Home > Website of the Week Archive Detail

<< Prev 4/11/2010 Next >>

A Video A Day Clears the Math Cobwebs Away

A few weeks ago, the web site The web site Interactive Simulations was reviewed. It had been suggested by M.S. (Blaine, WA). At that same time, M.S. also suggested another web site, with the note that it "was passed to me by an electrical engineer friend of mine that he found from a news story. It features over a 1000 ~10min youtube videos on science and math that are little mini lessons. The couple I watched were pretty straight up, and clearly presented."

The web site is Kahn Academy, a not-for-profit organization with the admirable mission of "providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere."

M.S. was wrong...there are now 1200+ videos available, on topics ranging from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance. All of them are created, implemented, and posted by Salman Khan. Briefly, at age 34, Kahn currently is a portfolio manager in California, having a MBA, a Masters in electrical engineering and computer science, a BS in electrical engineering and computer science, and a BS in mathematics....which explains the wide range in video content. The FREE videos are categorized by content area, with no designation of appropriate grade levels.

In addition to "uncovering" the standard mathematical content for grades 6-14 (according to no standard curriculum), his videos explore:

  • Content areas on the California Standards Exams
  • Explorations of sample Calculus AB/BC Free Response Items
  • Financial Mathematics and Current Economics
  • Some brain teasers (on left hand menu)
  • A ton of advanced mathematics--linear algebra, differential equations, vector operations, and Laplace Transforms
I obviously have not looked at all 1200+ videos, but did some sampling. The usefulness of the videos seems more to help remind you of what you understand about a content area, not teach you that content. In turn, as the instructor, Salman Khan tries to play the role of a teacher, yet focuses more on the "hows" than on the "whys." Kahn admits that he teaches the way he wishes he had been taught...though claims he is after deep understanding. And, beware, on some of the videos I sampled, he made some conceptual errors in his explanations, which shows he can still dig deeper in his understanding.

Yet, overall, I recommend the videos as a quick review resource for both mathematics teachers and students. In turn, Salman Khan is to be commended for making these video resources available at no charge...as they are better than the drivel some companies sell at high costs.