Site Review: Khan Academy

The internet is a wonderful place!  There is so much information just waiting to be learned and shared with others.  The only problem is that it can be hard to find reliable, useful information.  This is where Khan Academy comes into play.  Struggling with Calculus?  Wanting to learn a little bit more about Economics?  Look no further!

Intro

The premise of this site is to allow users to listen to the instructors, do exercises when applicable, and learn.  It is pretty much strait forward.  Yet, I can’t stop going back!  I first heard of it in my campuses Computer Club meeting when a professor suggested it for some of the freshmen who were struggling in their intro Computer Science (CS) classes.  So I stopped by to see what they had in terms of CS.  While it was pretty small in that department, I realized that there were massive amounts of videos focused on math at all levels.  I went to the Calculus section and watched at the point where my class was teaching.  To my surprise I was able to solidify my knowledge in sequences and series through the use of this tool.

When you first access the site

The site is nice a clean, and quite easy to navigate.  You can log into the site using an existing Google or Facebook account, or make a site specific account.  While the site does not require you to log in to access the videos, I will show you why you might be interested in joining.   If you are setting up the article for your child, or if you are working on some basic algebra or other math skills the first reason is to keep track of your progress in the practice portion!  Choosing the Practice tab at the top right of the page will bring you to a tree of exercises that you can do.  Starting with easy addition and subtraction and going all the way to Calculus I topics such as derivatives and the chain rule.  Of course you don’t have to start with the basic arithmetic if you are well beyond that, but it is still fun!

Once you click on the Practice tab, lots of topics!

Track Progress

If you are anything like me, I love to see where I have been and where I am going.  It is nice to see progress is in fact being made.  And maybe it is just the fact that I am a statistics nerd, but numbers about progress fascinate me.  I think this is a contributing factor to why I keep coming back.  If you noticed in the last screenshot the number in blue and the other numbers next to my name, those are the stats I was talking about.  The number in the blue are a users “energy points”.  What are they used for?  While there is nothing built into the website for energy point use, I like to use it to give myself breaks, or rewards.  For example, I would watch a video and study until I got 5,000 more points.  It is a great way to measure progress rather than time.   The other numbers refer to the number of times I have received a level of a badge.  There are Meteorite, Moon, Earth, Sun, and Black Hole badges.  The difficult of obtaining these badges go from very easy (Meteorite) to very hard (Black Hole).  I will let you all discover what types of challenges these offer if you decide to give this site a try!  Clicking on your name does give you some general stats though as well, with a nice graph and other stats scattered around the page.

Here are some of my stats!

Conclusion

If you are looking for a way to productively learn about a new topic, or review a topic, Khan Academy might be the place for you!  It has a really nice and neat layout, with a fun meta game to keep you going.  The videos are well produced, and I believe it helped me get a good grade in Calculus II even though I struggled during class.  The strongest point that I cannot stress enough is that this site is clean and easy to navigate!  This site is easily one of the best learning centers on the web.  Hopefully see you there in the future!

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