The educational landscape has changed significantly in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In the United States, over 54 million students have had their academic year interrupted in the march to contain the virus. Schools have closed, cancelled in-person classes and moved instruction into the home via eLearning platforms.
One of the main beneficiaries of this movement to virtual classrooms has been the free, online learning platform Khan Academy. Founded in 2008 by Salman Khan as a non-profit educational organization, Khan Academy has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 years.
But has the coronavirus changed all of this? Is Khan Academy capable of withstanding the disruption of the pandemic?
This article seeks to answer this burning question.
History and Background of Khan Academy
Khan Academy is an educational platform that provides free online courses, practice tests, and tutorials in a wide array of disciplines, from math and science to humanities and history. The platform carries lessons structured in video format that are specialized for students of all ages. Khan Academy was created with the main goal of providing high-quality education for all, accessible for free and on any device.
This mission was carried out in innovative ways, as the platform began to include personalized review materials, exercises and exams.
Effect of the Coronavirus on Khan Academy
The coronavirus’ arrival brought about a shift in educational models, as millions of students around the world turned to eLearning. In this situation, Khan Academy, with its quality and free resources, was the go-to learning platform for many teachers and students alike.
It became a vital source of support for many during an unprecedented period of learning. Schools and institutions adjusted their learning methods and employed Khan Academy’s resources either as supplementary material, or completely integrated them in their curriculum.
Changes in Learning Habits
Now that students, especially in the United States, have had the chance to peek into the future of classroom instruction, their interests and expectations have changed. The added convenience and flexibility of learning digitally has proven to be a preferred option for teachers and students alike. If this trend continues, and an increase in eLearning platforms and technology is expected, it has potential to transform the experience of learning, and consequently, diminish the importance of Khan Academy’s valuable resource.
Khan Academy’s Struggle to Adapt
The shift towards virtual and digital learning has also seen Khan Academy face some of its biggest challenges yet. Firstly, Khan academy had to adjust their content in order to keep up with the times. This meant adapting their content to meet the varied needs of an increasingly tech-savvy student body.
This was a challenge, as their mainly volunteer base was not initially prepared for such an undertaking.
Concerns from Investors
Another issue that Khan Academy is struggling with is lowered investor confidence. Major business partners of Khan Academy, including the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, feared that the platform’s considerable success during the earlier stages of the pandemic could quickly be reversed with the potential displacement of eLearning methods once schools were able to re-open.
Lack of Live Instruction
Another issue arises with the lack of live instruction on Khan Academy. The platform offers quality video tutorials and material, however, many students thrive when they can interact with a live instructor. As other eLearning solutions, such as Zoom and Google Meet, become commonplace, it is likely that Khan Academy’s structure for learning will become obsolete by comparison.
Many students may come to see Khan Academy as old-fashioned and inefficient, leading to a decrease or discontinuation of use.
Decrease in Productivity
While Khan Academy is adapting their content to be more suited for digital learning, many teachers are starting to see a decrease in the productivity of their students. Teachers have had to adjust the assignments and assessments given, in light of the challenges that have come with the closure of physical schools. This has caused fatigue among teachers, knowing that the assessments assigned no longer accurately reflect the student’s understanding and potential.
As students become more accustomed to using eLearning platforms and access to live instruction lessens, teachers, as well as students, will be more likely to reach out to other learning sources more efficiently.
Need for More Funding
Khan Academy is also facing some financial issues during these difficult times. As Khan Academy continues to update its content, the platform needs more money to fund the production of new materials.
The platform is also facing competition from other eLearning startups and platforms, who have experienced impressive growth in light of the pandemic. Such companies, having received large investments, are making it difficult for Khan Academy to compete.
Impact of COVID-19 on Khan Academy’s Financial Standing
The pandemic has also caused a decrease in Khan Academy’s financial standing. Before the pandemic, Khan Academy was on track to receive $
7 billion in funding this year. This number has decreased significantly during the pandemic. The financial impact of the pandemic has caused Khan Academy to take out loans and cut some of their expenses.
Competitors and Alternatives
With the abundance of eLearning platforms and startups, Khan Academy is not the only one of its kind. There are several organizations offering the same type of service, but with a different spin. edX, Udacity, Udemy, and Coursera are some of the leading platforms.
With the financial edge that these companies have, it is likely that they could outperform Khan Academy in providing quality material and live instruction.
Significance of Khan Academy’s Existence
Despite the chaotic weeks that followed in the wake of the pandemic, Khan Academy remains a significant part of the education sector. Despite competition, Khan Academy stands out in terms of affordability, convenience and comprehensiveness. The unique digital platform, unlike any of its competitors, makes Khan Academy an invaluable resource in providing quality education to anyone, anywhere.
The coronavirus continues to disrupt the educational model in countries around the world. Despite this disruption, Khan Academy remains a valuable resource, providing quality instruction and being available to anyone with access to the internet.
However, the platform is facing challenges to keep up with the accelerated pace of the digital revolution. Khan Academy needs to find ways to adapt, or implement new strategies, in order to remain competitive. However, despite its financial struggles, it is clear that the significance of Khan Academy’s existence is vital for quality education for all.