EDIS 7010 Documents.

UDL Critique of Khan Academy


Criteria Unacceptable Needs Improvement Meets Criteria
Technology aligns with UDL guidelines of representation: OVERALL RATING


  • Perception
There is very little opportunity to customize anything other than the user’s avatar. The visuals, sounds and displays are predetermined. Users can go back into their profile and see different metrics of their progress, but they can’t customize it.

Suggested improvements:

–       Allow students to choose which areas they want to learn. Allow them to choose what information is conveyed through audio, visual and what is displayed.

  • Language, expression and symbols
 Here, there is more flexibility. Users can write their own notes with a writing tool, they can watch videos for coaching or clarification and ask for hints. Problems are worked out in multiple ways in the videos, though language alternatives would improve the offerings.
  • Comprehension
 The progression of learning and skills mastery does encourage recognizing patterns and seeing the big picture. Skills are built one upon the other and the skill progression is visually shown in the student’s profile under progress.

Information can be manipulated through the visual movement of items in addition, number lines and other visual representations.

The transfer and generalization is helped through a variety of problems to solve in multiple every day scenarios.

Technology aligns with UDL guidelines of action and expression: OVERALL RATING


  • Physical action
 There isn’t anything inherent in the site that would help with any physical needs other than what would help the learner on any other website – i.e. adaptive mouse, keyboard, or headphones. Nothing on the site seems to make any accommodations for those who need them.

Suggestion for improvement:

There are many ways for students to perform calculations without using a keyboard. Allow for different inputs to enable students who struggle with physical interactions with the mouse or keyboard to better manipulate and control their pacing and answering. Allow students to choose which format for presenting the lesson works best for them – audio only, more written explanation, more visual representation, etc.

  • Expression and communication
 This one is more difficult to evaluate. Yes, the learner can watch and listen to videos with explanations of every type of problem that Khan Academy uses, but there isn’t a way for learners to communicate except through their “coach” or teacher. The site is completely self-guided and while a teacher can use data from her students’ progress to inform instruction, there is no way for a student to communicate or express much of anything here except through completing tasks and passing quizzes.

Students do construct their learning through gradually harder quizzes and through gaining knowledge through the video instruction.

There are lots of opportunities for practice and performance in the quizzes. Students can see their progress through the badges that they earn. There is not much support other than the opportunity to receive hints and to rewatch explanations of the problems or topics.

Suggested solutions:

Allow students to write their own problems and solve them. Offer different problem categories of word problems for customization – Sports questions, money questions, to meet the student’s individual interests.

Also, a means for providing feedback or for notetaking would really help students to monitor their own learning and to feel more engaged as they move through the curriculum.

  • Executive function
Here, the “coach” who is usually the teacher or parent would be able to help a student to set goals, manage information and resources, and monitor progress. I think that this is really a shortcoming of any electronic portal. The human discussion with a student about their goals and their progress is really one that is best handled by an adult teacher. Khan Academy could definitely offer some benchmarks or typical time frames for finishing each goal as well as a means to reflect and evaluate their successes and challenges.

Suggested solutions:

Offer students a tool for assessing their own progress and stamina. Provide students self-evaluation and reflection tools at the end of units to write about or even rate themselves on their progress and their own abilities to meet their goals. Offering students to think about how they performed and how they learned will only make them stronger learners of the website’s design and of their own learning processes.

Website aligns with UDL guidelines of engagement: OVERALL RATING


  • Recruiting interest
Overall, Khan Academy fails in this category. There are some good examples of real world scenarios and some good topics of real world science, literature and other topics, but there is no bridge to authentic application. Students conduct all of their learning within a scoreable framework on the site. There are a lot of topics to learn, but not any choice about the ways to learn. Students are penned into the overall framework and the prewritten questions.

Suggested solutions:

Make the math part of the curriculum more authentic. Maybe students could do calculations that could be designed to help them build a house in the end of their computations. There could be small tasks to do after each math concept in measuring, geometry, budgeting,etc. and after they were finished, they could have put together a whole house, car, etc by utilizing their math skills. There should be some bigger picture and authentic applications throughout the skills acquisition part of the learning.

There are as many distractions and threats possible as on any computer based learning system. The internet can find a way to get a student’s attention on other tabs or via notifications.  Protection of data is run through user names and passwords, which always have some vulnerability.

Suggested solutions:

I don’t have the technical background to know how to fix this, but making sure that students use unique passwords that they change often and maybe not allowing the program to run unless other windows or tabs are closed would be helpful.

  • Sustaining effort and persistence
Though there is the option of working with a coach through Khan academy, there is no mechanism for a coach to foster collaboration or community among users. The coach would have to achieve all of this on their own in a classroom or in communication via email with the students.

The only mastery feedback is really passing the quizzes by getting five correct answers in a row.

Again, the program really relies on the teachers using the data from their classes to facilitate mastery and feedback. The students whose teachers track their progress closely can use the data for groupings and for enrichment or remediation, but the site itself doesn’t address these requirements.

Suggested solutions:

Again, a larger community project would really help students want to keep working so that they could achieve together. They might even develop their own areas of expertise and be assigned to a team that needs their particular skill to achieve a goal. There are so many ways for math to be useful and finding motivating ways for them to want to sharpen their weaker skills and to use their strengths would be much more robust with better feedback and a more collaborative project that allowed them to interact with others.

  • Self-regulation
  Khan Academy offers students the opportunity to try each skill they have to master as many times as they need to and to earn badges and experience points when they do master skills.

The opportunity to try other skills when you’re stuck not understanding another really does encourage resilience.

The immediate feedback that you’ve mastered a skill after five consecutive correct answers instead of having to wait for a quiz or test is very motivating as are the achievement levels that are attained quickly.

Reflection, self-assessment, coping skills and strategies are not developed here.

Suggested solution:

Offering students the opportunity to reflect and to think about their own progress or lack of progress frequently leads to them becoming better learners. They are better able to know their strengths and weaknesses and to learn from their past experiences if they are asked to reflect on what went well and what did not. Khan Academy could easily build a set of skills or learner traits for students to conduct self-evaluations frequently and to see where they are improving – not just in math skills, but in learner skills.


Many of the shortcomings of Khan Academy in the UDL model could be addressed with some features for student self-direction, reflection and self-assessment. If Khan Academy had better diagnostics that could give feedback on particular weaknesses for students – that would enable them to try different ways to address the areas in which they struggle. For example, if computation was difficult for a student, Khan Academy could let the student know that they would be evaluating them on the application of the distributive property and not necessarily the computation involved, or provide a calculator, or break down the into steps that would enable the student to catch their own mistakes.

The coach feedback is great for the coach, but it isn’t as available or communicated well to the student. The student may have to practice the same skill over and over again without ever knowing that they are missing some key knowledge that would help them make progress. Students can simply practice or move from quiz to quiz without knowing where they are having trouble. A better check for understanding would help with this in several categories.

I use Khan Academy and I have used it with my sons. It’s a great site with some great content, but it does not meet the UDL requirements.


UDL Tutorial:

UDL Tutorial For EDIS 7010


Technology Proficiency 1

I have updated the site using the WordPress Plugin – Galleries and Slideshows. I can’t believe I had never tried this before as it was very simple to use and I think it adds a lot of interest and visual information.

On the About Me Page of the blog About Me I have added a photo mosaic with images chosen to reflect the description of me in the text. The butterfly, books and pictures of me as a teen and now are good identifying images to let the reader know what I look like and what I am interested in before even reading the description. Therefore, if a student or a teacher wanted to know a little about me, they would even before they read the entry. In the library, I could easily see using this technology to ask students to introduce their interests through a few chosen images before asking them to write something. They also could use it in a library setting to display research that they’d collected on a particular subject. The use of the different layouts offered would lend themselves to some good thinking about what is the most important fact or what is their favorite part if they used the circle template like I did. The one larger image and three smaller images could be used for “main idea” lessons or for “most important” attribute in any subject from fictional stories to science to even math concepts.  So, while the technology is easy to use, the thought process that accompanies it would be rigorous and with an accompanying written rationale, could encourage analysis of any topic.

In my new blog post, Starting the School Year As a Lively Librarian, I used a photo slide show to add some visual interest and reference for readers.  The post itself is a reflection on the first week of school and the images helped me to remember the events that I wanted to document and think about. A photo slide show would be a great and easy way to encourage students to do their own reflection on a project or any school activity. They could generate their own slides and again pick from images they took to decide what belonged in the slide show or not. The slide show could allow them to do their own reflection on their learning and encourage that important thinking about what they learned and how they can show their learning.  Images could be created through photographs taken by a whole class or an individual student.




Resource Collection Part 1: Fill out the table:

Christine Lively EDIS 7010


Category Technology Price / Pricing schedule (Ease of Use) (Ability to share information with students) (Dynamic presentation)
E-learning tools Google Classroom Free All students

Use google, so it should be easy to get to from their student portal

Students will receive updates through their gmail accounts. Any type of media can be attached or posted.
Video Production YouTube Free Our school system uses it all the time and I know how to use it. Videos can be uploaded to student sites for assessment and I can upload videos to share out easily. Videos are fantastically dynamic and can include a lot of interesting content from music to graphics.
Sound Production Online Voice Recorder Free (part of Chrome) This app is part of the Google suite and has easy button editing and recording to help students and me to record and edit sound. As this is part of chrome and google, it should be easily shared through google. The app doesn’t offer dynamic capabilities other than the sound recording option.
Web publishing/blogging WordPress Free – unless you want your own domain name. The site and the suite of add-ons and apps are very easy to use. The site may be outside of the Chrome and Google classroom bubble and therefore forbidden for students to access.


You can include and post nearly anything on a wordpress site. All types of media are enabled.
Asynchronous discussion Blackboard Free All students in my district are accustomed to using this technology. The site is ubiquitous for all students and staff. There is some opportunity for posting dynamic content, but there are some heavy restrictions imposed by the school system.
Social Networking Twitter Free Students can access twitter, though parental consent may be an issue. The site is being used by more and more school board members and school staff members at all levels. The 140 character restriction prevents lengthy posting, but gifs, video, sound, and images can be posted.
Animation ABCYa $6.99/month for families

$39.99/month for a classroom

The program is very easy to use with kid friendly tools that mimic classroom art and drawing supplies. The site would have to be approved through the school and perhaps the school board.

The website is outside of the school’s usual tools, so students would have to remember to click through to the site to use it.

 The animation possibilities are fantastic and students could make great use of the dynamic possibilities for drawing and incorporating sound, text and video from outside sources
Online e-book creator Blurb Free for software. There is a $9.99 conversion fee for ebooks As a part of chrome, all students would have access and the process is simply laid out and explained. Parents would likely have to pay for book production, but there is a lot of possibility for students individually or as a class to create their own books. When ebooks are viewed on tablet devices, the dictionary, table of contents and other dynamic functions are enabled.
Classroom Technologies Smartboard Free The smartboard is very easy to use as long as it is connected properly. Students use the smartboard all the time, but they would only be able to access content for the smartboard during class time with a teacher, so that is restrictive. The smartboard is incredibly dynamic and can incorporate video, sound, images and even student movement and manipulation to increase engagement.


Christine Lively

Technology Mini-Proposal

EDIS 7010

  1. Very short description of the technology
  • WordPress Plugins – Galleries and Slideshows

This plugin allows users to create and insert galleries, mosaics and slideshows of photos into the site.

  1. Explain why you want to learn the technology and how it fits in your classroom/context/library
  • I want to learn the technology to make my site more visually engaging and appealing. Right now there is very little image content, and I think that adding it would make the site more appealing.
  1. Explain how you will demonstrate your proficiency in the technology.
  • I will show my proficiency by creating one mosaic and one slide show to promote the library collection and to introduce myself to the school.


  1. Very short description of the technology
  • Twitter is a great social networking site and service that is becoming essential to sharing ideas and resources for education.
  1. Explain why you want to learn the technology and how it fits in your classroom/context/library
  • I want to learn to use the technology better to connect with other teachers, administrators and even students within my school district and outside of it. I want to use it to promote the value of the Groveton Elementary School Library and to encourage faculty and students to make full use of the library.
  1. Explain how you will demonstrate your proficiency in the technology. For example, if you wanted to learn how to use Quicktime to make screen-capture movies, then you could propose that you will make 2 movies using Quicktime for topics that are coming up in your class next week.
  • I will post one tweet every day and more if possible to promote the library and the activities there. I will also be sure to include photos of the library and respond to other librarians’ ideas as well as to any education ideas and tweets that I find interesting or useful.



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