How to Learn Almost Anything For Free

Category: Education

Back in 2004, Salman Khan just wanted to help his 13 year-old niece learn math. Today, he has his sights set on helping anyone learn anything, for free. Bill Gates and Google supporting the effort, too. The Khan Academy has video tutorials covering Math, Science, History, Finance and many other subjects. You can even find test prep for college entrance exams such as the SAT and GMAT. 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 niece 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 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 millions of dollars 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 over 2,700 video tutorials.
Free Online Learning

There aren't typical pedagogical videos. Each is short - 7 to 15 minutes long. Khan does not appear in any of his videos; only his voice explains what he's writing 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 sixth grade through college level 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. A peer-to-peer tutoring program for personalized instruction is also in the works. 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 has kicked in $2 million to develop new videos and translate existing works into other languages. In November, 2011 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.

Khan Academy is not without its critics in traditional pedagogy. His method is nothing more than old-fashioned rote memorization, say some. Others claim that some of his recorded lectures are inaccurate or superficial. But with thousands of videos covering hundreds of topics, those who dismiss the Khan Academy as having little value come off looking a bit shrill. The nice 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 "How to Learn Almost Anything For Free"

Posted by:

21 Dec 2011

LOVE LOVE LOVE Khan Academy! We discovered it after reading an article about it in Wired magazine. Not only is it great for helping my daughter with her 4th grade math homework, but there are wonderful tutorials on grown-up topics too, like economics, politics, and other societal issues. He has an amazing way of explaining just about anything so that it makes complete sense, no matter how complex it might be.

Posted by:

21 Dec 2011

My kid uses this site for home schooling her kids.

When I was a kid one would be hard pressed to find a name like "Salman Khan" in the phone book. The "new name" Americans might be the salvation of the USA. We need their DNA and social contracts in our mix.

Posted by:

21 Dec 2011

Thanks Bob,great info and much appreciated-SK.

Posted by:

21 Dec 2011

At 73 y o, and very interested in science and maths, It was a real Wow! discovery... Thanks for your informations. I'm looking for anaother... and another.

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