Khan Academy and the Google Art Project

From Khan Academy Co-Deans for Art and History, Beth Harris and Steven Zucker:

You may have been wondering what Smarthistory has been up to since we joined Khan Academy in October. We’ve had to keep this hush-hush…but we can now announce that we have contributed more than 100 videos to the unbelievably great, second iteration of the Google Art Project:

We’ve made 90 Khan Academy videos expressly for version 2, which launched today, April 3rd, at the Musée d’Orsay, the Art Institute of Chicago, and museums in many other countries. We’ve also contributed 26 pre-existing videos to the Art Project. Finally, we worked closely with Sandbox Studios to create an engaging introduction to looking at art:

Our videos can be seen in the education section (the playlist is embedded at the bottom of the first page) and on the specific object “detail” pages.

We jumped at this opportunity because the Art Project has such enormous educational potential. It is critical to gather works of art from different institutions to tell the nuanced stories of art history. The Art Project brings together works of art from 151 museums in 40 countries within a cohesive visual environment. The high resolution images, powerful zoom function, “Museum View” (an interior version of “Street View”) and the ability to collect and annotate images, are all features that are ideal for teaching and learning.

Museums of art safeguard, make accessible, and interpret our shared cultural history even as they help to define the civic aspirations of their communities. Museums have always been defined by place, although traveling exhibitions and, more recently, museum websites have helped to “jail break” the art. André Malraux famously identified this new ability to see across institutional collections in his essay, the “Museum Without Walls.”

For a “Museum Without Walls” is coming into being, and…it will carry infinitely farther that revelation of the world of art…which the “real” museums offer us within their walls.        

                                                      ——André Malraux, The Voices of Silence

As always, all content is free and open. If you’re an art historian, museum educator, or curator, and you’re interested in contributing to the work we’re doing, please contact us.

We especially want to thank Colleen Brogan and Rachel Ropeik for coming through in a pinch and for their uncanny ability to make complex ideas clear.

You can browse our full playlist of videos for the Art Project here:


Khan Academy Labs: Exploratory Exercises

From instructor Brit Cruise:

One of the most exciting aspects of joining the Khan Academy team was the potential to explore new ways of integrating video and software. As a new faculty member, I hope to deliver mini-courses as journeys. These journeys expose a user to a chain of concepts, ultimately leading to a field of study they will be encouraged to explore!

Instead of having the user answer questions after each video, I realized it would be beneficial to have them visually explore key concepts in real-time through exploratory exercises (Brett Victor does this brilliantly). I see this as a vital analysis phase in the experience; the salient aspects are a powerful learning mechanism.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up playing Will Wright’s video games that I was never a fan of right or wrong answers. Instead, the rewards are a result of your own discoveries:

With the help of David Sissitka (one of the many awesome volunteers who kick in @ Khan Academy), I was able to deliver some initial demos within 3 days of conceiving the idea:

Do you think you can mimic a coin flip?

Do you think you can mimic a coin flip?


Have you ever seen your frequency fingerprint in real-time?

Check out these first two (of many) explorations that are intended to supplement the journey into cryptography series. This is just the first step in what I hope will be a long and exciting experiment in education:


Khan Academy teaming up with Renren to bring free online education to China

With nearly 500 million Internet users, China is the largest online population in the world.  Our video lessons will be hosted at for free by Renren Inc. (NYSE: RENN), one of China’s leading social networking internet platforms, through its online video subsidiary  We’re excited about cooperating with Renren to further expand our education model outside the United States and continue to realize our mission to makeworld-class education available for free to anyone anywhere.


Khan Academy expands to Art History

Khan Academy is best known for our Math and Science content, but our goal has always been to provide a free world-class education on as many subjects as possible.   However, we knew that other subjects, particularly Art and History, require a different take on how to present the topics.  

We were thrilled to find Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker, the creators of SmartHistory.  Their style of spontaneous conversations, where speakers are not afraid to disagree and challenge each other, really resonated with us.  Their videos are short, casual, approachable, interesting, and thought-provoking, and they bring many of the same sensibilities that have really resonated with our audience.   

We are pleased to announce that we are joining forces.  Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker will join our faculty and lead the creation of Art, History, Architecture, and other content in the humanities.   

They have already created over 300 videos, and you can see them all at:  Over time, expect to see tighter integration of their content on

We think this is the beginning of a tremendous collaboration, and we are incredibly excited to push the frontier on freely available content in the Arts and Humanities.


New kids on the block

New exercises have been dropping by our knowledge map, and it’s time to give them a proper welcome!

This week, we added exercises that introduce basic angle concepts, such as acute, obtuse, right, complementary, and supplementary angles. Each exercise has a narrow focus to keep things simple (and to let you rack up those energy points!). If the exercises are too granular for your taste, try the harder ones first – achieving proficiency in “Complementary and supplementary angles” will make you proficient in “Complementary angles” and “Supplementary angles”.

We also added exercises on writing and evaluating expressions. What about those pesky expressions with unknown variables? Don’t worry, we cover that too. You might have played around with the linear equations module and the absolute value module, and now you can experience both concepts in the “Absolute value equations” module. Likewise for radical equations.

And that’s not all! We added two more types of word problems, and you’ll notice a slick new solid geometry module. There are a few more challenging exercises too, from logarithms to nested functions to the quotient rule.

Special thanks to Omar, Desmond, Eric, Jens, and Rock for their contributions!

Until next time,


Fun with angles:
– Angle types
– Degrees to radians
– Radians to degrees
– Radians and degrees
– Complementary angles
– Supplementary angles
– Complementary and supplementary angles

Fun with expressions and equations:
– Writing expressions 1
– Writing expressions 2
– Evaluating expressions
– Expressions with unknown variables
– Expressions with unknown variables 2
– Absolute value equations
– Radical equations 1

Assorted fun:
– Arithmetic word problems
– Rate problems
– Solid geometry
– Logarithms 2
– Range of a function
– Functions 3
– Quotient rule