I’m always on the lookout for free or low cost educational tools to review or feature here. School is tough, especially when you don’t learn in the same way the information is taught, so often, supplemental sources are needed.
|Yay, scratch paper!|
Recently, I’ve been playing around with Khan Academy, a free quiz, video and forum resource.
For the most part, Khan seems to be a pretty decent resource for people who are already good with visual and auditory teaching styles, since it’s primarily video based. However, I do like how the subject matter is approached on a contextual level.
There are quite a few subjects available, but I only tried elementary math, biology, history and a tiny bit of programming.
I’m terrible at math, and I always have been. In part, that has to do with the way it was taught, but a lot of it probably has to do with my less-than-linear thought processes.
At first, I liked it. I worked through the simple problems, clicked on the videos when I couldn’t remember a concept or used the hints offered to solve the problem. However, when it got to the point of re-learning what I’d forgotten, I got hopelessly lost.
If I were a student, I would have then turned to the forum to ask for clarification, but that still doesn’t resolve the issues around needing a different way of getting math facts to stick.
As for teaching the neurodivergent population how to do math, I don’t think Khan would be a good primary resource, but it is a great option for running drills and reaffirming previously learned information.
While the teaching method relied heavily on memorization, the videos themselves were pretty handy. The teacher broke down each problem into its elements, and used different colors on a dark background to illustrate how to complete the problems. I personally found the color scheme helpful, since black on white has always been problematic for me, where the reverse is easier on my brain.
Although this section also seemed to follow the lecture model, I found myself enjoying the content, and understanding the sequence of events more easily than I had in school.
The teacher had a way of connecting the patterns of culture and language with political events of the day that captured my interest very well. He also made sure to keep the individual events in context with the overall cultural climate of the times, which helped give a better feel of why things happened the way they did.
Since there were so many videos, I didn’t watch them all, but there were some topics that I don’t remember being covered in any of my classes, like how and why Hitler rose to power after WWI and the history of Yugoslavia and how it related to the world wars. There are also articles, quizzes and forums available in the history section.
In terms of subject matter, I think they do a much better job with history than they did with math. I can see how a homeschooling parent can put together a very decent lesson plan with the information from Khan.
Of course, it’s hard to get the full picture of what went on in any historical event, because it’s usually so much more complicated than we can comprehend at first. Khan has some great resources, but I’d still suggest diversifying your sources to include a more complete picture.
I love science. I have for about as long as I can remember, and I was one of those girls that went against the stereotype of passing out at the sight of gross things. Dissection was one of the most interesting parts of my biology classes.
I knew that wouldn’t be an option for an online educational resource, but I have seen some great videos about biology, before. Unfortunately, that’s not what I found.
Most of the videos I forced myself to sit through were eye-glazingly dull. On the up side, though, the forum was active, and questions were answered quickly. The information itself seems to be accurate, as well.
I did take the time to watch the full series about asthma, and learned a couple of things about a couple of diagnostic and treatment methods. Since I’ve had that disease since I was 12, I’ve put a lot of time into researching it, but I’m always glad to learn new things.
Personally, though, I’d suggest trying other resources for science info.
I’ve only done a little bit with the programming section, but so far, it’s been surprisingly easy.
Between my issues with short term memory and math problems, I’ve always been rather intimidated at the thought of learning computer programming. I’ve found these basic lessons pretty easy to pick up on, though.
In Khan, you start out with basic java programming to draw shapes. The videos illustrate how to input location versus measurement in the program itself. That visual representation helps put meaning to otherwise seemingly nonsensical characters.
I think I’ll keep playing around with that section, and see how it is as I move along with it.
Overall, Khan seems to be a pretty decent supplement to a person’s education. It can be a good resource for home schoolers, especially considering it’s free, but I wouldn’t rely exclusively on it.
It doesn’t hurt to check it out.