Imagine, you enter New School Elementary. In front of you, you see rows of 40-inch flat screen televisions. You find your name listed in alphabetical order. You see your schedule. At 8:30 you’re meeting with the Math teacher to work with a small group; at 9:30 you’re meeting with your online tutor to work through a language tutorial; at 10:30 you have 30 minutes of free time to eat or play outside; then from 11-12 you’re working on a research project with one other student. The day begins. You walk past the television screens into the large open atrium that is New School Elementary.
It’s a large open space with an individual student desk area with internet and power plug-ins, group table areas, a media presentation area, and a large kitchen table where students come and go as they please. There are no classrooms. It seems more like a modern library than it does a school. Is this a school?
Indeed it is. It’s New School Elementary.
The research is clear: All students learn differently. There is no one-way to teach students. All acquire knowledge in different ways, and all bring different background knowledge to school. Therefore, the ideal learning environment is pluralized and individualized; meaning the environment is designed to allow access to information in a wide variety of ways to suit the learning needs of the individual.
Moreover, computers make it easy to assess student performance. Algorithmic student assessment programs exist and are used at New School Elementary to assess performance. For example, after a student learns new material (via individual work, online tutoring, or small group learning) that student takes an online test to assess their performance. The computer program gives the student instant feedback, and it tells the student if he or she learned the material. That information is cataloged on a database that all teachers can access.