Here's How to Learn Anything For Free

Category: Education

Back in 2004, Salman Khan just wanted to help his 13 year-old cousin learn math. Today, he and a team of over 150 others have their sights set on helping anyone learn anything, for free. The Khan Academy has video tutorials covering math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and many other subjects. You can even find test prep for college entrance exams such as the SAT, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT. Read on to learn more about this excellent online learning resource...

Free Online Learning at Khan Academy

Khan, a hedge fund analyst at the time, agreed to remotely tutor his cousin using the phone and Yahoo's Doodle online whiteboard app. He made video copies of the sessions for her to review later; soon she said she'd rather just have the videos and skip the live lectures. Other friends and relatives soon asked for similar tutoring, and Khan built a collection of videos on YouTube.

Soon, strangers were writing to Khan with thanks for his help and requests for tutorials on other subjects. Khan realized that he enjoyed helping people learn more than he enjoyed making money for investors. So in 2009 he quit his hedge fund job to develop video tutorials full time. He also created the website, which now hosts thousands of video tutorials.

There aren't typical pedagogical videos. Most are short - 7 to 15 minutes long. Khan and other subject experts do not appear in any of the Khan Academy videos; only a voice explains what is being written on the virtual blackboard. The videos cover topics from Mathematics, History, Healthcare & Medicine, Finance, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, Economics, Cosmology and Computer Science. You can find videos appropriate for preschool through college level learning.

Free Online Learning

If you want to learn about a specific topic such as Algebra or Calculus, there are "playlists" to help you cover all the important elements. You can find tutorials ranging from "Simple Equations" to "Polynomial Approximation of Functions" to "Partial Derivatives of Vector-Valued Functions". If you don't find what you want to learn at Khan, there are dozens of highly respected universities that offer free online college courses. See these related articles:

A Different Learning Model

Khan Academy offers automated exercises to help students test their mastery and track their progress. Khan Academy "flips" the traditional educational paradigm on its head, says Salman Khan. Instead of receiving a lecture in school and working alone on exercises at home, students review the video tutorials at home and use classroom time to actually interact with teachers. Teachers or coaches who use the Khan materials are free to work one on one with students instead of "teaching to the middle" with one lecture for all.

Bill Gates was so impressed with Khan's videos that he donated $1.5 million to Khan Academy. Google kicked in $2 million to develop new videos and translate existing works into other languages. A grant of $5 million from The O'Sullivan Foundation of Ireland was made to support hiring of additional teachers; creation of a Wikipedia-style content creation system; and development of ways to blend the Khan materials into traditional classrooms. Over the years, other supporters such as Bank of America, Comcast, AT&T, the Walt Disney Company, and private individuals have donated tens of millions of dollars to support the Academy.

Khan Academy is not without its critics in traditional pedagogy. Khan had no formal training as an educator, and his method is nothing more than old-fashioned rote memorization, some say. Others claim that some of the recorded lectures are inaccurate or superficial. But in response, the academy has made efforts to correct errors, and has expanded its faculty to over 200 content experts. They've also partnered with NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.

With thousands of videos covering hundreds of topics, those who dismiss the Khan Academy as having little value come off looking a bit shrill. Various studies have been done which prove the positive impact of Khan Academy lessons on student performance. One study by the College Board, the maker of the SAT, indicated that studying 6-8 hours with Khan's SAT practice module resulted in an average gain of 30 points on the SAT exam.

The best thing about Khan Academy is that it's free and requires no commitment. You can try some of the lessons and learn at your own pace. Have you tried the Khan Academy or other online learning sites? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Here's How to Learn Anything For Free"

Posted by:

30 Jan 2020

Hey there name sake, thanks for this article as I had never heard of the Academy before. What a gift to all who wish to study at home in their own time like me. Can not thank you enough so do keep up the good work even though so many do not comment on your articles.......

Posted by:

30 Jan 2020

I created accounts for my boys years ago, and have used it myself to brush up on math skills.

Posted by:

30 Jan 2020

very nice in what I think is called STEM subjects. too bad they don't have language and linguistics for old guys like mee.

Posted by:

Dick E.
30 Jan 2020

Thank you for the article Bob. As you have indicated in other articles, there are many free education sites on the internet. I think Khan Academy is a step above all the rest. Salman Khan is truly a leader in providing free education to anyone in the world with an internet connection.

Posted by:

vicki L
31 Jan 2020

thank you for the informative articles. I have learn much reading them over the years.

Posted by:

31 Jan 2020

I went to sign up but they say they want to be able to link with my google account. I assume If i had a FB account and used that to sign in they would want to link to that also. I don't like when one application wants to link with, as far as I can see, something that has nothing to do with their site.

EDITOR'S NOTE: There's also an option to sign up with your email address.

Posted by:

31 Jan 2020

If it is free, how does he generate revenue?

Posted by:

Minoo Engineer
02 Feb 2020

At first I thought that Mr. Salman Khan was the famous and popular Bollywood Star, my mistake, it seems this is another Mr. Salman Khan in North America with the same exact name.
Thank you for this article, I will be 80 this year and will learn a thing or two from this site!!

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