Khan Academy Computer Programming

Khan Academy Computer Programming

Khan Academy logo

Most people have heard of Khan Academy. There are tens of millions of users. For years, my kids have used the online lessons as reference and study help for school. The website has free online courses on most any topic, called “subject”. Its home page has an encouraging and confident statement: “You only have to know one thing: You can learn anything. For free. For everyone. Forever.”

Courses are primarily video-based. Here is a 5-minute overview video about how someone can use Khan Academy. The screen shots are outdated, for example in place of a large subject map there is now a crisp menu, but the video still gives a good picture of how it works.

A non-profit supported by donors and volunteers, Kahn Academy also includes learning-management tools for “coaches” who could be teachers, parents, tutors, or peers, in addition to the courses. There is a robust, subject-specific, question and answer system for users to help one another, and an easy-to-navigate and thorough Help Center for “Learners”. A “learner” can view all the course content and complete the online exercises without logging on or creating a profile, but doing so will enable progress and save features.

Khan Academy’s Computer Programming:
The Computer Programming courses operate differently from other subjects’ courses. A statement reads: “Normally, we teach on Khan Academy using videos, but here in programming land, we teach with something we call “talk-throughs”. A talk-through is like a video, but it’s actually interactive- you can pause at any time if you want to play with the code yourself, and you can spin-off if you want to make your own version of what we made.

The courses’ subsections are linked separately in a table of contents format, so you can jump around to what you’d like to know about. Each lesson shows how to use the coding “talk-through” interface, with code on the left and results on the right. A lesson page goes over a concept, then the next section is a Challenge for you to try it. Meanwhile, there are questions from participants below, on the same page, and answers from other participants: community learning! Each lesson page also has links back to the pages of Computer Programming, help, and project evaluation. Here are the Computer Programming FAQs.

As of August, 2015, the Computer Programming components include Intro and Advanced JavaScript (JS), HTML and CSS, and SQL.
*update: as of Sept. 28, 2015, jQuery has been added.

There is also a Computing blog, which posts info on what the course developers have recently added, upcoming additions, and other helpful info.

Any time!

Emilie Peck‘s April 29, 2015 post on her website, Alternative Wiring, describes Khan Academy as a whole, then reviews her experience with its computer programming lessons. She likes the visual representation of the code.

Andrew Jeong‘s Jan. 14, 2015 post on Match Education describes how he’s used Khan Academy’s computer programming for 5th graders. There is a walk-through of how lessons work, and screen shots. The author mentions pros and cons, and he poses the question of whether the students’ use of Tynker before trying the Khan Academy lessons was an important step in their understanding of programming.

Sachin‘s Dec. 2, 2013 post on his website, Learn Programming, is a review for the adult learner perspective. It’s a valuable review that goes into detail about the lesson features, written by a self-taught programmer on his blog that compiles learning resources.

Marcus Christie‘s March 17, 2013 post on his website describes using Khan Academy to teach his pre-teen daughter programming. Among other positive features of the program, he finds a big benefit for kids is the ‘gamification’. He also notes “the video tutorials are narrated by a woman. It might seem like a minor thing but I’ve noticed that my daughter has picked up on the fact that the computer programmer profession is male-dominated, so any reinforcements that, yes, girls program too, is always nice.”

Nadine Champsi‘s May 31, 2013 post on her website, The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog, is a narrative about rekindling a love of learning along with her husband, thanks to the Khan Academy. She is a doctor, now a write-at-home-mom, and intends to learn some computer programming.


A July 27, 2015 article by Kayla Matthews on Emerging Ed Tech is titled “Your Students Should Be Coding (Five Sites to Get Them Started)”. It links to learning programs for teachers to introduce coding in the classroom, describes the benefits of learning to code, and includes Khan Academy, noting its beneficial “direct instructional” regarding the process.

Madeline Stone’s Nov. 4, 2014 article on Business Insider, titled “I Took An Online Coding Class, And Now I Have A Huge Appreciation For What Programmers Do All Day” details her lessons in Khan Academy’s Intro to JS: Drawing and Animation. She includes great screen shots of the lessons and working examples of what she was able to produce, and describes how the difficulty increased. From an adult perspective, she says it was a fun platform to learn programming, even with the cartoon elements geared toward a younger audience.

An August, 2012 post by Gregory Ferenstein on Tech Crunch titled “Khan Academy Launches The Future of Computer Science Education” describes Khan Academy’s (then) new computer science section.

Major Supporters

Khan Academy’s Facebook page reads: “We’re on a mission to provide a free world class education for anyone, anywhere. Join us!”

@KhanAcademy’s Twitter statement reads: “Working to make a free, world-class education available for anyone, anywhere. And having fun while doing it. :)”

The Khan Academy Blog page.

Life at KA, which is a blog of photos depicting the doings of employees of Khan Academy.

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