Learning Online: Complement or Replacement?

Websites offering serious academic content, from arithmetic to organic chemistry, are proliferating and growing in popularity. Yet it remains to be seen if these sites will someday replace the traditional teacher-student relationship or simply complement it. One site, Khan Academy, contains perhaps the most significant potential for a new education model.

Find available tutors

online learning khan academy

The Khan Academy Model

Khan Academy is a not-for-profit website that offers education on a multitude of topics free of charge. The site uses video lessons, practice exercises and assessment tools to help users learn and master content. There are more than a few websites like it, but with over 3.5 million students watching its videos each month, Khan Academy is a leader in the online education movement.

Though it fostered a cult loyalty on its own, the site gained prominence in 2010 when Bill Gates noted that he uses it with his children. The site's founder, Salman Khan, has since been bolstered by a $2 million donation from the Gates Foundation and Google. That money will help Khan translate his site into ten languages and spread his online education revolution throughout the world.

Complement or Replacement?

Part of the appeal of Khan Academy is that it takes the classroom learning model and turns it on its head. In a geometry class, for example, students move through a textbook over the course of the year, learning concepts that build on each other and matching their progress to the calendar. With Khan Academy, students can jump from concept to concept, watching only the videos on topics they haven't yet mastered. Like a video game, students advance through levels at their own pace.

Khan has stated that his goal isn't to make teachers obsolete. But his approach challenges the convention of teachers lecturing to students in a passive, unimaginative structure. While a student in the back row of a class may be tuned out, he or she is less likely to get bored when controlling the lesson. At the moment, Khan and others like him may see their online education tools as a complement to traditional education. As Khan has argued, if a student fails to grasp how arcs and chords work in his or her geometry class, then an online lesson is there to help.

The Future of Learning

As tools like those at Khan Academy grow more sophisticated, students may wonder if class is truly worthwhile. If the goal of education is to teach students the material they need to know, then they may find that it's faster, easier and more effective to use a tool that moves at their own pace and challenges them with only the concepts they don't yet understand. If Khan and his peers continue to create better tools for assessing progress and responding to student needs, then online education may become the future of learning.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Should IT Matter How Your Child's Teacher Dresses?

    Dress codes have long been a staple in many schools across the country. In some cases, students and even parents have opposed them. But what about dress codes for teachers? When it comes to this issue, just where do most people stand? And should a teacher's clothing even be of concern to parents?

  • More Blog Articles
    How Can You Know if College Is Right for Your Child?

    A prevailing school of thought is that most people need college in order to be successful. But this certainly may not always be the case. Quite simply, not everyone is college material. If your teen will soon be graduating from high school, you may need to contemplate whether college is right for your child.

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online

K12

  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only

Kumon

  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only

TutorVista

  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth