PCK and Khan Academy

Following on from my previous two blog posts, there has been a lot of criticism of Khan Academy, one of the foremost arguments the lack of PCK, Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Being an online resource, there is no way that Khan Academy could made pedagogical resource which is altered after experience of teaching content or depending on the audiences interests and previous experiences. I think it would be fair to argue this is difficult of any internet resource available to millions that is not streamed live with an input from learners. Therefore, I think it is difficult to criticize Khan Academy about its lack of PCK when it would be almost impossible to have the reach and availability it has and PCK. 

A great way to combat the lack of PCK, albeit this solution only being available to students who have an individual who is willing to teach the desired content learnt on Khan Academy, is to use Khan Academy videos and quizzes as part of a classroom setting – as one would in a Flip Classroom. See below link for more information.


Teachers in a ‘Flip Classroom’ have the opportunity to use internet resources and apply the PCK in the follow up to ensure misconceptions are not surfacing. Additionally, devising assessment depending on specific outcome of school/ state/country would be important as Khan Academy is based on American standards. In fact a teacher may see the need in his/her classroom to use Khan Academy recourses as a pedagogical choice.



3 thoughts on “PCK and Khan Academy

  1. I think you’re mistaking knowing your students for knowing appropriate methods for teaching a particular subject. PCK is about understanding the ways in which students think and learn about a particular subject, and how that knowledge can be leveraged into more effective teaching. Khan understands math just fine. He does not understand how students think and learn about math, and has shown quite a lot of resistance to doing so. PCK is what separates someone who is good at a thing from being someone who is good at teaching that thing.

    The way to combat the lack of PCK is to teach subject-specific pedagogy to the teacher. I teach physics, and have firsthand knowledge of a steady stream of new ideas about how to better teach and discussion of those ideas, in professional organizations and online. If a teacher is unwilling to learn about how students think and learn (and again, this is something beyond understanding individuals interests and experiences) about a subject, then they should either get a new attitude or a new job. This is why so many teachers who are interested in good PCK are so frustrated by Khan–he has the wrong attitude towards learning about learners, yet his empire keeps growing.

    Khan Academy is a great answer to the question, “how can we deliver lectures more efficiently?” But the question is flawed, because lecture is rarely on solid pedagogical footing. Khan Academy, so far in its current form, is a great answer to the wrong question.

    • In the early childhood context however, PCK is more about the relationship you have with your students than the content – the content is student driven. I just had to write about Khan Academy for university, which yes, is not entirely relevant to my early childhood degree, but it is an essential step in the journey.

  2. Pingback: Thoughts on Khan Academy | Ms Ali's Blog

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