Not just videos

It is currently a common misconception that Khan Academy revolves around videos. While the videos are core to the organization’s product and mission, Khan Academy–from its inception–has had a whole, separate interactive learning component to accompany the videos. After making the first few dozen videos for his cousins, Sal wanted a way to evaluate how well they were actually absorbing the concepts he was teaching–so he coded up a math problem generator. That problem generator has since evolved into 400+ exercises (as of May 2013), and Khan Academy has a large, full-time team working on this interactive learning platform itself.

Okay, so you believe me. Khan Academy does more than videos. What’s the big deal? The big deal is that Khan Academy is gearing up to be more than just a good-to-have supplementary educational resource for students needing a little extra math tutoring. It’s aiming to be a truly comprehensive learning platform…and that’s going to take a lot more than just videos. Yes, the videos help create a strong conceptual understanding of a topic. You can know absolutely nothing about a subject, and then go watch Khan’s introductory video on it, and immediately start grasping the core concepts. The more videos you watch on a particular topic, the more comprehensive your grasp becomes. But without attempting to apply that learning to an actual problem or exercise (and gauge your success at doing so), the learning is incomplete.

That’s where the interactive components come in. If you’ve seen Sal’s TED talk, it’s actually the stuff he starts talking about at 7:42.

And that was 2 years ago. Since then, the Khan Academy team has grown to 40 full-timers--not including the interns that are on board every summer (there will be 18 this summer). And the vast majority of these team members are engineers, building everything BUT the videos on the website. Things like: interactive problems for students to answer, dashboards for students to see their progress, tools for coaches and teachers to visualize strong and weak points in their students’ learning. There’s a LOT of work being put into this side of things by the Khan Academy team. And even though it may not be what people immediately associate Khan with, it will be very soon.