How Does the Academy Work?
Signup is free and easy. Students can use their Facebook or Google profiles. Within moments, the academy is introducing itself. It leads with its mission statement: “A free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” Even “a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology” can use the resources.
The site prompts students to choose a subject. Math, science, economics, humanities, computing and test preparation are available. The Academy also has content through partners such as the Museum of Modern Art, NASA and the Stanford School of Medicine.
After selecting a subject, students are given a slate of subtopics and video lectures. They can choose whatever they want. After viewing, they can ask questions, read questions and responses from other students or take quizzes. The academy then suggests related content for the next lesson.
The academy keeps track of student progress, keeps statistics and keeps track of goals. Every practice problem ever done is recorded for later review. Teachers, coaches and parents have access to the data also, so students are never alone.
A new addition to the site is a badge system. Students can earn six different types, from easy-to-earn Meteorites for completing basic tasks to elusive Black Holes that require years of dedication. Badges are part of gamification in education. As with playing games, students gain points, jump levels and are rewarded based on statistical progress.