This semester I am teaching a basic geometry course for design students (interior and industrial), which I am making strongly project-based since I believe they need to learn how to use geometry "in the field" rather than do too many constructions and proofs on paper.

As a result, it doesn't seem appropriate to feature traditional exams heavily, but at the same time I do want to ensure that people become proficient at basic algebra and geometry, so I need something to fill the role of exams. I was thinking about using Khan Academy badges, but when I go in there to take a look, it appears impossibly broad and complicated to use, and I can't figure out whether there is some streamlined way to have someone earn a badge in, say, lines and slopes without wading through an infinity of questions about subtracting two decimal numbers, scrolling through knowledge maps, etc etc.

I'm a bit lost! I still like the concept of badges. I'm not sure if I am missing something, or if Khan Academy just is (what seems to me in light of my intended use) cumbersome by nature and perhaps not best suited to my purpose. Has anyone used Khan or similar for the purpose I have in mind? What was your experience?

Thank you, and happy new year!

EDIT: I realized I should have clarified that these are undergraduate interior and industrial design majors at a polytechnic institute.


I have used Khan Academy and believe it can work for you. If you do use Khan Academy here are some tips.

You don't want the students to earn badges, you want the students to master specific skills. Mastering skills, means practicing the skill several times (and getting 5 correct) and then doing a mastery challenge to

Become the students' coach. That way you can assign specific skills to the students.

You should master the skills you want the students to work on, so that you can see what Khan Academy expects of the skills and you can anticipate and understand their questions.

If a student needs to go back and work on an old skill, it will become clear; it doesn't have to be complicated.

As a coach you can monitor your students - I have told students that they have to work on Khan Academy for 15 minutes and then checked that they did so. It will show you the mistakes your students made etc.

I encourage you to try it. If you do have questions you can of course ask them here, but there are also places to ask them on Khan Academy.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! This is really helpful! Since you open the door to followup questions, here are my two biggest ones - one practical and one ideological: Did you find the process of assigning skills and ha $\endgroup$ – Idempotent Jan 3 '16 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ having students complete badges to be a streamlined, self-sustaining process - e.g. does Khan Academy keep track of skills students have attained, so that you can let them work through the badges on their own schedule? (2) Do you think students learned as well as they would with exams? (i.e. do you think it has successfully prevented breezing through and answering questions without deep knowledge?) Thanks for your insights! $\endgroup$ – Idempotent Jan 3 '16 at 13:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 1) Khan academy keeps track of everything the students do and if you are the student's coach, you can see what's happening and at what pace. You can check if they are really working and assign the next thing. 2) My students were gifted and may not represent typical students. I believe if you assign videos and work, they will learn as well as the classroom. In other words, it may depend on the student. It may be worth supplementing in the classroom to get deeper knowledge $\endgroup$ – Amy B Jan 3 '16 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you!! Very helpful, and much appreciated. $\endgroup$ – Idempotent Jan 3 '16 at 15:51

ixl.com would be a good try since it is very skills specific. Students can earn badge for certain skills. It is not free though. For individual plan it is around \$80 per student. Add \$40 it would include language. I don't about plan for school.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! That's good to know about! Ideally of course I'd like something free, but a school plan could be something good to look into! $\endgroup$ – Idempotent Jan 2 '16 at 23:57

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