The Khan Academy goes mobile with new iPad app

by Lisa Caplan

The Kahn Academy launched an iPad app last week. The not-for-profit YouTube educational video site, which offers brief tutorials by math genius and former hedge fund manager Salman Khan is already one of the best and most lauded academic websites. Now you can access everything you love about this sensational educator and his site from your Apple tablet. The app is as simple and elegant as Khan’s lessons.

If you’ve missed all the press coverage, Kahn has made hundreds of lessons in math, science, finance and even a little history available to students, in and out of school, via a dedicated YouTube channel and website. He prepares short tutorials that break down a subject into its core concepts and presents then with nothing more than a black background, colorful stylus input and his voice. The resulting lessons allow students to  focus on areas of difficulty or interest with minimal distraction and the ability to rewind, pause and replay.

Until now the lessons were available only to those with an Internet connection and a computer. Now it’s all on a mobile platform with the ability to download and store lessons for offline use.

The app’s interface is clean. Lessons are organized into subjects on a left sidebar while videos play on the right. Most tutorials come with a written transcript and they can be played in full screen too. Lessons can be shared via Facebook and Twitter, or downloaded for offline use later. If you have an account, you can log-in right from the app.

I ran into a few minor hiccups in this first release. The transcription is riddled with misspellings and typos and I experienced infrequent crashing. Also, the Art History category is empty, even though Khan has the videos on his SmartHistory page.

What makes the iPad experience so appealing is the lack of clutter. There are no ads on the videos and no long lesson lists so navigating to what you want to study is easy. There’s just nothing not to love here. Khan has already changed the way scores of students study, and also how we all view the future democratization of education. The app goes one step further by putting all this knowledge on the hottest educational technology platform. Kudos.