Read It, Watch It, Try It: Silicon Valley Ed

Technology is rapidly changing the world around us--and it's shaping the way we think about and approach education. Nowhere is this more evident than in the new relationships between Silicon Valley startups and schools. Read on to find out more!  

Read It: "The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools"

Many schools have adapted an open-mind when it comes to introducing technology in the classroom. This mindset opens up a world of possibilities for students, with new ways to access and process information. For some schools, this has happened on a much larger scale, thanks to Silicon Valley investors and benefactors. While some consider these districts fortunate recipients, not everyone is enthusiastic about the rapid pace of technology growth in schools, or the influence of these "innovators."

Journalist Natasha Singer explores this unique dynamic, and shares how execs from Facebook, Salesforce, and Netflix have become involved in education in today's New York Times article, "The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools."

"In the space of just a few years, technology giants have begun remaking the very nature of schooling on a vast scale, using some of the same techniques that have made their companies linchpins of the American economy. Through their philanthropy, they are influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose and fundamental approaches to learning."

Watch It: AltSchool in Action

Ex-Google employee Max Ventilla has taken the Silicon Valley edtech one step further--founding his own private school, AltSchool, in 2013. Established in three cities, the schools "range in size from 35 to 120 students, and offer mixed-aged learning environments where technology helps educators create personalized, foundational knowledge and project-based learning experiences focused on developing the whole child." Watch this PBS special to learn more:

Still curious about AltSchool? Check out this video featuring an interview with the school's founder, Max Ventilla.

Try It: SVEF Ed-tech Startup Products

Silicon Valley Education Foundation "was founded on the belief that a new kind of organization is needed – one with a different philosophy and approach to the challenges in legacy systems. A nonprofit resource and advocate for students and educators, SVEF is dedicated to putting all students on track for college and careers, focusing on the critical areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)."

We've collected a number of contenders from SVEF's 2016 iHub Pitch Games, where edtech startups share their products and look for schools to partner up with. For more information on last years Pitch Games, or to see more innovative products, click here.

"Cashtivity is a new way for students to develop the enthusiasm, mindset and skills to succeed in and outside the classroom. Cashtivity offers a collaborative and student-centered approach to learning, where students are in the driver's seat. Math is the best starting point to bring project-based learning to life. It’s the foundation for success as an active, well-rounded participant of the 21st century: it’s essential in business, in work and in life. Working through real world, entrepreneurial scenarios, students create their own personalized learning data that is social, authentic and relevant.  Teachers finally have a convenient and effective tool for bringing real world context to their lessons, helping students reach their learning goals in math."

Green Ninja
"Green Ninja is an educational initiative to inspire interest in the science and solutions associated with our changing climate. Adventures of the Green Ninja – a superhero – are told in a youth-oriented and humorous way, but grounded in science and data. Green Ninja curriculum is used to support teachers in the classroom and promote hands-on learning experiences that are designed to meet the Next Generation Science Standards. Green Ninja media are popular on YouTube, with a current viewership of over 2,000,000."

Sutori is a collaborative platform that allows it's users to create visual stories in an interactive timeline format. Combining text, images, and videos, as well as surveys and discussion modules, Sutori is a unique way to demonstrate and share learning on a specific topic. In addition to using the tool to create assignments, teachers can search existing stories as a jumping off point for learning.

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