Last updated on 25 July 2017
Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization created in 2006 by educator Salman Khan with a goal of creating a set of online tools that help educate students. The organization produces short lectures in the form of YouTube videos. Its website also includes supplementary practice exercises and materials for educators. All resources are available to users of the website. The website and its content are provided mainly in English, but are also available in other languages like Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish, French, Bangla and Hindi.
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The organization started in 2004 when Sal Khan tutored one of his cousins on the Internet using a service called Yahoo Doodle Images. After a while, Khan's other cousins began to use his tutoring service. Because of the demand, Khan decided to make his videos watchable on the Internet, so he published his content on YouTube. Later, he used a drawing application called SmoothDraw, and now uses a Wacom tablet to draw using ArtRage. Tutorials are recorded on the computer.
The positive responses of students prompted Khan to quit his job in 2009, and focus on the tutorials (then released under the name Khan Academy) full-time. Khan Lab School, a school founded by Sal Khan and associated with Khan Academy, opened on September 15, 2014 in Mountain View, California.
Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, mostly funded by donations coming from philanthropic organizations. In 2010, Google donated $2 million for creating new courses and translating content into other languages, as part of their Project 10100 program. In 2013, Carlos Slim from the Carlos Slim Foundation in Mexico, made a donation for creating Spanish versions of videos. In 2015, AT&T contributed $2.25 million to Khan Academy for mobile versions of the content accessible through apps.
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 2015 it was raised to $556,000. In 2013, President and COO Shantanu Sinha also received over $375,000 in compensation.
Khan Academy's website aims to provide a personalized learning experience, mainly built on the videos which are hosted on YouTube. The website is meant to be used as a supplement to its videos, because it includes other features such as progress tracking, practice exercises, and teaching tools. The material can also be accessed through mobile applications.
The videos show a recording of drawings on an electronic blackboard, which are similar to the style of a teacher giving a lecture. The narrator describes each drawing and how they relate to the material being taught. Nonprofit groups have distributed offline versions of the videos to rural areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Videos range from all subjects covered in school and for all grades, Kindergarten to High School.
Khan Academy videos have been translated into many of the world's most popular languages, with many videos dubbed into the world's top spoken languages. There are close to 20,000 subtitle translations available. Khan Academy offers its platform in 5 languages: English (en), Spanish (es), Portuguese (pt), French (fr) and Bangla (bn).
It also provides online courses for preparing for standardized tests, including the SAT and MCAT.
Khan Academy has been criticized because Salman Khan does not have a background in pedagogy. Statements made in some videos have 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. 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.
In an interview from January 2016, Khan defended the value of Khan Academy online lectures while acknowledging their limitations: "I think they're valuable, but I'd never say they somehow constitute a complete education." Khan Academy positions itself as a supplement to in-class learning, a modern education tool which aims to humanize the classroom using technology.
Khan Academy has gained recognition both nationally and internationally:
- Bill Gates spoke about Khan Academy at the Aspen Ideas festival.
- 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.
- In November 2011, the Khan Academy received a $5 million grant from the Ireland-based O'Sullivan Foundation.
- In April 2012, the founder and executive director of Khan Academy, Salman Khan, was listed among the Time 100 Most Influential People for 2012.
- In 2013, the Mexico-based Carlos Slim Foundation made a donation to Khan Academy to expand its Spanish library of videos.
- Khan was one of five winners of the 2014 Heinz Award. His award was in the area of "Human Condition."
- In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education launched a $2.2 million randomized-control trial to gauge the effectiveness of Khan Academy. The trial will focus on mathematics and took place during the 2015–2016 school year.
- In August 2015, Khan Academy partnered with Disney & Pixar Animation Studios to launch Pixar in a Box on Khan Academy. The goal is to show how academic concepts students learn in school are used to solve creative challenges in the making of Pixar films.
Khan Academy has delivered over 1 billion lessons worldwide. The platform is used by 40 million students and 2 million teachers every month. Today, Khan Academy's educational content is being translated to 36 languages by individual volunteers and internationalization partners. Khan Academy aims to create global awareness for taking control of our ability to learn and becoming better learners through a growth mindset, supported with the slogan: "You only have to know one thing: you can learn anything".
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