In 2006, Salman Khan founded the Khan Academy, a not-for-profit educational organization with a mission to offer a free, world-class education to anyone with access to the web. With course subjects ranging from the sciences to the arts, Khan Academy classes are comprised of hundreds of short videos (usually around seven minutes) and step-by-step equations. They strive to provide learners with an online community in which they can learn at a personal pace while engaging in useful, everyday material.
The best part about Khan Academy is that it is free and available to anyone, anywhere. There are no contracts, no hidden fees and no pricing for individual courses. Furthermore, students are able to dial-in on subjects where they need the most help or the most review and can use as much time as necessary before moving on. The content provided is easy to comprehend, fun to learn and it is clear that the creators of Khan Academy had young, high-energy students in mind when creating the site. All information is delivered in a straightforward manner, even when teaching complex topics, and this helps students gain a feeling of ownership and control over their learning. With the inclusion of a coach-lead option, teachers and parents can monitor the progress of their children while also engaging in a social, more hands-on approach to learning.
Naturally, with any company that offers its services for free, you are bound to run into some limitations. Khan is largely funded by wealthy donors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but it is unclear how sustainable the model will be. The company also relies heavily upon volunteers who willing and able to translate their classes into other languages, or provide other forms of online support. Accessing useful customer support with Khan Academy is not easy. If there is a problem, question or concern, students and coaches are directed to a help page full of other users issues.
While none of these issues necessarily affect the quality of the education they are providing for free, customers should be aware that Khan Academy is a publicly-funded non-profit, and therefore lack some of the techy bells and whistles touted by other companies.
The Bottom Line
As far as online learning goes, Khan Academy may be one of the best. Students are able to learn complex subjects through an understandable, relatable and efficient approach, all for no price. With online discussion forums, students, teachers and parents can connect with peers to evaluate, ask questions and provide advice for road bumps that are inevitable in the world of education. Though the company itself may not be easily reached, Khan Academy offers the help of fellow learners and educators to solve problems. What's best about this program is that all students can learn at their own pace, choose the subjects they desire and are never tested on a pass-fail basis. Khan Academy is the epitome of what online learning looks like.