My first curriculum review was of Discovery Streaming, which I love. However, it has its limits. The discovery streaming videos often go further towards making a subject fun, rather than making it clearer when you are stuck. Not all of the videos will play on my son’s i-pod touch. Plus, as we progress through our AP level biology text, I find that the Discovery Streaming academics are not quite as rigorous and detailed as we need.
But luckily, I found another option. It’s FREE, it always plays on my son’s hand-held, it covers math from addition through calculus and beyond, it covers biology, chemistry and physics at the basic college level, and there’s even information about economics and the banking crisis.
This option is the Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a HUGE collection of educational lecture videos created by Sal Khan. He began this project as a way to tutor his younger cousins remotely, in their grade school math class. The videos don’t show him, they show a virtual black board where he writes in multiple bright colors. He speaks calmly and clearly over the videos, explaining things in a logical order.
Mr Khan is very well qualified to be teaching. His resume includes a degree in math from MIT, an MBA from Harvard, and other degrees and relevant work experience. Even more impressive, once this really caught on, he quit his lucrative career and started living off his savings, in order to build this full time. (He is also looking for corporate sponsors.)
We have used a number of his videos. I have used them to explain more complex concepts from our biology book, such as electron transport. I encouraged my 13 yo to browse his algebra videos when he was feeling stuck on his algebra book. In the end, we switched to Life of Fred pre-algebra and biology book – I know, it’s a strange combination, but happened to be a great fit for us! My son got stuck on a section where the problems were all about balancing chemical equations. I did one of the practice problems with him watching, and then he did it, and then he was able to do one problem. The next week, he went in to a panic attack trying to do the next problem. So I found a Khan Academy video on balancing equations. My son watched the video – and got it! He yelled from the other room “I got the problem right!”
The many thank you notes shown around the side of the video library page are amazing, and Mr Khan says that’s really what makes it all worth while for him – knowing that he’s helping people.
For a few interviews and a live presentation by Mr Khan, go here
And again, I am not getting any sort of payment or anything for my reviews, I just want to share what I’ve found.