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Khan Academy Review: Pros, Cons & Alternatives
Table of Contents
- What is Khan Academy?
- How Does Khan Academy Work?
- The Pros and Cons of Khan Academy
- How Much Are Khan Academy Courses?
- What Kinds of Courses are Available at Khan Academy?
- How to Choose the Right Khan Academy Course
- Best Khan Academy Courses
- Our Khan Academy Review: In Summary
- Final Verdict and Rating
- Alternatives to Khan Academy
- Frequently Asked Questions
Khan Academy has provided some form of free education since 2008. It has received millions of dollars in donations and funding, with Google donating $5,000,000 in February 2022. Students can learn entirely for free on this platform — and even enjoy some gamification elements for motivation. But what exactly is Khan Academy, and who is it for?
- Khan Academy focuses on providing free education at a K-14 level, even including test prep for standardized tests like the SAT.
- The platform has gamification elements and achievements to help motivate learners.
- You don’t need an account, but it’s a good idea to have one anyway to track progress and access more features.
- Khan Academy gets its funding from donors, whether they are individuals or large companies and foundations.
- Many courses have transcripts available in other languages, thanks to volunteer translators.
- Khan Academy is available on iOS and Android.
In this Khan Academy review, we’ll look at every aspect of the popular learning platform. We’ll explore the courses available, how the website works, and how it gets its funding so it can continue to provide education for free. Let’s get right to it!
What is Khan Academy?
Khan Academy is named after Salman Khan, who established it over a decade ago in 2008. It originally started just as a way for Khan to help tutor his cousins, Fast-forward to today, and it has grown into a massive 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on providing a free education to all. Courses are generally taught through short videos and “virtual blackboards.”
Khan Academy offers courses to accommodate K-14 learners, with a few courses for adult learners. Students gearing up to take standardized tests can also use KA’s resources to prepare, as the platform has test prep for the SAT, ACT, LSAT, and GMAT.
Beyond being a website for learners, Khan Academy also offers resources for parents who homeschool their children and teachers who need supplemental lessons or resources.
Is Khan Academy Legit?
Absolutely! Many Khan Academy reviews will tell you just how legitimate the platform is. But you don’t have to take our word for it — since its establishment in 2008, Khan Academy has provided quality education to everyone at no cost. But is Khan Academy a reliable source? The answer is also yes — here’s why:
Two years after its founding, Khan Academy received contributions of $2 million and $1.5 million to jumpstart the platform. These grants were given in 2010 by Google and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, respectively. Several supporters, including Comcast, College Board, and Bank of America, have even given over $10,000,000 each. As recently as February of 2022, Google made another $5,000,000 donation to Khan Academy for content development.
Aside from Khan Academy’s 200+ experts who ensure course quality and provide accurate information, the platform also has contributors who translate course videos into other languages.
In 2015, Khan Academy published an article discussing college students’ experiences with Khan Academy. Although Khan Academy has shifted its focus to providing a K-14 education, the article is still quite a testament to the platform’s legitimacy. It states that out of 504 surveyed Stanford Students, 65% said KA made a meaningful impact on their education. Out of 159 surveyed students from top schools like Harvard, UPenn, Princeton, MIT, and more, 57% stated Khan Academy was meaningful to their education.
Is Khan Academy Accredited?
No — and Khan Academy acknowledges this. For this reason, the Khan Academy lessons are better used as supplements to more traditional education.
Is Khan Academy accredited for homeschooling? Unfortunately, no again. However, that doesn’t mean parents can’t use it as a resource. Khan Academy has a resource for parents who homeschool their children located here. Finally, is Khan Academy good for math? Yes! Some parents even use Khan Academy’s math courses as a full curriculum.
Because Khan Academy isn’t accredited, learners cannot earn certificates.
Who Should Use Khan Academy?
Khan Academy is for anyone in pursuit of knowledge and learning. You can be any age from any background, and chances are you’ll find something to learn on the platform. However, it’s worth mentioning that in the past couple of years, Khan Academy has doubled down on its focus to provide a more K-14-oriented education. They even retired some courses in 2020 to better align their catalog toward K-14.
Because Khan Academy is 100% free, it’s an excellent resource for students with limited access to quality education. Khan Academy’s courses and content have even been used in some non-profit organizations’ initiatives to provide education to those without access to power or the internet.
Learners aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this platform. Khan Academy is also quite helpful to teachers looking for resources or parents homeschooling their children.
How Does Khan Academy Work?
Once you arrive at Khan Academy’s website, you’ll see its simple and straightforward user interface. The web design is simple and uncluttered, making navigation a smooth experience.
On the homepage, you’ll see four clickable buttons: Learners, Teachers, Districts*, and Parents. Clicking on Learners, Teachers, or Parents brings you to Khan Academy’s sign-up page where you can sign up as a learner, teacher, or parent. Each account has different features that can benefit you. However, you don’t even have to create an account to use the platform.
Learning is as simple as clicking the “Courses” link on the home page’s top left corner. You’ll see a drop-down menu of all available Khan Academy courses. Simply select the course you’d like to learn, and it will take you to the course’s page. For example, clicking on Computer Programming will bring you to the page below:
From here, you can select whichever lesson you’d like to start from. Let’s start with HTML. Clicking on “Intro to HTML” will open the course’s lessons, which are already arranged in order to make it easier for you to learn concepts one after the other.
Clicking on an actual lesson will bring you to the lessons page, which contains the lesson video, transcript, questions, tips, and more.
Account holders can earn “Energy Points'” as they watch lectures and complete certain tasks on Khan Academy. These points gamify the entire learning experience, encouraging you to continue your journey.
According to Khan Academy’s information page, energy points measure the effort spent learning on the platform. However, they do not measure your ability or mastery of the subject. You can earn points by:
- Completing a video
- Completing challenges in computer programming
- Doing practice problems
- Completing tasks
But what exactly can you use the points for?
Earning points can help you earn a badge. You can also use them to evolve your profile avatar:
Another form of gamification on the platform is badges (and challenge patches). You can earn badges in different ways — earning energy points, learning computer science, building exercise mastery, and more. Badges have five levels: meteorite (most common), moon, earth, sun, and black hole (rarest).
Badges, avatars, and energy points help motivate learners to finish lessons, tasks, and exercises. It’s a novel way to get students to keep up with their courses!
*Khan Academy Districts is one of the platform’s offerings targeted toward school districts. It provides data insights, professional development, and tools to teachers, principals, and district administrators, helping them monitor students’ use of KA.
How to Open a Khan Academy Account
Setting up a Khan Academy account isn’t mandatory. You can get by without ever signing up for one, although you’ll miss out on a few features. For example, you won’t be able to:
- Track your progress on the courses you are learning
- Earn any energy points
- Earn any badges
- Use any avatars
- Participate in course question sections and forums
If you use Khan Academy without an account, the website will notify you that your progress isn’t saved, along with an easy link to log in or sign up.
Luckily, signing up for a KA account is incredibly straightforward. From the homepage, click on one of the buttons below to begin the sign-up process. Districts are more for student districts, so choose Learners, Teachers, or Parents.
Don’t worry if you click the wrong item — the next page allows you to change your choice.
When signing up as a student, you’ll need to enter your birth date. Once you do, you can sign up with an email address or using your Google, Facebook, or Apple account. Users must be 13 years or older to create an account; otherwise, their parents can create the account for them.
You can sign up as a teacher with an email address or a Google, Facebook, Apple, or Clever account. Check out some teacher account benefits below:
You can sign up as a parent using your email address, Google, Facebook, or Apple account. Once you have created your parent account, follow KA’s instructions to create an account for your child.
The Pros and Cons of Khan Academy
Is Khan Academy good? The platform has a few advantages and disadvantages, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many critical reviews. Let’s assess the pros and cons of Khan Academy:
How Much Are Khan Academy Courses?
Learning at Khan Academy will cost you a big, fat… nothing! As a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization, Khan Academy provides its courses entirely for free.
Khan Academy states that its mission is “to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
When you go to Khan Academy, you’ll notice no prices or ads for revenue. So how exactly does Khan Academy fund everything, considering they don’t make any income?
Well, donors and philanthropists generously cover Khan Academy costs. Many supporters have donated millions to the platform, helping it provide its high level and quality of education. However, Khan Academy accepts donations from the common individual as well.
If you wish to donate to Khan Academy, you can do so here — every little bit helps. You can make a one-time donation or choose the monthly option. Khan Academy suggests monthly donations starting at $12 and capping out at $50, though you can also choose a custom amount. The platform also has a checkbox you can tick to add $0.30 to your monthly total to cover the transaction fees. For one-time donations, the transaction fees are $0.63.
When you donate to Khan Academy, you can do so via credit card or PayPal. You can also donate with a check or using Square Cash or Bitcoin. You can find more information here.
If you would like to offer your support to the platform without making any monetary gifts, you can choose to be a contributor to the platform, helping with things such as translation.
Does Khan Academy Offer Free Courses?
Yes — every single course at Khan Academy is absolutely free.
Khan Academy Tuition Refunds
Because the courses on Khan Academy all come for free, there is no need for refunds. Donations and contributions to the platform are also non-refundable. If you are on a monthly donation schedule, you can cancel your donation to stop the next month’s payment. The link to cancel your donation is at the bottom of your receipt.
What Kinds of Courses are Available at Khan Academy?
There are many courses available on Khan Academy, but most of them are geared toward a K-14 audience. Going to their website and clicking on the “Courses” link on the top left of the page will bring up the menu in the screenshot below:
Khan Academy has a few subjects available. Students can learn math, science, computing, arts and humanities, economics, reading and language arts, test prep, and life skills. Each category has plenty of sub-categories containing actual courses and lessons.
You may have noticed that Khan Academy mostly focuses on mathematics, even going so far as to provide three main categories — Get Ready Courses, Pre-K to 8th Grade, and High School and College. With how many math courses are available at various levels, it comes as no surprise that many teachers and homeschooling parents use Khan Academy’s math courses.
Of course, it’s also important to note that Khan Academy provides courses in computing, including computer programming and a few computer science courses like information theory, algorithms, and cryptography. You can also check out Khan Academy’s AP or College Computer Science Principles courses, which include topics like:
- Data Analysis
- Online Data Security
- Computing Innovations
You don’t even need to create an account — learning is as simple as navigating to your course and lesson of choice. Finally, you can view the lesson videos right in your browser (or in your mobile app).
How to Choose the Right Khan Academy Course
Choosing the right Khan Academy course for you is as simple as selecting one from the course menu. All the courses are available for free, so you can just stop and choose another course if you don’t like the one you’re on!
Best Khan Academy Courses
There aren’t many tech-related courses at Khan Academy, but we can certainly recommend the Computer Programming course.
Our Khan Academy Review: In Summary
Khan Academy is an excellent platform that many love. Here’s our review at-a-glance:
- User-friendliness: 4.5/5 - Using this platform is simple and doesn’t require you to be tech-savvy. We also like that having an account isn’t necessary to access the lessons.
- Convenience: 5/5 - Khan Academy is available on all platforms, including its iOS or Android app. You can even access the platform offline.
- Accessibility: 5/5 - Offline access, video transcripts, and transcript translation into as many as 28 languages win a max score from us.
- Affordability: 5/5 - It’s free. Need we say more?
- Certification: N/A - Khan Academy provides no certificates.
- Catalog: 2.5/5 - The catalog actually gets a 5/5 if you’re a K-14 learner. But for tech-related content, we give it a 2.5/5.
- Course quality: 5/5 - Khan Academy’s content specialists make sure courses are fact-checked and are high-quality.
- User support: 5/5 - You’ll notice Khan Academy offers excellent customer support, with thoughtful and constant responses to user inquiries and complaints.
- Payment methods: 4.5/5 - Khan Academy does its best to make it easy for you to donate using your credit card, PayPal, Square Cash, or Bitcoin.
- Refund policy: N/A
Final Verdict and Rating
It’s really difficult to find negative Khan Academy reviews. After all, it’s hard to fault Khan Academy — especially when it provides everything it does at no cost. However, with its main focus being K-14 education, you’ll have a tough time learning more than the basics to help you start your career in tech. Nevertheless, we believe Khan Academy is an excellent platform that deserves a rating of 4.5/5 stars — we just wish it had more courses for tech-related skills!
Our final rating: 4.5/5
Alternatives to Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers almost unbeatable value considering it’s completely free. However, if your main purpose is to learn new skills and knowledge to start or advance a tech career, Khan Academy might leave you wanting more. Luckily, there are many alternatives available — some of them even have free courses available. The best part is that most of these alternatives provide certificates you can add to your resume.
Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives:
- SkillUp by Simplilearn has hundreds of free courses available. These courses, which industry experts created, can help you learn from experts in the industry anytime, anywhere. With SkillUp, you get to learn 600+ in-demand skills — and you also get access to free guides, job interview tips, and so much more. Plus, if you want to learn more and get certificates you can put on your resume, you can sign up for one of Simplilearn’s paid courses.
- Udemy is an excellent platform if you want to upskill and get your career going. The platform has hundreds of thousands of courses, so you’ll likely find one that suits your needs (just make sure to check reviews). If you are unhappy with your course, you can return it within thirty days for a full refund. Udemy also has some free courses, but you must pay a fee for a certificate of completion. Finally, employers don’t always recognize Udemy’s certificates; however, if you can prove your skill or if you have a good portfolio, your certificate won’t matter as much.
- EdX is a MOOC platform created by some of the world’s most prestigious universities — Harvard and MIT. The platform features many courses for free or for a price, and even offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Courses are made in association with some of the best universities in the United States, so you can be sure of the quality.
Khan Academy is a wonderful non-profit organization with noble advocacy — to provide learning for free, to everyone, forever. With continued support from benefactors and philanthropic donations from massive companies and foundations, Khan Academy can continue on its mission for many years to come.
We hope this Khan Academy review has helped you gain more insight into this free e-learning platform and what it can do for you. Happy learning!
If you want to find more avenues to a dream IT job, we’ve got you covered.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Khan Academy Trustworthy?
Absolutely! Khan Academy has received donations from major companies and charitable organizations such as Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Comcast, the Elon Musk Foundation, and College Board. In February of 2022, Google made an additional $5,000,000 donation to Khan Academy going toward content development.
Khan Academy has tons of experts helping them create and curate their courses, ensuring high quality all around. You can see their content specialists here.
2. Is Khan Academy absolutely free?
Is Khan Academy free? Yes! Khan’s online Academy provides free education for everyone, regardless of age or background. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization’s advocacy is to keep the platform free for anyone, anywhere, forever. To achieve this goal, Khan Academy accepts donations.
3. Can Khan Academy be Used as a Full Curriculum?
Generally, no — we don’t recommend using Khan Academy as a full curriculum. However, many parents who homeschool their children and traditional teachers use Khan Academy’s courses as part of their curriculum. Finally, you might consider only using Khan Academy as a full curriculum for its math courses, which go from early math to calculus.
4. What Age Group is Khan Academy For?
Khan Academy is a platform for all ages. Anyone can come and learn on the platform, regardless of their age, so if there’s something you want to learn, you can go right ahead and look for a course on Khan Academy.
That said, Khan Academy has shifted its focus toward K-14 education.
5. Can Adult Learners Use Khan Academy?
Yes! You can find courses at Khan Academy like history and science, which aren’t exclusive to younger-aged learners. Sure, much of the website’s content is more for K-14 learners, but don’t let that fact stop you. Learning is for anyone, any age. Try looking at the Life Skills section if there’s anything that interests you!