To all of you parents who feel that what your child is learning in math is beyond your memory of math details in school, this column is for you.
If you've ever stayed up late to Google “surface area of a prism” in order to explain the concept at home to your child, or called a relative with a math degree for answers to questions, then there is hope.
I know it's the end of the school year, but I recently discovered the Khan Academy website, which has more than 3,100 videos explaining various concepts of all grade levels in individual lessons. I wish I had been using this website, developed by Salman Khan and found at www.
As of March, there's now a related Khan Academy mobile application on the iTunes store. The app includes the video lessons found on the website, as well as a list below each one of the concepts explained and where in the videos they can be found.
The app, the website and access to all of the content is free and includes math subjects from basic arithmetic and pre-algebra through calculus and beyond, plus science, finance and economics, humanities and preparation for tests like the SAT.
All of the videos feature Khan explaining the lessons off-camera while demonstrating his points via scribbles on screen.
“The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission,” states its website. “We're a nonprofit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”
Khan Academy started several years ago when Khan, then a hedge fund analyst in Boston with degrees from MIT and Harvard, wanted to help his 12-year-old cousin practice her math skills.
He spent 30 minutes to an hour each day on the phone working on math with her using an interactive notepad; later, discussions included his other cousins. He found he needed better tools and started posting his tutorials on YouTube in 2006.
“I started making the videos so they could pause it and watch a lot of the stuff at their own pace and their own time,” he says in a video interview posted on the website. “It's been a very organic process.”
The website and app are extensive and have enough information to help students, coaches, parents and teachers use the videos and the exercises in classrooms, for extra coaching or simply to learn something new.
Khan also has become a leader in discussions about the online classroom movement. He started out funding it with his savings, but since then, he has received donations from corporations, individuals and organizations like The Gates Foundation and others. He won Google's “Project 10 to the 100,” featuring ideas to change the world, which came with $2 million in additional funding.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal featured a column by Khan called “Turning the Classroom Upside Down.”
“Why not have lectures at home and ‘homework' at school — and let students learn at their own pace?” reads the introduction.
“To us, the conclusion is obvious: Students simply do better when schools show respect for their natural curiosity and intelligence and give them a chance to achieve an intuitive understanding of fundamental concepts,” Khan wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “It turns out that, in order to juggle knives, it helps if you've first learned to juggle oranges with ease.”
As of March, the site had 6.2 million unique visitors and the videos have been watched more than 135 million times.
My son said he plans to use the website and app from now on when he needs help to understand his math lesson or when he needs a different explanation to reinforce the one his teacher gave. As all of my children continue to advance beyond the math I remember, I'm sure they will find it helpful, too.
Khan Academy would have made this first year of math in middle school much easier.
How would you use this app or website? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer, as well as other app ideas for learning tools. For more apps, go online to Blog.NewsOK.com/get-appy.
I started making the videos so they could pause it and watch a lot of the stuff at their own pace and their own time.”