Khan Academy

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Khan Academy
Khan Academy Logo.svg
Khan Academy's logo
Motto A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.[1]
Founded September 2006 (2006-09)
Founder Salman Khan
Type Non-profit
Services E-learning, Education
Official languages English, website translated to 23 languages and videos to 65[2][3]
Owner Salman Khan, founder and Executive Director
Revenue 1.826 million USD (2010)
Endowment 1.623 million USD (2010)

Khan Academy is a non-profit[4] educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan to provide "a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere".[5] The organization produces micro lectures in the form of YouTube videos.[6] In addition to micro lectures, the organization's website features practice exercises and tools for educators. All resources are available for free to anyone around the world.


The founder of the organization, Salman Khan, was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States to a father from Barisal, Bangladesh, and mother from Calcutta, India.[7] After earning three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (a BS in mathematics, a M.Sc. in electrical engineering and computer science, and an MEng in electrical engineering and computer science) he pursued an MBA from Harvard Business School.

In late 2004, Khan began tutoring his cousin Nadia in mathematics using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad. When other relatives and friends sought similar help, he decided it would be more practical to distribute the tutorials on YouTube.[8][9] Their popularity there and the testimonials of appreciative students prompted Khan to quit his job in finance as a hedge fund analyst at Connective Capital Management in 2009, and focus on the tutorials (then released under the moniker "Khan Academy") full-time.[9] The project is funded by donations. Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization,[4] now with significant backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ann and John Doerr, the Brazil-based Lemann Foundation, and Google. In 2010, Google announced it would give the Khan Academy $2 million for creating more courses and for translating the core library into the world’s most widely spoken languages, as part of their Project 10100.[10] In 2013, the Mexico-based Carlos Slim Foundation made a donation to Khan Academy to expand its Spanish library of videos.[11]

In the beginning, Khan Academy offered videos mostly about mathematics. Thanks to donations, Khan Academy has been able to expand its faculty and offer courses about history, healthcare, medicine, finance, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, cosmology, American civics, art history, economics, music, and computer science. Computer Science is taught mainly by Pamela Fox and Jessica Liu. [6][12][13] In addition to faculty, the organization has a network of content specialists.[14]

Khan Academy also has thousands of resources translated into other languages. It launched the Spanish version of the website in September 2013.[15] It is supported by partners and volunteers in languages including Indonesian, German, Spanish, Czech, French, Italian, Swahili, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Xhosa, Greek, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Bengali, Hindi, Malayalam, and Chinese. Khan Academy also has a Brazilian Portuguese versions of its website.[16] As of June 2014, Khan Academy's website has been translated to 23 languages and its videos to 65.[2][3]

Technical format[edit]

External video
James Abram Garfield, photo portrait seated.jpg
Garfield's proof of the Pythagorean Theorem, Khan Academy[17]

The Khan Academy started with Khan remotely tutoring one of his cousins interactively using Yahoo Doodle images. Based on feedback from his cousin, additional cousins began to take advantage of the interactive, remote tutoring. In order to make better use of his and their time, Khan transitioned to making YouTube video tutorials.[18] Drawings are now made with a Wacom tablet and the free natural drawing application SmoothDraw, and recorded with screen capture software from Camtasia Studio.[19]

All videos (hosted via YouTube) are available through Khan Academy's own website, which also contains many other features such as progress tracking, practice exercises, and a variety of tools for teachers in public schools. Logging into the site can be done via a Google or a Facebook account for those who do not want to create a separate Khan Academy account. The material can also be accessed through Khan Academy's own mobile applications, which can be found free of charge in App Store and Windows Store.

Khan chose to avoid the standard format of a person standing by a whiteboard, deciding instead to present the learning concepts as if "popping out of a darkened universe and into one's mind with a voice out of nowhere" in a way akin to sitting next to someone and working out a problem on a sheet of paper: "If you're watching a guy do a problem [while] thinking out loud, I think people find that more valuable and not as daunting".[20] Not-for-profit groups have distributed offline versions of the videos to rural areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.[8][21] While the current content is mainly concerned with pre-college mathematics and physics, Khan's long-term goal is to provide "tens of thousands of videos in pretty much every subject" and to create "the world's first free, world-class virtual school where anyone can learn anything".[8]

Khan Academy also provides a web-based exercise system that generates problems for students based on skill level and performance. The exercise software is available as open source under the MIT license.[22] Khan believes his academy points an opportunity to overhaul the traditional classroom by using software to create tests, grade assignments, highlight the challenges of certain students, and encourage those doing well to help struggling classmates.[9] The tutorials are touted as helpful because, among other factors, they can be paused by students, while a classroom lecture cannot be.[23]

The success of his low-tech, conversational tutorials—Khan's face never appears, and viewers see only his unadorned step-by-step doodles and diagrams on an electronic blackboard—suggests an educational transformation that de-emphasizes lecture-based classroom interactions.[24]


In 2010, Khan Academy introduced badges as part of a program to promote gamification of learning. There are currently 6 types:

  • Meteorite badges — These badges are easy to earn and come with small energy point awards.
  • Moon badges — These badges are harder to earn than the meteorites and have larger energy point awards.
  • Earth badges — These badges are harder than moon badges but some are still easy to earn.
  • Sun badges — These badges are harder than the Earths and unlike the previous categories, earning them is a challenge and requires dedication.
  • Black Hole badges — These badges are unknown and extremely hard to earn and there are only 3 available to earn.
  • Challenge badges (Patches) — These are earned when one finishes all exercises of a certain topic.

Services and vision[edit]

External video
Winslow Homer, American - The Life Line - Google Art Project.jpg
Homer's The Life Line, Smarthistory[25]

The major components of Khan Academy include:[26][16]

  • a personalized learning engine to help people track what they have learned and recommend what they can do next
  • a video library with over 6500 videos in various topic areas.[16][27][28] These videos are licensed under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) 3.0 license.[6][29]
  • automated exercises with continuous assessment. The exercise software is available as open source under the MIT license.[22]

A November 2011 grant of $5 million from Ireland-based The O'Sullivan Foundation,[30] founded by Avego MD and cloud computing pioneer Sean O'Sullivan, will be directed to expand the teaching faculty, extend content through crowd-sourced contributions following a Wikipedia-style model, and developing curricula to help users blend the content with physical teaching (see Blended learning).

Recent teaching appointees as a result of the grant include Dr. Steven Zucker, formerly of Pratt Institute, and Dr. Beth Harris, formerly of the Museum of Modern Art, from the Smarthistory project, to produce art and history content. YouTube video creators Vi Hart and Brit Cruise have also joined the teaching faculty.[31]

Educational impact[edit]

Many companies (Google, Bank of America, Oracle) and foundations (Carlos Slim, Bill Gates, Jeffrey Skoll) commend Khan Academy's model of online education on its technological ingenuity and its ability to introduce different educational dynamics. Since Benjamin Bloom's 1984 study on the effectiveness of "one-on-one tutoring," close student-teacher interaction has been aggressively sought after.[32]


Khan Academy has been criticized because Salman Khan does not have a background in pedagogy.[33] Statements made in some videos have also been questioned. In response to these criticisms, the organization has fixed errors in its videos, expanded its faculty and built a network of content specialists.[34]


External video
Salman Khan TED 2011.jpgSalman Khan at TED 2011
Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education, TED[35]

Khan Academy has gained recognition both nationally and internationally:

  • In 2010, Google's Project 10100 provided $2 million to support the creation of more courses, to allow for translation of the Khan Academy's content, and to allow for the hiring of additional staff.[36]
  • In November 2011, the Khan Academy received a $5 million grant from the Ireland-based O'Sullivan Foundation.[30]
  • In April 2012, the founder and executive director of Khan Academy, Salman Khan, was listed among the Time 100 Most Influential People for 2012[37]
  • In 2013, the Mexico-based Carlos Slim Foundation made a donation to Khan Academy to expand its Spanish library of videos.[11]
  • Salman Khan was one of five individuals who recently won the prestigious 2014 Heinz Award. His award was in the area of "Human Condition." Mr. Khan was recognized for revolutionizing the way students can learn math, science and other subject areas.[38]
  • In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education launched a $3 million randomized-control trial to gauge the effectiveness of Khan Academy.[39] The trial will focus on mathematics and will take place during the 2015–2016 school year.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Translations". Khan Academy. 
  3. ^ a b "Is Khan Academy available in other languages?". Khan Academy. 
  4. ^ a b Contribute, Khan Academy .
  5. ^ "About Khan Academy". 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2014-04-14. 
  6. ^ a b c "Khan Academy's video library". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  7. ^ "What is Sal's background?". Khan Academy. 2010. Retrieved 2013-06-17. 
  8. ^ a b c "A free world-class education for anyone anywhere". About (FAQ). Khan academy. 
  9. ^ a b c Temple, James (2009-12-14). "Salman Khan, math master of the Internet". SF gate. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  10. ^ "$10 million for Project 10^100 winners". The Official Google Blog. 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  11. ^ a b "Mexico’s Carlos Slim funds Khan academy in Spanish", Market place .
  12. ^ "About the team". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-09-14. 
  13. ^ "The Wikipedia of Education: 'Khan Academy' Launches Computer Science Education". Career mitra. 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  14. ^ "Our content specialists". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  15. ^ Khan academy (in Castilian) 
  16. ^ a b c "Khan Academy Fact pack" (PDF). Khan Academy. June 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  17. ^ "Garfield's proof of the Pythagorean Theorem". Geometry. Khan Academy. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ Khan, Salman. "How Did You Get Started?". FAQ. Khan Academy. 
  19. ^ Khan, "Khan Academy: The future of education?", News (Google You tube) (CBS), 62 seconds  |chapter= ignored (help).
  20. ^ "Need a tutor? YouTube videos await". USA Today. AP. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  21. ^ "Laureate: Salman Khan". Education Award. The Tech Awards. 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  22. ^ a b "Khan academy". GitHub.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  23. ^ Rasicot, Julie (2011-08-04). "Education Review: Web site offering free math lessons catches on 'like wildfire'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  24. ^ Kaplan, David A. (2010-08-24). "Innovation in Education: Bill Gates' favorite teacher". CNN Money. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  25. ^ "Homer's The Life Line". Smarthistory. Khan Academy. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Khan Academy Vision and Social Return". YouTube. Google. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  27. ^ Khan Academy (You tube) (video) (Google) |url= missing title (help)  |chapter= ignored (help).
  28. ^ "Khan Academy". YouTube. Google. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  29. ^ "Khan Academy FAQ". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-12-17. 
  30. ^ a b "The O’Sullivan Foundation Grants $5M To Online Learning Platform Khan Academy". Tech crunch. November 4, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Frequency Stability", YouTube, Google .
  32. ^ Thompson, Clive (15 July 2011). "How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education". Wired. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  33. ^ Christopher Danielson and Michael Paul Goldenberg (2012-07-27). "How well does Khan Academy teach?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-15. }
  34. ^ Strauss, Valerie (2013-10-22). "Khan Academy using contractors to check Web site’s videos". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  35. ^ Khan, Salman (March 2, 2011), "Let's use video to reinvent education", TED, retrieved February 28, 2013 .
  36. ^ "Project 10100 Winners". Project 10100. Google. 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  37. ^ Special, Time .
  38. ^ "The Heinz Awards: Salman Khan". The Heinz Awards. 
  39. ^ "Khan Academy To Be Subject of Ed. Department Evaluation". Education Week. July 14, 2014. 
  40. ^ Kao,Yvonne – Schneider, Steve. "Khan Academy Resources for Maximizing Mathematics Achievement: A Postsecondary Mathematics Efficacy Study". Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 

External links[edit]