The nonprofit Khan Academy released a free app today that it says contains thousands of original activities, books, videos and lessons for children ages 2 to 5.
Called Khan Academy Kids, the educational app is “a complete learning experience across multiple subjects” that is designed to adapt over the years as a child grows, according to a statement released by the organization—and parent participation is a “key component” of the experience.
Khan Academy Kids’ materials are aligned with both the Common Core State Standards for kindergarten-aged children and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework for preschool-aged children, according to the organization. They also incorporate social-emotional learning, the statement said.
Subjects like math and reading are incorporated with activities like drawing and storytelling. Animated characters guide children through educational materials at their level, and children are rewarded for their learning accomplishments with virtual bugs, hats and toys for their favorite characters.
“When Khan Academy acquired Duck Duck Moose, it was clear they had big ambitions,” said Chip Donohue, the dean of distance learning and continuing education and director of the Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, in an emailed response to the news. Duck Duck Moose, a developer of educational apps for preschool children, became a subsidiary of Khan Academy nearly two years ago and its 21 early learning apps were given to the organization at that time. That collection was “a wonderful suite of apps that were developmentally informed and appropriate for young children,” said Donohue.
Caroline Hu Flexer, the CEO and co-founder of Duck Duck Moose, is now the head of Khan Academy for Kids. She is quoted in the announcement as saying that her team worked with educators from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and book authors, to “create a curriculum and library of original books that teach key academic skills as well as social-emotional development and healthy habits.”
Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, said in the announcement that the goal of Khan Academy Kids is to “inspire a life-long love of learning,” with an app that “engages children academically and that’s also a lot of fun.” Parents can participate in learning activities as their child is using the app, and read books out loud. They can also see their child’s progress on activities and set up multiple accounts if they have more than one child.
Khan Academy Kids does not have any advertisements or in-app purchases, the organization said in an emailed response to questions about how data generated by the app would be used and safeguarded.
“We do not use a child’s information for marketing or advertising purposes,” it said. The child’s age and first name are collected with the parent’s email address. Primarily, the app’s data will help personalize a child’s experience when using the educational materials, to recommend the most appropriate curriculum at the right level. Information generated will also be utilized to understand and analyze usage trends, learning behaviors, and user preferences, the organization said. That data will inform the development of new features and functionality.
Parents’ personal information may be shared with certain “trusted service providers, which may include hosting and email delivery, only as needed to provide our service,” Khan Academy said.
As for how Khan Academy Kids will be adopted, Donohue said he is curious about “what their goals are for this app/platform in terms of the quality of the content, user experience, a nudge for adults about joint engagement, a dashboard for tracking a child’s activity and progress, and machine learning.”