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Khan Academy joins Bridge to find more amazing designers

Khan Academy Design Team

From Jason Rosoff, Lead Designer (third from the left):

Most folks I speak to know something about Khan Academy’s mission to provide a free world-class education to anyone anywhere, but many ask me what a designer does at Khan Academy.

What I usually tell them is that the design team at Khan Academy is a crack team of problem solvers who imagine and create real solutions to real student problems. Sometimes that means helping craft a new interactive way learn a math concept, or creating a platform for cool multi-step computer science challenge, or giving students a more meaningful understanding of their progress toward learning an important concept in mathematics. What it always means is solving real, meaningful, and impactful problems for millions of students around the globe.

Over the last few years, Khan Academy has built a great team of designers and engineers that together have built an amazing platform for learners and a showcase for content creators. We’re really excited to be working with Bridge and the Designer Fund to infuse fresh perspective and talent into our team.

If helping millions around the globe to learn more, more quickly, and more joyfully sounds like the kind of challenge that interests you, Bridge provides additional reasons to apply now. On top of our already awesome benefits package, Bridge gives you access to talks and workshops from top designers and access to a fantastic community of designers at top companies throughout the Bay Area.

If you’re interested, check out http://designerfund.com/bridge. Applications close on March 2nd. Apply directly here, http://app.designerfund.com/bridge/, and feel free to contact bridge@designerfund.com with any questions.

You can also learn more about our design team at http://designerfund.com/bridge/company/khan-academy/.

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Why does biodiversity matter for childhood leukemia?

Have you ever wondered what all those plants, animals, microbes and fungi do for us humans? Today we’re very happy to release the beginnings of our first collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences (CAS): a new series of tutorials on biodiversity.

In the tutorial on ecosystem services you can find out about the Rosy Periwinkle, a plant from Madagascar that creates chemicals used to treat childhood leukemia. You’ll also find explanations of how ecosystems work and explorations of biodiversity hotspots around the world.

The great news is that we’re just getting started. Exploring, explaining and sustaining biodiversity is at the core of the mission of the scientists at the CAS. We’re looking forward to sharing many more tutorials in the months to come.

In the meantime, check out this great video that explains the story of the Rosy Periwinkle!


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Khan Academy launches new college prep initiative

There is a big issue in the education system today. Two out of every three students are not prepared for college level math courses and over half of all 4-year college students do not graduate within 6 years. These students often take on a lot of debt and can’t finish their degrees. Worst of all, they then miss out on today’s most exciting careers because they lack the skills.

“2 out every 3 students are not prepared for college level math courses”

Given our mission to provide a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere, we’ve been hard at work to increase our college prep content. So, when the White House called (wait, did you say the White House?!) to invite Khan Academy to help students in Higher Ed reach their potential, how could we say no? We had already been creating new math and college prep materials, and saw the opportunity to make an even bigger impact.

Today, Sal was honored to discuss our higher education efforts at the White House and Khan Academy launched a new college prep initiative. We plan to expand this resource over the next few months, and especially look forward to providing college study aids to help students prepare for math placement tests and courses.  

“Already, Khan Academy’s free math resources are helping college hopefuls…today, Khan Academy launched a new college prep initiative.”

Already, Khan Academy’s free resources are helping college hopefuls. Our team was particularly inspired by this young man, whose story was captured on the Humans of New York blog.

"I was born in Egypt…The first time I went to an actual school was middle school, but the whole school was in one classroom, and I was working as a delivery boy to help the family. It was illegal for me to be working that young, but I did. When I finally got into high school, my house burned down. We moved into a Red Cross Shelter, and the only way we could live there is if we all worked as volunteers. I got through high school by watching every single video on Khan Academy, and teaching myself everything that I had missed during the last nine years. Eventually I got into Queens College. I went there for two years and I just now transferred to Columbia on a scholarship."

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We would find our efforts well worth it just to impact one student’s life. But what’s incredibly motivating for our team is that we hear of stories like his every single day.

We are humbled to be partnering with the White House on such an important initiative, and are excited about the potential these free resources will unleash.

Get started with our college prep resources today and learn more about our new college admissions resources here.

To check out more information on the White House’s Expanding College Opportunity, click here.



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Hour of Code Day 1: Coding is Caring

Post from Pamela Fox, Khan Academy Computer Science Content Engineer

Since I’m a woman in technology and that’s considered a rare find, I often get asked the question, “How did you start programming?” and I respond with this story:

When I was a kid, I was a bit forgetful when it came to buying presents for holidays, and I woke up on Mother’s Day realizing that I had no present for my mum. We lived in the boonies, and the nearest store was a two-hour walk away, past a high-security prison.

Well, I could have done the “draw a card, it’s the thought that counts” route, but I’d already done that in forgetful years past, so I needed a new “thought that counts” gift.

I had just recently discovered the web, and thought “Hey! I’ll learn how to make a webpage!” After a few Yahoo! searches (Google didn’t exist then) and a download of the “Microsoft Internet Explorer Assistant Plug-in,” I had made my first webpage.

It was just a converted Word art banner proclaiming “Happy mother’s day!” but hey, it was a webpage! And I made it myself! Needless to say, my mum was impressed, and from then on, I’ve been a programmer *and* never had to buy presents. :-)

So when it came to coming up with the curriculum for our Khan Academy Hour of Code, I thought I’d bring that same experience to the many new students learning to program this week, and made the final project be a greeting card, to share with anyone you want.

We’ve had thousands of projects made today, and it warms my heart to see that many of them are greeting cards filled with warm fuzzies and addressed to loved ones. Here are a few of my favorites — addressed to parents, relatives, teachers, and friends:

I love that the creators of those cards are learning that they can not only use coding to solve problems, but also to show they care.

We’re looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with on the second day!

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Thanksgiving: Giving thanks in the classroom

Post from Suney Park, Teacher in Residence at Khan Academy and 6th Grade Teacher at Eastside College Prep, CA

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share how I like to give my students regular opportunities to publicly thank classmates who have helped them. This has two great effects: the person thanking acknowledges that they need others, and the person being thanked feels significant and valuable to the classroom community.

How do I do it? Two simple initiatives:

1. At the end of every math session I dedicate about five minutes to Thank Yous, and students rush to put their hands up to give props to their helpful classmates.

2. Once a month my students are randomly paired with one another for a weekend letter-writing homework assignment. In the letters, they thank, appreciate, and compliment one another; sometimes the letters include creative touches such as drawings, stickers, and little snacks!

Once I started doing this, giving thanks and verbally expressing appreciation became a regular part of my classroom culture. Now, my students feel safe enough to ask for help and confident enough to offer it. I was only able to implement my Khan Academy “Need Help/Can Help” board during math class because of this foundation of classroom culture.

Plus, it warms a teacher’s heart to hear students thank and encourage each other so effortlessly and sincerely. Just last week I heard a student say, “I want to thank Nayely for helping me because without her I would still be stuck on finding the least common multiple the long way instead of using prime factorization.”

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