Khan Academy: The Illusion of Understanding

Marc Schwartz


This paper examines the ongoing challenge of defining what learning means from the perspective of the cognitive and learning sciences especially as it unfolds in on-line environments. To better define learning as well as offer guiding principles, the paper uses Khan Academy as an example of what some high profile individuals like Bill Gates are claiming to be the future of education. I offer five guiding observations that provide a structure for understanding the learning process and apply them to Khan Academy as a means of revealing what amounts to what I call the illusion of understanding and to replace that view of with a more authentic understanding of the learning process and the means to achieve it.


Khan Academy; cognitive development; hierarchical understanding; practice; feedback; context sensitive; online education

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