It's getting easier to open a really cool school. A new wave of tiny schools are creating options for students, parents, and educators.
Micro-schools vary in size, approach, and governance. Private micro-schools like
help students shape a personalized path.
Austin-based Acton is being replicated by a number of edupreneurs including networks like
is another Acton Academy partner committed to student-driven education. The learn-by-doing school will open next month with grades 2-6. Their
has some useful resources. Two dozen Acton Academies will be open worldwide next month. (Learn more about
is an innovative Houston middle school flex program with six museum partnerships. Piloted as a private tuition-free school, A+ UP was approved as a public charter school network. Three small campuses will serve 180 students starting August 2016.
In May, AltSchool raised
to accelerate their growth (Learn Capital, where I'm a partner, is an investor).
Other Bay Area folks are joining the micro-school movement. Sal Khan started a small private school for his kids and few others (bet they use
pioneer Mark Kushner launched
and will open a K-8 school next month in the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco.
Five categories of tools make it easier to create new schools or themed academies.
- Platforms: learning platforms continue to improve the ability to personalize learning ( see reviews of leading platforms).
- Open resources: there is a long list of great open education resources (OER) that make it easy to learn a school and at home.
- Maker: cool new maker resources including LittleBits, Modular Robotics, blink blink, Other Machine, Hummingbird Robotics kits, MaKey MaKey, and MakeDo. There also tons of coding resources.
- Projects: there are lots of cool project resources including Buck Institute,Literacy Design Collaborative, and Big History Project.
- Competency: achievement recognition systems (like the badge system IMS is working on) and mastery tracking are boosting student agency and guiding personalized learning.
Former foundation exec Marina Walne launched Houston-based EduStart to support entrepreneurs. Her prototype
includes academic resources on
platform. It will be piloted in small private school in Galveston. Walne will be adding resources aligned with social-emotional learning standards promoted by
. The next full version of Schoolinakit ready by spring 2016 including nuts and bolts of getting a new micro blended learning school up and running.
is micro kit for Catholic schools. The Atlanta-based startup empowers the creation and operation of 40-160 student schools with an annual cost of $3,750 per student.
Micro-schools are a great strategy to transform big public schools using a school-within-a-school strategy.
, a Milwaukee-area district launched four small schools that rewarded teacher leadership and are expanding student and teacher options. These personalized flex academies can open fast, model personalized learning, and allow early adopters to move quickly.
For an innovative new option or the beginning of a big school transformation, micro-schools are a fast low risk option.
For more see:
Disclosure: Tom Vander Ark is CEO of Getting Smart and a partner at Learn Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in educational technology.
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