Back in March, GCP told you about Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.com) and its math and science tutorials online. (“GCP Sidebar: Homework Helpers”, March 3, 2011) This semester, 36 schools nationwide are incorporating Khan Academy tutorials and software in their classroom instruction. Teachers across the country are combining their in-class lessons with computer based lectures and exercises devised by Salman Khan’s Khan Academy.
What differentiates Khan Academy’s classroom materials from the many other software offerings from companies trying to get a piece of the educational market is that Khan Academy’s materials, like their online tutorials, are free. As Khan, a math whiz who was raised by a single mother and attended public schools in Louisiana, explains in an article in today’s New York Times, found here, “The core of our mission is to give material to people who need it…[W]hy shouldn’t it be free?” Khan Academy is supported by grants from Bill Gates and other Silicon Valley giants, but their future fund-raising plans include establishing an endowment and developing educational summer camp programs.
The Khan Academy classroom materials, like the online tutorials, focus on math and science. Teachers are finding them helpful for their students who need to master fundamentals before moving on to higher level concepts. The materials allow students to measure their progress through exercises and quizzes, and the students are not able to move on to the next concept until they have mastered the one before them. Teachers can monitor students working with these materials from a central laptop, and can determine when the class is fully ready to move on to the next lesson.
“Math is a language for thinking”, says Salman Khan. Bravo to Khan and Khan Academy for creating ways to help students master this language, and for making their materials free and accessible to all.
Encourage your sons (and your daughters) to check out the tutorials on Khan Academy.