This week, children across the country went back to school, and many are going into pilot programs started, sponsored or aided by Silicon Valley.
The goal is to better equip the next generation with the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills needed for the high tech jobs of the future.
Examples: Apple is handing out iPads and Macbooks as part of the White House ConnectEd initiative; IBM is pioneering a STEM school model called P-Tech, which it, Microsoft, SAP and others are implementing in public high schools; and last week Facebook said it would expand its partnership with Summit Public Schools, which runs K-12 schools in California and Washington state.
But one significant initiative stands out by being, among other things, a for-profit start-up. Altschool is backed by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, as well as VC firms Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund. (John Doerr and Pierre Omidyar have also invested.)
The start-up provides pre-kindergarten through 8th grade education in small schools it calls micro-schools. When a child joins, the school creates a profile of the child's interests, strengths and weaknesses, which is then used to create a personalized learning plan. The child is then given a weekly list of individual and group activities and exercises to complete in order to meet their goals.
Cameras in classrooms monitor lessons, and teachers can review the videos to keep tabs on progress. An app lets teachers and parents keep in touch.