Zuckerberg-Backed AltSchool Will Expand to Manhattan in 2016
Just months after Mark Zuckerberg became one of its largest investors, AltSchool is planning to open a school in Manhattan in 2016.
The expansion set for 2016 will bring AltSchool, a chain of single-room schoolhouses founded by a former Googler, to six locations across California and New York. According to AltSchool, the company received 3,500 applications for 200 student spots this year; the expansion is a way of increasing capacity to meet the demand.
As it grows, AltSchool is also rolling out new tech tools for students to help teachers personalize lessons in the classroom. One new tool called Tetrapod will help teachers collaborate, while the other, Progression, tracks each student’s mastery of a given subject. As Max Ventilla, AltSchool’s founder, told me when I visited the school earlier this year, the ultimate goal is to perfect these tools within the company’s own schools, then license them to public schools that lack the resources to build the tools themselves.
It’s a concept that Zuckerberg, for one, seems to find appealing. Not only has he invested substantially in AltSchool, but earlier this month, Facebook announced a partnership with Summit Public Schools. Through this partnership, Facebook is helping Summit design a so-called Personalized Learning Plan tool, or PLP, for schools. The tool acts as a sort of daily calendar of assignments for students; it’s similar to the tool AltSchool has built for its own students.
In a blog post announcing the Summit partnership, Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox wrote, “We’ll use feedback from this program to improve the PLP so we can eventually offer it, for free, to any school in the US that wants it.”
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