First, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are seeking to disrupt education in the same way its technologies have disrupted other areas of everyday life, from hailing a cab and booking accommodation to finding a date or looking after your health. The main concept Silicon Valley uses to explain its focus in education is “personalization,” as demonstrated by startup schools like AltSchool, Khan Lab School and the Summit Schools network.
The Stanford University education technology researcher Larry Cuban has been reporting on some of these new schools based on a series of lesson observations. Though he remains skeptical of their capacity to “scale-up” beyond the sites where they have started-up in Silicon Valley itself, he has also reported admiration for their synthesis of progressive, inquiry-based pedagogies and efficient, administrative uses of data analytics to support personalized learning.
Second, though, Silicon Valley has set itself the challenge of educating young people to be able to live and thrive in the disrupted world — that is, “to rule the machines.” The way it hopes to achieve this aim is through teaching kids to code.
One such effort, according to Natasha Singer in the New York Times, is the learning to code organization Code.org, “a major nonprofit group financed with more than $60 million from Silicon Valley luminaries and their companies, which has the stated goal of getting every public school in the United States to teach computer science. Its argument is twofold: Students would benefit from these classes, and companies need more programmers.”
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