Learn Computer Science with Khan Academy

The young man had finished his arduous training period of ten years. The grizzled old man next to him, his tutor, had devoted himself to teaching his pupil the arcane art, an art known only to a select few. Ten years of intense physical labor, deep within the mysterious dungeons and high atop the silver mountains, had finally prepared the battle-scarred young man. He was prepared to unleash his mastery of the dangerous art few knew even existed.

Computer science.

The Khan Academy tree logoFortunately, Khan Academy – the eternally-useful classroom of the future – is making it easy for anyone to learn computer science. Computer science is one of the fastest-growing fields, not to mention that creating stuff with computer science is a lot of fun. So no matter who you are, it’s definitely worth picking up a bit of computer science. And Khan Academy helps you do that and learn what you need to build apps, websites, whatever.

Want to learn some computer science? You can get started with Khan Academy. Below I’ll tell you a bit about what Khan Academy does for you to make it super-simple to learn computer science.

The realm of Master Khan

A sample video on Calculus from Khan Academy
One of Khan Academy’s famous educational videos.

What’s great about Khan Academy is that it’s not on top of a mountain or deep within a cave – it’s a freely-accessible website that lets you learn anything from simple addition (seriously) to physics, calculus, and economics. It’s famous for its simple but powerful educational videos (it’s Mr. Khan voicing over drawings on a “blackboard”) and exercises to back up what you’ve learned. This combination is extremely effective.

KA’s latest (and fastest-growing) department is computer science. This bodes well for young grasshoppers wishing to learn computer science.

Learn computer science with interactive videos

When you start off with computer science, you probably know absolutely nothing about it. Khan Academy, unlike all the other computer science tutorials out there, doesn’t assume you’re magically an expert and starts you off with the basics. From there, you learn how to write computer code (JavaScript), how to draw, how to animate, and finally how to make a fully-functional computer program.

What’s neat is that KA doesn’t just lecture. Each video comes with a program and the code (computer instructions) that runs it. You can fiddle with the code to see what it does to the actual program. Take a gander:

Khan Academy computer science tutorial and program.
This comes with a video teaching the basics of computer science. You can actually change the code to see what impact it has on the program.

Later videos use a program like this and show the narrator changing the code as they go along. You can even pause the video in the middle, change the code, and let the narrator continue.

Making a program with Khan Academy

What’s even better about Khan Academy’s computer science tutorials is that you can create your own programs to practice what you’ve learned from videos or just to mess around with stuff. Whenever you create a program, KA gives you a list and explanation of all the commands (“functions”) you can use, so you can be as inventive as you please.

For inspiration (and good code to copy into your own program), you can fiddle around with pre-made programs (games, animations, pretty much anything) by the community. You can change a premade program around and make it your own, if you like.

A sample game on Khan Academy's computer science department.
This is a sample program (and rather fun game) on Khan Academy. You can read the code to learn some practical tips, copy the code to your own program, or even change this game to make it your own!

Now keep going!

You can make some really advanced computer programs (as you can see from the game above) and learn a good amount of coding from Khan Academy, but eventually you’ll want to move on to bigger and better things. Where can you go after learning and plying your craft in Khan Academy?

Well, for one, you can publish your creations on Khan Academy’s site to gain some notoriety. Then you can create games to publish on a website and share with the entire world.

From there, you can use your knowledge to create apps for phones, tablets, computers, the web, and so on. Even though the language (computer science “speaks” several languages, much like us) may differ, the skills you pick up at Khan Academy can translate to any computer science endeavor, from games to enterprise management software.

The possibilities with today’s internet are almost endless; you just need a bit of computer science knowledge – which Khan Academy does a great job of providing.

A real-world example of Khan Academy in action

I lead the tech division of my high school’s Electric Car Club, which (as the name implies) maintains a fully-electric, full-sized electric car. We’ve recently purchased a box truck which we’re converting to run on biodiesel. When we visit schools, conventions, and businesses to raise awareness about alternative energy, this truck will serve as an interactive educational space. My team is creating environmentally-themed games for the visitors to play on a computer we’re putting the back of the truck. Most of my team doesn’t know how to create programs – yet. Guess how they’re learning to create these games? Khan Academy.

And I suspect thousands of people the world over are using Khan Academy to learn computer science for, well, anything they can think of. It’s amazing what you can do with the internet these days.

Published by

Neel Mehta

Harvard College. Web developer. Sometime philosopher. Baseball junkie.

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