For a research project I've decided to look at the merits of teaching through video compared to teaching through the medium of a lecture. This lead me to Khan Academy, a website launched in 2006 with the purpose of teaching the masses for free using video.

Whilst I personally love the concept and think its a brilliant idea, I am yet to find ANY evidence on how effective Khan's solution is compared to more traditional teaching.

Maybe I am missing something obvious, but my question is:

  • Is there any evidence supporting Khan's (and others like his) concept?
  • 4
    Sorry for being off-topic, but I can't resist: KHAAAAN!
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 21, 2012 at 10:12
  • 2
    On-topic: Wikipedia has a blurb on this.
    – Oliver_C
    Dec 21, 2012 at 10:23

3 Answers 3


Is there any evidence supporting Khan's (and others like his) concept?

There is at least one study that is supportive of the general concept.

Effectiveness of video as an instructional medium in teaching rural children

However there are almost certainly important differences which may have a bearing, for example the availablity of a teacher, familiar with the material, with whom the student can interactively discuss any parts they do not understand.


(I'm a software engineer at Khan Academy.)

Today, SRI International released a research report on a two-year study of the use of Khan Academy in schools. We're encouraged by the results.

It doesn't cover the use of Khan Academy instead of traditional teaching as your question suggests but instead its use as a supplemental tool. The full report is available on the SRI website; I'll copy here the main bullet points from the research brief:

Student Use and Perceptions

  • Student perceptions of their time spent on Khan Academy was highly positive.
  • Students’ engagement level was generally high during Khan Academy sessions.
  • Students perceived that use of Khan Academy encouraged greater independence in learning.
  • The amount of time students spent working on Khan Academy varied considerably across and within sites, and also by school year.

Teacher Use and Perceptions

  • A majority of teachers were happy with their Khan Academy experience and planned to use the Academy with their students in the upcoming school year.
  • Teacher perception of Khan Academy’s impact on students varied across different learning areas.
  • Teachers reported that integrating Khan Academy into their instruction has increased their capacity to support their students in a number of areas.
  • Teachers who viewed the Khan Academy reports regularly found them useful.

Student Outcomes

  • A positive association was found between more Khan Academy use and more problem sets completed and two outcomes: (1) improvements in student test scores, and (2) improvements in three of the four self-reported nonachievement outcomes – math anxiety, math self-concept, and academic efficacy (i.e., belief in one's ability to succeed in academic endeavors).

The report goes into much more depth on these topics as well as information about what the educators found helpful and challenging about using Khan Academy, and I'd recommend reading it if you're interested in the results.


This video discusses some of the problems with Khan Academy (and similar) videos. It seems that while these videos can definitely be useful, there are some problems with them in certain cases, most notably not paying enough attention and not recognising misconceptions.

  • 2
    +1 answers the question and does so with a reference that uses data from research, in accordance with the policy of this site.
    – AlanSE
    Dec 21, 2012 at 18:44
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    This answer is poor because it just points to a video and doesn't explain anything at all. It's basically unreferenced just like any answer that doesn't look directly at the sources.
    – Sklivvz
    Dec 21, 2012 at 20:01
  • 1
    +1 because I found it very interesting. However still looking for more evidence.
    – doreye01
    Dec 22, 2012 at 8:49
  • @Sklivvz I would argue that it is not a poor answer. It does point to a video, yes, but this video is by a person whose PhD. research (to which there is a link the description of the video, so it is not unreferenced) was about this topic and the video mentions the most important findings of this research in only 8 minutes.
    – Ben
    Dec 22, 2012 at 16:32
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    @ChaosAndOrder our reference requirements are strict, and the fact it comes from a PhD is just an appeal to authority. What is the evidence? The video is not evidence.
    – Sklivvz
    Dec 23, 2012 at 17:40

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