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Khan Academy’s learning experience

Khan Academy’s learning experience is part of Khan for Educators, a free course for teachers to learn more about Khan Academy, the content and tools available for teachers and students, and best practices for implementing technology with students. Created by Khan Academy.

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Video transcript

- So at Khan Academy, we are striving to create personalized mastery based learning that transforms student's mindsets. And within that I think there's a three things that make our value proposition unique. The first is that our content is provided free of charge for teachers and students. The second is that we have custom content that's aligned to standards in different countries. So in Brazil, to the BNCC. Or in the US, to the common core. And the third is that we are a technology that's not just a substitute for paper and pencil, and not such a dramatic change that it'd be overwhelming and you'd have to rethink everything in your classroom, but right in the middle to offer an innovative change that is not too overwhelming for teachers. For us at Khan Academy, mastery learning is fairly simple. It's that the incentives, the decisions in class should be made based on what students are proving they understand consistently. And in many cases that happens in tests, maybe not 'til the end of year tests, but we think it should be a full year process building up to that point. Really it's not like a yes or no, are you fully mastery based or are you not at all mastery based, there's a spectrum of ways you can change over your classroom to be more mastery based. When it comes to personalization though, there's a few things that are really important. The first is that there's the right content for students. And that might not be the same for all students in the class. And we can help personalize that content, but at the end of the day it is the teacher that's going to be most effective at personalizing the content using Khan Academy. And second, it's self-paced. So that if I need more practice on a given topic, I can have it. I can have what we sometimes call a functionally infinite amount of practice. If you're not getting it, try again, no problem. Well when we think about the student mindset that we'd all hope to have, both for ourselves and for our students, I think it's a student that believes strongly in their own potential, and has the learning strategies to actually understand difficult material. And so there's a few ways we try to enable that mindset for learners on our platform. The first is to remove all barriers to learning. So there's the content accessible for all students at all times, and then there's support while you're practicing if you get stuck. And so there's no excuse to not start learning, and to not persist when you're stuck. The focus is on you. The second though is processes to get unstuck, for lack of a better word. And so you're in the middle of learning and you're stuck, which is totally fine. It's normal, happens to everyone. But right below the practice it's gonna say are you stuck? Get help. There's multiple ways that you might need help. You maybe need a hint, you maybe need to watch a video, you might need to ask your teacher. But by going through that process, you figure out when the right time is to use each of those strategies. And then the third is through encouragement that we give on the site, whether you're getting problems right or wrong, that reinforces the message that it's the effort that counts. Student agency is a really popular topic right now in education, and I think that sometimes there's a mistake that it's going from no agency to total agency. But we really see it as a spectrum. And on Khan Academy at a minimum, the agency that we think is important for students to have would be to answer some questions like am I on track to complete these assignments? What order am I gonna work on them? And when do I know if I need help? But as you start to show more maturity, being able to take control a little bit more of the learning process, then you can start to make some bigger decisions. Like what's my actual goal for this week, or this month, or the whole school year? What matters to me? And when I'm done with this content, are there other subjects that I want to explore on my own that aren't even required? So the learning experience on Khan Academy. Well it could be different from student to student, I like to think of one student's experience in particular. So his name is Damien, he's an 11 year old in southern California, Los Angeles, but I think his experience could be typical of students in Sao Paolo, or anywhere around the world. But there were a few things about his experience that I think were really important, and that I took away from the ideal experience on Khan Academy. So the first is that he had a really clear goal for the year that his teacher had provided for him on Khan Academy. And every time he logged in, the first thing he saw was his progress toward that big goal. But combined with that big goal, each day as he was practicing, he had really detailed support, both instructional support through the videos and articles, and then the practice support through the exercises and challenges and unit tests. And not only that, but he also had his teacher there as a resource if the instructional resources weren't enough. And there was this combination of his teacher, Ms Choo being an expert about how to use Khan Academy, but also Damien having some freedom and choice and agency to move on if he was done. To have his own freedom to choose what he was gonna work on that day. So that balance between the teacher really being able to guide Damien towards the right material but him also having freedom and control over his learning process. So you've got the big goal and the detailed support, and you've got the teacher as the expert, but the student still having the freedom. And that's I think what makes the learning experience distinct on Khan Academy.