how successful students can be when they learn in small, personalized communities that champion project-based learning, guided by educators who get a say in the technology they use
20 students between the ages of five and 10. He eschewed grade levels and standardized tests in favor of what he called a “micro-school” model with “learner-centered curriculum,” which focused on student “playlists” that tap into individual learning needs.
community of students grouped in pre-K to 1st grade, 2nd to 5th grade, or 6th to 8th grade--becoming both mentees and mentors of their fellow students with each passing year
three to four coveted years with their classroom teachers instead of one
project-based learning and real-world lessons.
Field trips are a weekly occurrence
TECH STACK AND PD: Personalization for both students and teachers goes hand-in-hand
Most classrooms consist of teachers and students. In AltSchool, you may find a third party—engineers.
“Studying teachers, what they need, how it relates to the personalization--that’s the main focus of our engineers and user researchers. We study the hacks and workarounds that teachers use on paper and on a whiteboard, and work that into the platform.”
Personalized Learning Plan, which shows students their assignments for each day and helps teachers keep track of and assess student’s learning.
On my.altschool.com, students log in via their iPads or Chromebooks to see what teachers have assigned them for the day. Teachers will select a “Focus” project or activity-based assignment for the day and send it to students’ playlists, and once it’s completed and submitted by the students, teachers can label it as approved or ask the student to go back and make edits.
To assess project-based learning, submissions typically require some sort of documentation, usually in the form of photos of projects taken by students.
“Alt Video,” that allows teachers to film and later observe student performance
space for teachers to send notes to parents about individual students
a “classroom composition” tool where teachers can observe their student’s performances as a whole
“learning targets” aligned to Common Core, Next Generation Science, and California state standards.
AltSchool will open its platform to other districts and schools as a resource
In addition, some education privacy law scholars say that the direct-to-teacher marketing model circumvents federal privacy laws.
One federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, requires school districts to maintain the confidentiality of student records and to keep control of those records even if administrators outsource certain school functions to vendors.
To help school administrators evaluate digital education services, the Department of Education recently issued best-practice recommendations for contracts. Last year, the Consortium for School Networking, an association for district technology professionals, introduced a free tool kit with data security questions for schools to ask their online service providers. And on Tuesday, a coalition of several dozen educational groups issued a set of principles for responsible use of student data.