AltSchool, the tech-savvy alternative to normal schools that is funded by Silicon Valley billionaires, has arrived in New York City.
Backed by Mark Zuckerberg, the Bay Area-based network of “micro-schools” will open doors to a new schoolhouse in Brooklyn Heights, New York, this fall. And that’s just the beginning. Yesterday, AltSchool announced an expansion to Manhattan in 2016.
Founded by Max Ventilla, former head of personalisation at Google, AltSchool transforms the outdated, early-1900s model of elementary education for the Digital Age. Teachers and a team of in-house technologists work together to cater the curriculum to each child’s needs.
Kids take attendance on an iPad, complete a “playlist” of activities, and learn the latest design and 3D-modelling software. A digital “personalised learning plan” allows them move at their own pace.
Earlier this year, Zuckerberg led a $US100 million round of capital, which included existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. The funding enables AltSchool to grow its number of schools, which enrolls just 80 to 150 students each, rather than expanding its class size.
The sixth and latest location is nestled in Brooklyn Heights, a residential hub of brownstones and tree-lined streets in Brooklyn. Pre-kindergarten through fifth grade is offered, and tuition costs $US27,500 a year.
The four-room, 80-student schoolhouse is the first AltSchool outpost, located 3,000 miles from all of the existing schools and headquarters.
“This is a huge test for us,” says Maggie Quale, media relations for AltSchool, “to ensure that our vision, processes, and policies can be replicated to other cities and states nationwide.”
Eventually, AltSchool plans to bundle its tools — the app, the lesson plan creator, and other tech creations — and licence them to the education world at large.
For now, Altschool has no shortage of eager pupils. Wired reported yesterday that the company received 3,500 applications for 200 student spots this year.
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