Khaaaaannn!!!

Okay, so yeah…. That title is a super-geeky Star Trek reference.  #sorrynotsorry  But it’s a bit of a bait-and-switch, because the subject of tonight’s blog post is not actually this guy:

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Or even this guy:

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(Although in any other context, you can talk about Benedict Cumberbatch with me any time.)

But right now, the Khan we’re talking about is this guy:

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This is Sal Khan.  (Not to be confused with Salman Khan, who is apparently some hot-shot Bollywood A-lister.  It’s amazing the things you can learn from a simple Google image search.)  Or, more to the point, we’re here to discuss his fucking amazing website.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me start over:

So as we all know by now, Billie has mad math problems.  At the beginning of this month I bought into that Learning Upgrade software that I discovered, and paid $50 for the first Algebra module.  I finished it up on Friday night, but hesitated to buy the next one.  While I was learning some stuff, I found myself questioning if I was really getting enough out of it.  I also didn’t like that it was nearly all solving stuff on the screen, rather than having to actually work out equations and problems on paper.  So I got the bright idea to google some practice Accuplacer placement tests for the Elementary Algebra section (the part I’m trying to prepare for).

I took a couple, and the results were extremely disheartening.  However, while getting my google on, I turned up a link for Khan Academy.

Khaaaaannn!!!

I very vaguely remembered seeing a blip about this website on some show at some point, I recalled something about it being an education or tutoring website or something.  So what the hell, I clicked.

Ya’ll.  Oh my god.  This website is AMAZING.  I dove into the Algebra I section yesterday, and I’ve already powered through 4/17 units.  It’s infinitely more comprehensive than the other software I was using.  Each lesson I feel like I’m in an actual class, but one than I can pause and back-up when needed.  I’ve gone through about 10 pages of scratch paper over the last two days.  I feel like I’m actually learning and retaining.  Some sections I struggle with more than others, but that’s to be expected.  (No seriously bro, fuck inequalities.)

However, because this content is so much better, it’s also going to take a lot more hours for me to complete.  But that’s okay, I’ve got nothing but time.  Well, sorta.  I still want to be ready to re-take the placement test by mid-July at the latest, preferably sooner.  But I think with Khan Academy, I’ll hopefully be much more prepared.  Fingers crossed!

So far, it’s been a really enjoyable experience overall.  The website itself has a fantastic user interface, and I know it’s silly but I love that you win little badges and awards along the way for completing tasks.  I find it very encouraging, especially when I accumulate enough points to unlock an new cute little avatar!

Most importantly, the videos in each lesson are surprisingly engaging, which is saying a whole lot given how dry the material inherently is.  But Sal does a fantastic job explaining, narrating, and writing things out in ways that make sense (most of the time, anyhow… my fault, not his).  And some of the lessons are actually pretty hilarious.  I mean, really… Where else can you learn to algebra by solving for the number of Chuck Norrises (or Chuck Norrii, if you prefer)?

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Oh, and did I mention that it’s all completely 100% FREE?  Yeah, you read that right.  Sal’s mission is “to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.”  Anybody with a computer or mobile device can utilize this service, so there’s no excuse not to go get yo’ learn on!

I’m also super impressed by the amount of subjects offered.  Once I get through this Algebra I/II nightmare, my next goal is to find some quality study materials for the English Composition CLEP exam, which sadly Khan Academy doesn’t offer.  However, once I check that off my bucket-list I’m very seriously considering coming back to Khan to do the courses on Microeconomics and Biology and then attempt the CLEP exam in each of those.

Because seriously, the fewer college classes I have to take (and pay for) on my way to a degree, the better.

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