AltSchools: Inside the School Silicon Valley Thinks Will Save Education

AltSchool (src: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/altschool/ )Wired: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/altschool/

– “Founded in 2013 by former Google head of personalization Max Ventilla”

– “an educational philosophy known as student-centered learning. […] kids should pursue their own interests, at their own pace. […] AltSchool mixes in loads of technology to manage the chaos, and tops it all off with a staff of forward-thinking teachers set free to custom-teach to each student.”

– “Students get their own iPad or Chromebook […] and their own weekly ‘playlists’, queues of individual and group activities tailored to the specific strengths and weaknesses of each kid. […] the intersection of two rapidly growing movements in education […] edtech startups building apps for schools; along […] personalized education.”

– “AltSchools are […] mini-research and development labs, where both teachers and engineers are diligently developing the formula for a 21st century […]《not only to other AltSchools, but to private, public, and charter schools across the country.”

– “Schools aren’t good at making changes or measuring the effects of those changes […] They’re not good at correcting when those changes are not positive, and they’re not good at propagating those changes that are good so you get the maximum benefit. […] Silicon Valley startups, on the other hand, tend to elevate those practices to an art form. […] he would build a huge network of tiny schools that all plug into a central hub.”

– “Ventilla likes to call AltSchool’s approach to teaching ‘Montessori 2.0’ […] if […] Maria Montessori were alive today, she too, might have proposed using tech tools to manage the mayhem of a personalized classroom.”

– “Students log onto the My.AltSchool website, open their playlists, and see an array of 20 to 25 activity cards that teachers have hand-selected for them […] Some of that work happens online, some of it doesn’t, but all of it gets stored and tracked on the app to inform teachers’ decisions down the line. Teachers can make these cards on their own, or search the My.Altschool library to find cards that other teachers have made. […] building these cards from scratch is extraordinarily time-consuming, ”

– “when something’s not working well enough or fast enough for teachers at AltSchool, a 39-person product team is waiting in the wings to not just fix it but to build a product around it to ensure it never happens again. […] Everyone at the company is there to support teachers […] But AltSchool teachers do more than point out the squeaky wheels. They also work with the engineering team on entirely new products, ”

– “Ventilla believes that some day, the activity captured on these videos, combined with the data My.Altschool collects on student progress, could eliminate the need for incessant testing”

– “The team is also working on a recommendation engine for teachers”

– “If it takes us two decades to really move the needle on big district public schools in the US, that’s a good outcome. That’s success. It doesn’t have to happen quickly, but it does have to happen at scale.””

– “The biggest failure of technology in schools is people thought there was some inherent value to technology, rather than saying the only value in technology is that it enhances teaching or engages kids”

– “rich and poor school students are more segregated today nationwide than the rest of the U.S. population as a whole. As this gulf grows, so does the difference between the challenges that schools face at either end of the spectrum. […] the Gates Foundation studied the effects of personalized learning practices at 23 public charter schools that consisted of predominantly low-income students. After two years, the study found that students at these schools made greater strides in their standardized scores than students from comparable schools that lacked a personalized learning program.”

– “At his last school, a public school, […] David describes teachers who ran their classrooms like prisons […] Now, David thinks of his teachers ‘like family’.”

Wired: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/altschool/

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