional learning platform allows those ahead or behind to advance further or catch up at their own pace.

Khan Academy helps students that struggle with a topic to become more proficient. It also allows those who enjoy a topic to learn even more, driven by their enjoyment. This should help pupils to specialize and find themselves doing more of what they enjoy. An ideal start in finding a future career.

There is also a service for younger learners from ages two to seven, available in the app, Khan Academy Kids. 

Khan Academy

(Image credit: Khan Academy)

How does Khan Academy work?

Khan Academy uses videos, readings, and interactive tools to teach students. Since Khan himself was from a math background, the academy still provides very strong math, economics, and finance resources. It now also offers engineering, computing, arts, and humanities. Plus, there is test and career prep, and English language arts.

Another benefit is that there is no limit on the number of courses that can be taken. Classes are divided into useful subsections, such as precalculus or U.S. history, for example.

Materials are available in multiple languages, so more students can be learning the same course materials. Aside from English, other supported languages include Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese. 

Khan Academy

(Image credit: Khan Academy)

What are the best Khan Academy features?

One very powerful feature of Khan Academy is its ability to offer AP courses for college credit. These Advanced Placement courses allow high school students to complete a college course before they have paid for university. Then, by taking an exam at the end, they can earn course credit that can be used in their college. While  Khan Academy handles the teaching, the exam needs to be taken wherever its officially given for that school.

While courses are laid out in a way to teach before testing, using quizzes, it is possible to skip ahead if you've already covered an area. A great feature that keeps everything feeling fresh and exciting. 

Videos, many by creator Khan himself (who initially started this platform to tutor his nephew), are shot on a virtual background in which notes are written. This allows for both audio and visual input to support learning. 

Some very impressive specific videos made by great resources are available. For example, there is a TED Ed-made video, one by UNESCO and another made by The British Museum. 

The gamification side of learning uses quizzes, which are usually multiple choice. All that data is then collated and can be viewed. This includes time spent watching videos, reading text, and scores on quizzes. You earn points as you progress and even get badges as rewards. 

How much does Khan Academy cost?

Khan Academy, quite simply, is free. It's a nonprofit organization with a mission to "provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere." So don't expect it to start charging. 

You don't even need to make an account or provide any of your personal information to start using the resources. However, making an account does make it easier to track progress and to share learning history with a teacher, guardian, or fellow pupil.