Sometimes, learning can be a very expensive proposition. While lifelong learning is an important part of life, obtaining knowledge from classroom lessons or from any type of expert training usually costs more than many people can afford.
The beauty of the Internet is that it can bring you the knowledge and insight from millions of experts from all across the world in a way that was never before possible. And, when those experts and teachers are willing to provide that knowledge to the world in a manner that is either inexpensive or entirely free, the result is a powerful educational resource.
One example of one of those resources is a website called Khan Academy
. At Khan Academy, you'll find a library filled with millions of lessons and self-paced exercises developed by experts and educators from all across the world. These lessons represent valuable knowledge that you can gain without spending any money at all - the entire library is free to access, and the practice lessons are completely free to take.
Khan Academy Main Page
From the main page, the first thing you'll notice at Khan Academy is that it is simple and very fast to get started. Once you sign up and create your free account, you can start browsing through the millions of available lessons, including thousands of actual instructional videos and over a hundred exercises that you can use to test your comprehension of the material. To get started, either click on the "Browse the library" button or the "Try an exercise" button.
Browse Through High Level Lessons
The lessons that are available at Khan Academy include everything from basic math all the way up to advanced Calculus. You'll also find lessons on subjects like Biology, Economics and much more. Just scroll down the page to the topic area that you're interested in, and then click on the subject matter areas that you would like to learn more about.
A Khan Academy Video Lesson
What sets Khan apart from so many other tutorial sites on the Internet is the fact that most of the lessons provide visitors with an experience that most closely matches the classroom experience. Videos range from ten to fifteen minutes. While you watch, the instructor will use the mouse to write on the virtual "chalkboard", while talking through the lesson in a slow and methodical way. You will feel as though you're sitting in a classroom while a teacher is providing a lesson and writing on the chalkboard. It's about as close as you can get to a classroom experience for free.
Advanced Science Lessons
The bulk of the lessons that are available at Khan Academy seem focused on mathematics and science. Not all of the lessons are about lower level grammar school or high school concepts either. You'll also find college-level advanced instructions which even include advanced biology, like the lesson above which describes genetics and the natural variation in a species.
The instructors that provide these lessons speak in a very clear and understandable way. You can pause the lesson at any time, and then resume watching the video later whenever you're ready.
The "Practice" are of Khan is devoted exclusively to mathematics, and it actually provides you with an entire roadmap from the most basic mathematical concepts all the way up to the most advanced math concepts available on the website. In this practice area, you can step through each of these stages and take each of the practice sessions to build up points and advance to the higher levels and more advanced practice sessions.
Simple and Fast Practice Sessions
The practice sessions are suitable for students of all ages - from basic math practice like adding and subtracting, all the way up to more advanced algebra and calculus. This is an excellent way for students of all ages to get some extra practice, which can supplement schoolwork and help to better instill the lessons they've learned in the classroom. The student just has to type in the correct answer into the Answer field and then click on the button to submit. Each practice session includes about ten questions. At the end of the session, the student collects points and higher levels of practice get activated.
During the lessons, a colored indicator at the top displays what question the student is on and how much of the lesson remains. When the lesson is nearly completed, the indicator bar will be red on the right and the total number of questions will be displayed on the right side of the bar. This visual indicator of progress helps to keep students motivated to keep going and complete the practice session all the way through.
Coach Your Own Students
One interesting way that Khan Academy allows educators and others to help guide groups of people through their learning experience is by becoming a "Coach". To become a coach in Khan Academy, all you have to do is tell your students to "Add a Coach" and enter in your Khan Academy ID. After you have a group of students that claim you as a coach, you will gain access to their progress and the history of their learning and practice sessions. By using this service, teachers can assign Khan Academy lessons and practice sessions to classroom students as a form of additional study, and then monitor the students' progress as they take the Khan practice sessions.
The Khan Academy Learning Plan
As students advance through each level of the learning roadmap, gain points and open up new areas - the roadmap highlights all of the new areas that are open up. The roadmap provides nice visual motivation for students to advance through each practice session and light up the entire roadmap.
Chart Personal Progress
Another nice feature of Khan Academy is the ability to monitor and chart your own progress through the Khan points system. When you click on your profile link, you'll see a display of your activity in chart form. You'll see how many practice session points you accumulated each day, how many minutes of video you watched, and even how many minutes of practice exercises you accomplished. This is also the area your coach (teacher) will be able to see when you have a coach guiding your progress through the Khan Academy lesson roadmap.
Khan is an excellent warehouse filled with countless opportunities to supplement your own learning, or the learning of students that you may lead as an educator. Khan has the knowledgebase as well as the monitoring tools required to make it a valuable tool in any educational toolbox.
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