Khan Academy is a online learning platform based in Silicon Valley. Its mission statement is to provide a free world class education for anyone anywhere. It started out with Salman Khan making maths videos for his cousin, but has expanded to have thousands of videos and exercises covered a whole range of topics.
I worked as a freelance content creator for Khan Academy from April 2014 to November 2017. I still work for Khan Academy indirectly, building the content for their partnership with Pixar.
Becoming a freelancer
After spending a lot of time on the Khan Academy website, answering students' questions, winning a couple of coding competitions, and building an app that used its API to track how close students were to achieving various badges, I was invited to their offices in Palo Alto. At the time I was working as a molecular and cell biologist in a marine biology lab, but my contract was only a few months from ending. When Khan Academy offered me the chance to become a freelance content creator I decided to leave the world of science and give it a go.
Initially I worked on building maths exercises on Khan Academy: creating code to randomly generate questions, answers and hints. I was particularly involved in building a system to represent rational expressions, so the correct steps for simplifying rational expressions could be generated. I was in charge of maintaining the maths exercises for a year or so before, they replaced the whole system with static questions written by teachers.
One of my favourite exercises was a series of questions on compass constructions. Students were given the ability to add straight lines and circles to a diagram and asked to create various construct: parallel lines, bisectors, inscribed shapes etc..
For this I was working with a pre-existing library for generating interactive elements, which inspired to me to later make my own.
Later I worked on building interactive explorations for Brit Cruise's lessons on magnetism and electricity. These were lessons done through videos with no words, showing how someone might rediscover magnetism and build a simple battery.
Before I was offered the job as content creator I created several programs in the Khan Academy computer science environment to help illustrate concepts from Khan Academy videos. These include:
- A simulation of the Monty Hall problem
- A game exploring conditional probability
- A 3D graph for a solids of rotation calculus question
- A simulation of depolarisation waves in heart cells
- A interactive program exploring various properties of triangles
- A interactive version of president Garfield's proof of the Pythagorean theorem
Later I worked on building all the interactive elements for the Khan Academy's partnership NASA. When the partnership with Pixar: Pixar in a Box, was launched, I was in charge of creating all the interactive content and most of the exercises. I have now moved to being on the Pixar side of the partnership.