Research on the Use of Khan Academy in Schools 

diverse elementary school students in computer class

SRI is conducting a study to understand how math teachers are using the Khan’s Academy online resource in classrooms to improve instruction and student learning. 

Since Khan Academy’s appearance on the Web, users have viewed more than 365 million videos and solved over 1.8 billion math problems. The Khan Academy website offers free instructional videos for students and teachers in grades K–12. The interactive content library also includes practice problem sets, progress reports for teachers and students, and game mechanics to encourage student engagement. 

Although it originally focused on helping individual users learn on their own, outside of formal institutions, as a leading digital learning organization in K–12 education, Khan Academy is now also working closely with schools to explore ways of transforming how instruction can be organized, delivered, and experienced by both students and teachers. 

Today, teachers around the globe have access to more online learning resources than ever before, and more products are in the pipeline as entry costs decline and public access to high-speed bandwidth devices increases. With an ever-growing array of choices, educators need more and higher-quality information about which products can work best in different settings and for different students, the factors that support more effective use in schools, and the opportunity costs and challenges of choosing one product over another. 

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in fall 2011 Khan Academy began a 2-year formal pilot program in a number of California school districts, charter schools, and independent schools serving diverse student populations. At the same time, the foundation contracted SRI Education to study the implementation of Khan Academy resources and tools in those schools during the 2011–12 and 2012–13 school years. The study involved the participation of 20 public, charter, and independent schools; more than 70 teachers; and approximately 2000 students in each study year. 

The primary goal of this research was to generate information for school systems, school leaders, and teachers on how Khan Academy, and by implication other similar digital learning tools and resources, could be used to support personalized math learning (i.e., learning that tailors what is taught, when it is taught, and how it is taught to the needs of students working individually and with others). Such guidance is sorely needed at a time when school administrators and teachers are rapidly incorporating digital learning into classroom instruction, but often lack the experience base needed to foresee all of the challenges and opportunities entailed in implementing technology for personalized learning. 

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