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School's Tech Helps Students Learn Independently by Using Playlists

The Short of It

AltSchool in San Francisco has an innovative approach to learning. Students use in-house technology, which creates a "playlist" of curriculum for each student to access on classroom iPads and Chromebooks and use as a guide through their days.

The Lowdown

AltSchool now has four locations in the Bay Area and is expanding to Brooklyn and Palo Alto. It just announced that it raised $100 million in Series B funding to grow not only the school, but to also share its technology.

With the raised money, the school will allow charter and public schools to become part of its network, opening the technology and teaching practices to them. So it looks like many more kids will be using this techy approach to learning in the near future.

This learning style may have some skeptical—after all, shouldn't kids be learning through interaction and not on tablets and computers? But teacher Christie Seyfert tells Buzzfeed that AltSchool students only spend about 30 percent of their time on devices. Instead, they're working offline on an art project, for example, and then snapping a photo on an iPad to share the work with their teacher.

Oh, and the kids at the school do some pretty awesome offline work too, like building go-karts, writing and discussing poetry, and taking trips to interactive art museums and other community destinations.

"I think of the technology as a shared repository," says Mara Pauker, who's leading the opening of the new AltSchool Brooklyn location, which will charge a whopping $27,500 per year in tuition. "Teachers are doing incredible work for their students, and that's all captured and then shared via the playlist. And you have engineers that are constantly in communication with teachers about the schools they've created."

The Upshot

This is just one of several alternative teaching methods we've heard of recently. Blended learning, where kids also work at their own pace, is also making a splash on the education scene. Huntley High School in Chicago actually saw test scores go up after implementing blended learning into its curriculum.

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