Microsoft and Khan Academy Make Waves in Education with Free Khanmigo AI Assistant

  • Editor
  • May 22, 2024

Khan Academy and Microsoft have announced a partnership aimed at expanding access to AI tools that personalize teaching and enhance learning experiences. This initiative unveiled at the Microsoft Build conference, will provide all K-12 educators in the U.S. with free access to Khan Academy’s AI-powered assistant, Khanmigo for Teachers.

Khanmigo for Teachers, an AI teaching assistant developed by Khan Academy, has been designed to alleviate the administrative burdens on teachers and introduce creative, engaging lesson plans.

Hobart High School chemistry teacher Melissa Higgason is one of the educators benefiting from this technology. Using Khanmigo, Higgason replaced traditional tools like pressure gauges with everyday items such as mini marshmallows and plastic water bottles to make abstract concepts like Boyle’s Law more tangible for her students.

Higgason explained that she uses Khanmigo to spice up her classroom and make it fun and engaging. The AI assistant provides innovative lesson plans and helps generate custom educational materials, organize student groupings, and adjust text difficulty based on student needs, saving teachers up to five hours per week.

The partnership involves Microsoft donating access to its Azure AI-optimized infrastructure to Khan Academy, allowing the nonprofit to scale these Artificial Intelligence tools across the U.S. education system.

Previously, teachers paid a monthly fee for access to Khanmigo, but this collaboration eliminates those costs, making the tools accessible to all educators for free.

Additionally, Khan Academy and Microsoft are working on developing small language models (SLMs) like Microsoft’s Phi-3 to improve AI-driven math tutoring. These SLMs, being more cost-effective and easier to deploy than larger models, are expected to enhance personalized learning while being affordable and scalable.

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Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, highlighted the potential of AI to make teaching more sustainable and to address challenges such as teacher burnout and low pay, which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated.

“This is something that hopefully a teacher, within hours of using it, is already starting to see a huge ROI,” says Khan Academy founder and CEO Sal Khan.

He mentioned that using AI for education isn’t just a powerful way to help accelerate student learning potentially but also a way to make teaching more sustainable.

The AI tools are designed to emulate the personalized attention of a great tutor, offering nuanced support to students without giving away answers. This approach not only helps students understand complex subjects but also supports teachers in managing their workloads more efficiently.

“We are hoping that 10 to 20 hours can look a lot more like one to five hours,” says Khan.

Khan Academy has roughly 170 million registered users in over 50 languages worldwide. Its interactive exercise platform caught the attention of Microsoft-funded AI company OpenAI’s top executives, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, who saw it as an ideal partner to pilot GPT with socially positive use cases.

Initially skeptical about working with OpenAI and GPT, Sal Khan became convinced of AI’s potential to advance education. Despite concerns about AI-related issues such as cheating, Khan sees AI as a way to scale the personalized tutoring approach that inspired the founding of Khan Academy.

At a recent virtual event with CNBC’s Technology Executive Council, Khan demonstrated Khanmigo and discussed its potential to emulate a great tutor. Microsoft and Khan Academy also plan to provide more AI-powered math tutoring to students through a new Open-Source small language model from Microsoft’s Phi-3 AI technology. These models focus on smaller data sets and can provide specific grade-level guidance and customized tutoring sessions.

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Khanmigo was piloted with several hundred students and teachers a year ago and is now in use by around 65,000 students and teachers, with school districts paying approximately $35 per student per year.

However, the partnership with Microsoft aims to reduce these costs. Khan hopes that technological advancements will lower the costs to $10-$20 per student per year.

The relationship between the tech giant and the educational nonprofit will also integrate more Khan Academy content into Microsoft’s Copilot AI and Teams for Education, enhancing the resources available to both students and teachers. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, recently recommended Sal Khan’s new book on AI in education, highlighting the importance of this collaboration.

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This partnership marks a big step towards leveraging AI to transform education, providing teachers with valuable tools to enhance their teaching and offering students more personalized and engaging learning experiences.

For more news and insights, visit AI News on our website.

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Dave Andre


Digital marketing enthusiast by day, nature wanderer by dusk. Dave Andre blends two decades of AI and SaaS expertise into impactful strategies for SMEs. His weekends? Lost in books on tech trends and rejuvenating on scenic trails.

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