| Jun 1, 2023

Khan Academy: The Platform Transforming Lives Through Online Education

With 617 million children missing basic math and reading skills across the globe, the not-for-profit has redefined the educational landscape worldwide.

Salman Amin “Sal” Khan was tutoring one of his relatives in mathematics back in 2004 when he used Yahoo Messenger’s Doodle feature to make visual notes while talking to her on the phone. When he started posting YouTube videos of the doodles, word spread about his teaching methods and more relatives and friends sought his assistance. The video-sharing platform supercharged his reach and four years later, Khan Academy was born.

The Mountain View, California-based nonprofit has since not only expanded its range of subjects, but also gained recognition for its highly effective teaching techniques. In the process, the platform has helped to redefine the educational landscape and support learners worldwide.

Students and teachers using Khan Academy have observed notable improvements in performance and enthusiasm, especially in traditionally challenging subject areas like math. Learners who once struggled with the material are now more confident and engaged, while other students are pushing their limits and achieving previously unimaginable success levels. In one memorable case, Khan Academy helped a student who was reading at third-grade level achieve a concordance score on the SAT for graduation. 

Khan Academy and Its Mission

Khan formed the academy as a not-for-profit educational organization with a mission to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. As such, it relies on the support of donors, grants, and partnerships to maintain its free offerings. Through its wide range of educational materials and commitment to accessibility, the organization aims to remove barriers to education and foster a passion for learning in individuals, regardless of their background or financial circumstances.

Today, the platform offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empowers learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. The subjects covered include math, science, computing, history, art history, economics, and test preparation.

One of the factors that makes Khan Academy stand out from other educational resources is its effectiveness in engaging students and enhancing their learning experience. Teachers have reported a significant change in excitement and enthusiasm towards subjects like math among both struggling and advanced students.

Inception and Growth

Khan graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with degrees in mathematics, electrical engineering, and computer science. He then pursued an MBA from Harvard Business School. Before establishing the academy, Khan worked as a hedge-fund analyst. By blending his cross-discipline knowledge and investing in innovation, Khan has been able to create a transformative platform for millions of learners around the world.

The Khan Academy YouTube Channel played a significant role in the organization’s growth. With its user-friendly interface and well-structured lessons, millions of people now use the platform, which has been praised for the motivational features that inspire students as they progress through learning materials. Students are encouraged by the easy-to-understand explanations and gamification aspects, such as earning badges and points.

In 2010, Khan Academy received a significant boost when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invested in the project, propelling its growth even further. Other major supporters include Google and famed education philanthropist Ann Doerr. Through their support and donations, Khan Academy now provides education to over 100 million people worldwide.


The Curriculum

Khan Academy offers a comprehensive and diverse curriculum, with core subjects including:

  • Math: From basic arithmetic to advanced calculus.
  • Art: Learners can explore the worlds of art history and appreciation.
  • History: World history, U.S. history, and more specialized historical topics.
  • Computer Science: Programming, algorithms, and computer systems are some of the areas covered.
  • Economics: From microeconomics to macroeconomics, students can learn the principles and applications of economic thinking.

Supporting Classroom Teachers

Teachers also benefit from Khan Academy’s content and curriculum by using it as a tool for identifying student gaps and informing instructional decision-making. In the classroom, Khan Academy provides a wide range of resources for schools that help educators integrate the platform into their curriculum. Some of these features include:

  • Video lessons: Each question on the platform has a corresponding video that explains the skills needed to answer it. This helps students learn at their own pace.
  • Hints and walkthroughs: Students can access hints and step-by-step walkthroughs for questions, which help them overcome challenges and eventually master the content.
  • Data-driven insights: Teachers can track student progress and identify areas for improvement, enabling them to provide targeted support and intervention when necessary.

By incorporating the platform into their lesson plans, teachers can spend less time lecturing and more time focusing on project-based learning and peer tutoring. Teachers in Florida have reported all their students graduating after using the platform and educators have used Khan Academy to facilitate a more engaging and social learning environment. 

Helping Learners Worldwide

As it has evolved, Khan Academy has adapted its content to better serve the diverse needs of learners worldwide. This has included expanding its subject offerings to cater to a broader range of academic disciplines and ensuring that students can find resources tailored to their specific interests and abilities. Additionally, the platform has implemented AI-powered technology to personalize learning experiences, making it easier for students and teachers to find the most relevant content as they navigate through the site.

In India, Khan Academy has taken several measures to make its content accessible to students and teachers across the country. Collaborating with local educators, it has worked to translate and localize the platform in Hindi. Furthermore, Khan Academy has conducted numerous pilot programs and partnered with local schools to better understand the needs of Indian students and teachers.

It’s yet another example of how Khan Academy has had a profound impact on the educational landscape worldwide, as evidenced by the wide array of stories and testimonials shared by both students and educators. As the academy says, every child deserves the chance to learn and with 617 million children missing basic math and reading skills worldwide, the not-for-profit will continue to change lives.

Rachel Paxton
Rachel Paxton

Opinion Contributor, Strixus

Rachel has been a blogger, freelance writer, and successful online business owner for more than 25 years. She has a BA in Humanities and business from Washington State University. view profile


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