Khan Academy

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Khan Academy
Khan Academy Logo.svg
Motto A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.[1]
Founded September 2006; 9 years ago (2006-09)
Founder Salman Khan
Type Non-profit organisation
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)
15.795 million USD (2012)
Expenses 7.289 million USD (2012)

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 short 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 in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States to immigrant parents from Bangladesh, and India.[7] After earning three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (a BS in mathematics, a BS in electrical engineering and computer science, and an MEng in electrical engineering and computer science), he pursued an MBA from Harvard Business School.[8]

In late 2004, Khan began tutoring his cousin Nadia who needed help with math using Yahoo!'s Doodle notepad. When other relatives and friends sought similar help, he decided that it would be more practical to distribute the tutorials on YouTube.[8] The videos' popularity 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,[8] now with significant backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Broad Foundation, Google, the O’Sullivan Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and other philanthropic organizations.[10] In 2010, Google announced it would give 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.[11] In 2012, Google's first employee, Craig Silverstein, left there and joined Khan Academy.[12] In 2013, the Mexico-based Carlos Slim Foundation made a donation to Khan Academy to expand its Spanish library of videos.[13] In 2015, to enable anytime, anywhere learning for people across the world, AT&T contributed $2.25 million to Khan Academy to fund development of a new mobile learning platform and app.[14]

In the beginning, Khan Academy offered videos mostly about mathematics. Thanks to donations (the first of significance was from philanthropist Ann Doer),[7] 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, computer programming and computer science.[15][16][17] There are more than 5,000 courses in all, as of 2015.[18] In addition to faculty, the organization has a network of content specialists.[19]

Khan Academy also has thousands of resources translated into other languages. It launched the Spanish version of the website in September 2013 [20] followed by the Brazilian Portuguese,[21] French [22] and Turkish [23] versions. 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's website has been translated to 23 languages and its videos to 65.[2][3]

Technical format[edit]

What's inside of blood, a Khan academy video

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 before the free natural drawing application SmoothDraw, but now Sal Khan uses ArtRage and recorded with screen capture software from Camtasia Studio.[24]

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,[25] and a variety of tools for teachers in public schools.[26] 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,[27] which can be found free of charge in Google Play, App Store and Windows Store.

The videos show step-by-step doodles and diagrams on an electronic blackboard.[28][29] Not-for-profit groups have distributed offline versions of the videos to rural areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.[30][31][32]

Khan Academy also provides an adaptive web-based exercise system that generates problems for students based on skill and performance.[33][34] Khan believes his academy presents 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 classroom lectures can not.[35]


Khan Academy has been criticized because Salman Khan (educator) does not have a background in pedagogy.[36][37] Statements made in some videos have also been questioned.[38] In response to these criticisms, the organization has fixed errors in its videos, expanded its faculty and built a network of content specialists.[38] Others have presented data showing Khan videos are less effective than those of other publishers and that the concept of chalk on a blackboard is less engaging for students than other styles of video, such as cartoons.[39]

In 2010, Khan Academy introduced badges as part of a program to promote gamification of learning.[40][41] There are currently 6 types.[42]

Services and vision[edit]

The major components of Khan Academy include:[43][44][45]

  • a personalized learning engine to help people track what they have learned and recommend what they can do next
  • a video library with over 6,500 videos in various topic areas.[43][46][47] These videos are licensed under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) 3.0 license.[15][48]
  • automated exercises with continuous assessment. The exercise software is available as open source under the MIT license.[33]


According to Khan Academy's filings with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Salman Khan has received over $350,000 in annual compensation from Khan Academy since 2011. In 2013, President and COO Shantanu Sinha also received over $350,000 in compensation.[49] Khan's perks as Khan Academy's leader include first-class travel on business flights. In total, 29 employees of Khan Academy make more than $100,000 per year.


Khan Academy has gained recognition both nationally and internationally:

  • Bill Gates spoke about Khan Academy at the Aspen Ideas festival.[50]
  • 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.[51]
  • In November 2011, the Khan Academy received a $5 million grant from the Ireland-based O'Sullivan Foundation.[52]
  • In April 2012, the founder and executive director of Khan Academy, Salman Khan, was listed among the Time 100 Most Influential People for 2012[53]
  • In 2013, the Mexico-based Carlos Slim Foundation made a donation to Khan Academy to expand its Spanish library of videos.[13]
  • Khan was one of five winners of the 2014 Heinz Award. His award was in the area of "Human Condition." [54]
  • In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education launched a $3 million randomized-control trial to gauge the effectiveness of Khan Academy.[55] The trial will focus on mathematics and will take place during the 2015–2016 school year.[56]


  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. ^ "Nonprofit Explorer - ProPublica". ProPublica. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  5. ^ "One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  6. ^ Sampson, Demetrios G.; Ifenthaler, Dirk; Spector, J. Michael; Isaias, Pedro (2014-07-17). Digital Systems for Open Access to Formal and Informal Learning. Springer. ISBN 9783319022642. 
  7. ^ a b Adams, Richard. "Sal Khan: the man who tutored his cousin – and started a revolution". the Guardian. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  8. ^ a b c "Khan Academy: The man who wants to teach the world". Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  9. ^ a b Temple, James (2009-12-14). "Salman Khan, math master of the Internet". SF gate. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  10. ^ "The Funders Pouring Money Into the Khan Academy - Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence - Inside Philanthropy". Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  11. ^ "$10 million for Project 10^100 winners". The Official Google Blog. 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  12. ^ Swisher, Kara. "Google's Very First Employee, Craig Silverstein Departs". AllThings D. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Mexico’s Carlos Slim funds Khan academy in Spanish". Marketplace. 
  14. ^ "AT&T Awards $2.25 Million for Mobile Learning Platform". Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  15. ^ a b "Khan Academy's video library". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  16. ^ "About the team". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-09-14. 
  17. ^ "The Wikipedia of Education: 'Khan Academy' Launches Computer Science Education". Career mitra. 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  18. ^ a b Dreifus, Claudia (2014-01-27). "Salman Khan Turned Family Tutoring Into Khan Academy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  19. ^ "Our content specialists". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  20. ^ "Khan Academy" (in Spanish). 
  21. ^ "Khan Academy" (in Portuguese). 
  22. ^ "Khan Academy" (in French). 
  23. ^ "Khan Academy" (in Turkish). 
  24. ^ Khan Academy: The future of education?. 60 Minutes. CBS News. March 11, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Khan Academy". PCMAG. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  26. ^ "How Are Teachers and Students Using Khan Academy?". MindShift. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  27. ^ "Khan Academy for ipad review". theappzine. 
  28. ^ Kaplan, David A. (2010-08-24). "Innovation in Education: Bill Gates' favorite teacher". CNN Money. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  29. ^ "Need a tutor? YouTube videos await". USA Today. AP. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  30. ^ "A free world-class education for anyone anywhere". About (FAQ). Khan academy. 
  31. ^ "Laureate: Salman Khan". Education Award. The Tech Awards. 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-11. 
  32. ^ "Salman Khan". CNBC. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  33. ^ a b "Khan academy: Exercises read me". GitHub. 
  34. ^ "Khan Academy Unveils New Math Resources for Common Core -- THE Journal". Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  35. ^ Rasicot, Julie (2011-08-04). "Education Review: Web site offering free math lessons catches on 'like wildfire'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  36. ^ Christopher Danielson and Michael Paul Goldenberg (2012-07-27). "How well does Khan Academy teach?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  37. ^ Strauss, Valerie (2012-07-27). "Does the Khan Academy know how to teach?". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  38. ^ a b Strauss, Valerie (2013-10-22). "Khan Academy using contractors to check Web site’s videos". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-15. 
  39. ^ Schaffhauser, Dian (23 September 2015). "OpenEd Assesses 'Most Effective' Online Learning Resources". THE Journal. Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  40. ^ Ben Kamens (2010-12-22). "Khan Academy Now Has Badges". Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  41. ^ "Gamification in Marketing: Lessons from the Khan Academy Website". Search Engine Watch. Retrieved 2015-11-07. 
  42. ^ "Badges". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  43. ^ a b "Khan Academy Fact pack" (PDF) (PDF). Khan Academy. June 1, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  44. ^ "Khan Academy Vision and Social Return". YouTube. Google. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  45. ^ "Khan Academy Unveils New Math Resources for Common Core -- THE Journal". Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  46. ^ Reimagining Education with Sal Khan. Askwith Forums. Harvard Education. May 8, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Khan Academy". YouTube. Google. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  48. ^ "Khan Academy FAQ". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2014-12-17. 
  49. ^ "Nonprofit Explorer - KHAN ACADEMY INC - ProPublica'". ProPublica. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 
  50. ^ Thompson, Clive (15 July 2011). "How Khan Academy Is Changing the Rules of Education". Wired. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  51. ^ "Project 10100 Winners". Project 10100. Google. 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  52. ^ "The O’Sullivan Foundation Grants $5M To Online Learning Platform Khan Academy". Tech crunch. November 4, 2011. 
  53. ^ Special, Time .
  54. ^ "The Heinz Awards: Salman Khan". The Heinz Awards. 
  55. ^ "Khan Academy To Be Subject of Ed. Department Evaluation". Education Week. July 14, 2014. 
  56. ^ Kao,Yvonne – Schneider, Steve. "Khan Academy Resources for Maximizing Mathematics Achievement: A Postsecondary Mathematics Efficacy Study". Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 

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