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New School Year Brings More Support for AltSchool, the Silicon Valley-Backed Approach to Education

New School Year Brings More Support for AltSchool, the Silicon Valley-Backed Approach to Education

Ever since its opening in 2013, San Francisco-based AltSchool has caught the attention of many in its unique approach to teaching pre-K through grade 8 students. In the short time since its first building opened, it has been able to increase enrollment and open new schools thanks to being thought of as the 21st century answer to education by many Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Called "micro-schools," the schools each enroll anywhere from 80-150 students. This fall, the network opened up seven new locations in the Bay area and even expanded to Brooklyn, N.Y. According to NBC News, for only 200 open spots the network received 3,000 applications.

So what makes an AltSchool classroom so different from a traditional classroom?

For one, there are no "classrooms." Instead, students move from station to station where learning goals are personalized for each individual.

And tech in the classroom takes on a whole new meaning in AltSchool. The network itself has a 50-person product team, most former employees of tech giants like Apple and Google, who specifically design tech tools for learning purposes.

AltSchool also makes teacher reflection a little easier because each station is outfitted with video cameras at eye level so that each educator can review what went right and what needed improvement during lessons.

Certainly, technology and personalized instruction allow for students to feel a connection with what they are learning, as well as allowing for them to spend a lot of time interacting with learning material with many project-based activities.

Also unlike most traditional schools, AltSchool comes with a hefty tuition fee. Enrollment will cost parents $20,000 a year, but financial assistance is readily available as NBC News reported that 40 percent of all AltSchool students receive some. 

AltSchool has doubled its network this fall and has similar intentions for next school year, continuing to look towards expanding its network wherever possible. The $100 million raised by venture funding made possible by Zuckerburg and many other big names in the industry certainly helped.

"'We could have thousands of Altschools in cities and countries where there's sufficient demand,' said [founder and CEO Max] Ventilla. He hopes a network of AltShools will evolve and 'strike at that central problem, which is that schools themselves need to be up to date if they are going to prepare Americans for a future that is changing at an accelerating rate,"" said NBC News.

Read more about AltSchool here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

09/14/2015

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