Khan Academy is one of the most established online learning platforms out there. It is only natural that, with growing popularity, more and more people are going to look for Khan Academy reviews. Well, if you’re one of those people - today’s your lucky day. You're about to find out if Khan Academy is worth your time and attention.
Seems like a pretty simple question to answer, huh? Well, you’d be surprised - with so many MOOC platforms to choose from, finding one that would suit your fancy can prove to be quite a challenge. Admittedly, though, Khan Academy does have a pretty interesting value proposition.
So, let’s begin by talking about what is Khan Academy. After all, it would be a bit tough to start discussing the learning experience of the platform without having an idea of what it stands for, right?
Verdict at a Glance: Khan Academy is a unique online learning platform, mostly due to the fact that it’s a non-profit organization. All learning material on it is completely free to access and study. Naturally, though, this means that there are no accredited certificates available - furthermore, the platform focuses on K-14 course complexity, which might not suit those who are looking for some more advanced learning resources.
- 100% free
- Good and reputable content
- A wide selection of courses
- No ads
- Could have more courses on certain specific topics
- No accredited certificates
- Might only be suitable for K-14 learners
Table of Contents
- 1. What is Khan Academy?
- 2. Khan Academy Review: PROS
- 2.1. As Easy to Use as You’d Expect
- 2.2. No Account? No Problem!
- 2.3. Good Content Quality
- 2.4. Completely Free to Use
- 3. Khan Academy Review: CONS
- 3.1. Only Suitable for Specific Niches + No Advanced Learning Materials
- 3.2. No Accredited Certificates
- 4. What’s the Learning Experience Like?
- 5. Khan Academy VS Competitors
- 5.1. Khan Academy VS DataCamp
- 5.2. Khan Academy VS Udacity
- 5.3. Khan Academy VS Udemy
- 6. Conclusions
What is Khan Academy?
So - what is Khan Academy?
To put it short, Khan Academy is a non-profit MOOC provider. Let’s break that statement down, shall we?
The platform being non-profit means that there is no such thing as pricing - everything that you’ll find on the site is available completely free of charge. You’ve read that right - you will not need to pay a single penny in order to learn on Khan Academy. You actually don’t even need to create an account to start learning either! I’m getting ahead of myself, though - we’ll get there.
MOOC abbreviates as “Massive Open Online Courses” - this means that Khan Academy provides its users with free, widely available, and subject-specific courses that they can learn from. The MOOC model has been steadily gaining popularity since the early 2010s, and is more popular today than ever before.
Now, I could go on a tangent about the variety of courses available on said platform, but that’s something we’ll get to in due time, as well - bear with me.
The company itself was founded back in 2008, by Salman Khan. This makes it somewhat of a veteran in the online learning space.
The entirety of the content on the site is presented in the format of YouTube videos - the same platform that Mr. Khan used in the very beginning to host his tutoring videos aimed at a small number of people, mainly his cousins.
With that said, you should now have a basic idea of what is Khan Academy. Let’s move on to the actual Khan Academy review, shall we?
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Khan Academy Review: PROS
As with anything else in life, online learning platforms have their pros and cons - factors that are either the strengths of the platform, or areas where it still needs to improve.
To help you decide is Khan Academy good for your specific wants and needs, I’ll tell you about both of those aspects, as it concerns this particular MOOC provider. Naturally, let’s start with the former - the best parts of Khan Academy.
As Easy to Use as You’d Expect
It’s very important that an eLearning platform is easy to use and has an aesthetically pleasing design.
Even though these things might not be on the top of your priority list, they still need to be considered - if the UI is smooth and the design doesn’t poke your eye, so to speak, then you’re probably going to be more likely to stay and explore the site, rather than just turning it off a couple of seconds after entering. First impressions matter, after all.
As you enter the Khan Academy’s homepage for the very first time, you will be greeted by an introduction, and an interface where you can choose one out of three options - for learners, for teachers, and for parents. The layout of the page is very simple and straightforward - you’ve got your course topics and subjects, a search bar and other basic interlinks, such as “Donate”, “Sign Up”, etc.
I must admit, I really like their front page - few learner Khan Academy reviews stress this, but the simplicity of the page is actually a really nice aspect. It doesn’t burden you with needless information, and aims to give you the main idea as soon as you enter the page - “You can learn anything”.
The page, even though it’s simple in design, isn’t generic. It offers a unique course topic layout that allows you to get a pretty good idea of what you can find on the platform itself.
Once you decide to choose a course, you can either do so by typing a desired keyword into the search bar, or choosing a topic from the drop-down menu on the main page. One thing that I immediately noticed is that, even though Khan Academy offers a wide selection of topics to choose from, the main emphasis lies on math and subjects directly related to it. Just a little something to keep in mind!
Once you choose a topic and a specific course, you will end up on that course’s landing page. The course page itself is a tad bit confusing. You have all of the basic, required information, such as course summary, overview, the “about” section in place, but the way that this information is scattered around the page could definitely be improved.
This shouldn’t take credit away from the quality of the information, however - a read-through of the page creates a pretty good idea of what you can expect from the course itself.
Overall, both the technical and the design parts of Khan Academy are pretty good. Even though I wouldn’t personally agree with some of the UI placement decisions, I haven’t seen any user Khan Academy reviews that would be upset with this.
The user interface is easy to use, simple and clear. Nothing lags, nothing crashes. The design is also very simplistic, but it serves its purpose - the site looks pretty, yet it doesn’t distract you with flashy color patterns, pop-ups or banners.
One of the most unique points of using Khan Academy, though, is the fact that you don’t actually need to create an account to start learning.
No Account? No Problem!
The lack of an account creation requirement makes Khan Academy stand out from the crowd. I’ve tried out dozens of different (oftentimes - very different) online learning platforms, and if there’s one thing most of them have in common, it’s that they will try to get you to sign up as soon as humanly possible.
Khan Academy - and other websites like Khan Academy - is different. Instead, if you don’t want to create a dedicated account, you really don’t need to - you can click on the course that you want to learn, and start studying it straight away, with no restrictions.
If you do choose to use Khan Academy with an account, though, you will have access to a personalized dashboard, as well as a profile that you can customize to your liking. One thing that I noticed while browsing the course page is that the platform even has an integrated “level” system - you gain XP (experience points) for learning and taking certain courses, thus increasing your overall level with time.
On top of that, another really cool initiative are the badges. If you learn on Khan Academy with a registered account, your progress will be tracked, and with time, you’ll be able to earn gamified badges, most of which are space-themed.
This is a great visual motivator, and it adds some interactiveness to the overall process of learning!
The company also offers some interactive features for teachers and parents. After they create an account, teachers are able to access a huge data pool of information (all standardized and up-to-par), practice exercises, video tutorials, and so on. Furthermore, Khan Academy offers tools to track student progress - something essential to all teachers.
If you’re a parent, you can create an account for yourself and your child, and thus track their learning journey.
So, in short - student Khan Academy reviews will tell you that while you can learn on the platform without having to register on it, creating an account certainly has some cool benefits!
Good Content Quality
The topic of content quality is one that often surfaces in conversations and learner Khan Academy reviews, especially when people are trying to figure out is Khan Academy good.
And rightfully so! The platform being completely free doesn’t mean that it gets a free pass when it comes to the quality of the content that it provides - if anything, it should have a pretty high standard when it comes to providing users with great courses.
Truth be told, most of the student Khan Academy reviews that concern the content are rather positive.
It seems that the majority of students love the courses available on Khan Academy, as well as the information they provide, and everything in between. This isn’t only the case with the Khan Academy’s math courses - whether it be engineering or science, computing or arts & humanities, people seem to be generally happy with what they get.
There are a couple of criticisms aimed at the learning material available on the platform. However, this is something that deserves a chapter of its own - we’ll get to it, in a minute.
That being the case, since the general sentiment surrounding the courses is so positive, I decided to investigate a bit further, and see if the praise really is warranted.
Or, in other words - I took a few courses myself.
Out of sheer research-driven curiosity, I decided to take the “AI for Education” course, as well as the “US History” one. And, to be fair, I found the content quality to be rather decent.
As I’ve mentioned earlier in my Khan Academy review, the courses are taught in the form of short YouTube videos. On the one hand, this is fine - it’s a familiar interface and video player, and you can easily visit the original video on its host site.
On the other hand, though, the one thing that I missed in my learning experience with Khan Academy is the interactiveness. Sure, the platform has tasks and quizzes, but I felt that they could appear a bit more often, and act as a knowledge check between different subjects.
In any case, once again - with the courses on Khan Academy being completely free to study, I can’t really complain.
Completely Free to Use
Pricing is a tough topic, so we should really go in-depth into all of the plans that Khan Academy… oh, wait. There is no such thing as pricing on Khan Academy!
As I’ve mentioned and reiterated countless times now (and as many other Khan Academy reviews state), creating an account and learning on Khan Academy is 100% free. The company aims to provide and make education available to anyone and everyone around the world - free of charge.
So, that’s pretty self-explanatory. However… Where does the company get all of the money to fund itself, then?
The answer is actually pretty simple - donations. And I’m not only talking about individuals coming in and donating money to the platform - although it helps immensely, there are also companies and corporations that fund Khan Academy and all of its ventures.
Just to give you an example, all the way back in 2010, Google donated $2 million to the Khan Academy. This was done to fund further development of the website’s content and for course translations into other languages.
It would seem that the MOOC provider exceeded expectations, because in 2021, Elon Musk donated $5 million. These are just a couple of donations, though - there are multiple different philanthropic companies that donate to and fund the platform.
Individuals have two options to help the website out - either by donating a one-time sum of money, or by committing to recurring payments. If you choose the latter, you can donate on either a monthly, or a yearly basis.
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Khan Academy Review: CONS
Right, so - when it comes to my Khan Academy review is conerned, so far, the MOOC provider appears to be nothing but great.
To be fair, when you’re dealing with an education-promoting non-profit that offers learning materials free of charge, it’s hard to even begin to complain.
That being said, it’s still worth emphasizing that Khan Academy won’t suit everyone’s wants and needs. Rather, the platform is targeted at some rather specific groups of people - those who are interested in K-14 learning.
Only Suitable for Specific Niches + No Advanced Learning Materials
“What in the world is K-14?”, I hear you ask. Well, it’s pretty simple - it’s an expression indicating a range of years, education-wise. Specifically, K-14 indicates the educational period from kindergarten to an associate’s degree.
One of the first things that you should understand when looking into what is Khan Academy is that the platform is oriented towards K-14 learners. So, the vast majority of learning material on the site is of middle school / high school and associate degree level.
Or, to put it even simpler - if you’re looking for advanced-level learning materials on select topics, chances are that you won’t be able to find them on Khan Academy.
Which brings me to my next point - the actual topics that you can study on the platform.
Khan Academy houses courses in the following fields:
- Arts & Humanities
- Reading & Language Arts
- Life Skills
Following that, you can also find some test preps, as well as partner courses hosted on the platform, of varying topics.
The core emphasis lies on Math courses - there’s a myriad of them to pick from, varying in levels of skill and complexity. Other fields, however, have significantly smaller choice pools, as far as learning materials are concerned.
If you’re part of the target audience of Khan Academy - perhaps a student prepping for their SATs? -, you’ll likely be able to find what you’re looking for. However, if you’re part of a group of people who are looking for some high-level educational resources, or you simply want to learn how to cook a great pasta, other websites like Khan Academy might suit you better.
No Accredited Certificates
Arguably one of the biggest cons associated with Khan Academy - as well as one that’s pretty obvious, when you think about it - is the fact that the MOOC provider doesn’t provide accredited certification. Let me explain.
Accredited certificates are valued among online learners for a few different reasons. First of all, you can often use them as college credit, for certain subjects. Another reason has to do with quality - if a course is accredited, it’s like a form of quality assurance - you can be sure that the learning materials are going to be up to standard.
Lastly, accredited certificates have a much higher chance of actually mattering to your potential employer - in turn, they act as a potential career boost, of sorts.
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Even though online learning has become a very popular concept (and is growing in popularity, ever still), I must say - few of the major MOOC platforms actually offer accredited certificates to their students. Glancing through learner Khan Academy reviews, unfortunately, this platform isn’t one of those few.
Again, that’s not at all surprising - with the non-profit’s focus on K-14 level education, and all courses being free to access, one can’t really expect any sort of accreditation.
What’s the Learning Experience Like?
A student’s learning experience is something that is really difficult to objectively measure. Different people will have different experiences - and this is not only because they will choose to learn different courses. Whether or not you had a fun and productive learning experience depends on many different factors - your mood, deadlines, wants VS needs, time of day, health, and - naturally - the course itself.
However, as subjective as this point may be, it's still possible to get an overall idea of what you can expect, whether it be from Khan Academy reviews, or from trying the platform out for yourself.
To get a pretty good idea of what you can expect your learning experience to be, you can simply take a look at Khan Academy’s YouTube channel. Since the main format that the platform uses are YouTube videos, you’ll be able to find a lot of different topics and subjects covered in them.
Looking at their subscriber count and, more importantly, their comments is a dead giveaway - the people do enjoy learning on the platform. It really is difficult to find a Khan Academy review that would be completely dissatisfied with the learning quality or experience. So, is Khan Academy good? Well… It seems so.
My own, personal experience with Khan Academy works to complement this, as well. As I’ve mentioned earlier in the review, I tried some of the courses available on the platform myself. In a very general sense, I can’t complain - sure, there are always some things that could be improved, but Khan Academy’s courses are alright.
As long as you’re part of the target audience, that is.
Khan Academy VS Competitors
By this point, you should have developed a pretty good understanding of what is Khan Academy all about.
Great - now what?
Well, whether you’re looking to buy new shoes, or choosing the best online learning platform for your personal development, chances are that both of those activities will have one thing in common - you’ll want to compare and contrast the product or service with its competition.
Let’s do just that - specifically, let’s see how Khan Academy compares with other big names in the industry.
Khan Academy VS DataCamp
On the one hand, Khan Academy and DataCamp are rather similar - both are MOOC providers, both focus on the technical topics of education (IT, maths, etc.), and are both used by countless numbers of people, all around the world.
On the other hand, though, both platforms are also very distinct from one another.
DataCamp is often viewed as the leader in the space, for anyone who wants to study data- and IT-centered topics. The courses available on the eLearning platform are of the highest quality, and taught by professionals in their respective fields.
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Table: The features of DataCamp and Khan Academy
DataCamp also has a myriad of additional tools that you can use, to aid your learning experience. Something that Khan Academy lacks, substantially.
To be fair, however, it’s probably safe to assume that very different people are going to use Khan Academy and DataCamp. While the former might be popular among middle-school and high-school students, the latter is mostly favored among advanced-level learners, and people looking to further their careers in their respective fields.
Khan Academy VS Udacity
Udacity is another established name in the industry. The MOOC provider is well-known among people who are looking for websites like Khan Academy, since they both have something in common - both platforms provide science-oriented learning materials.
A huge benefit of Udacity, however, is the fact that the platform houses some very high-quality courses. It also has something called Nanodegrees - special programs that will not only help you with advancing your career prospects, but also provide a certificate after completion, as well.
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Table: The learning process of Udacity and Khan Academy
These certificates aren’t accredited, mind you.
While Udacity is a paid service provider, it also has a wide selection of free courses, as well. On top of that, there's a variety of career services offered to students, in addition to hands-on projects that will make the learning experience *that* much more valuable.
Khan Academy VS Udemy
Udemy is certainly an interesting MOOC provider. The platform houses over 200k courses - that’s right, over two hundred THOUSAND courses. That’s absolutely insane.
There are free courses available, and the entire learning process is self-paced. For some, that’s great, for others - a con. It depends on your personal situation.
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Table: The information about the companies behind Udemy and Khan Academy
With Khan Academy, the courses feel a lot more intimate, since Udemy provides students with courses that instructors upload themselves. Naturally, when you’re talking about numbers in the hundreds of thousands, quality control is a major point of contention, as well.
However, it’s worth noting that Udemy is quite affordable, compared to some other competitors. While it’s not Khan Academy levels of affordable, you will still get a lot of value for your money, nonetheless!
Same as Khan Academy, though, Udemy does not offer accredited certificates - only those of course completion, for paid courses.
That pretty much wraps up my Khan Academy review.
I must admit - it’s certainly a unique online learning platform, no matter how you look at it. Being a non-profit, Khan Academy presents an altruistic approach to learning, and provides its students with completely free courses - it’s quite an interesting situation!
That being said, the one conclusion that comes up when analyzing Khan Academy is this - the MOOC provider will suit a very specific niche of audience. Specifically, those who are looking for K-14 level education.
With that said, I hope that you’ve found this Khan Academy review useful, and it helped you answer the question “is Khan Academy good?”. Best of luck!
1. Jon Baggaley: 'MOOC rampant'
2. Flinders D. J., Moroye C. M.: 'Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue: Vol. 17 # 1 & 2'