Philadelphia opens high-tech school of the future

September 9, 2006

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Philadelphia on Thursday opened a public high school where students work on wireless laptops, teachers eschew traditional subjects for real-world topics and parents can track their child’s work on the Internet.

Called “The School of the Future” and created with help from software giant Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research), it is believed to be the first in the world to combine innovative teaching methods with the latest technology, all housed in an environmentally friendly building.

The school, which cost the school district $63 million to build, is free and has no entrance exams. The 170 students in the inaugural ninth-grade class were selected by lottery from 1,500 applicants.

Three-quarters of the students come from the surrounding West Philadelphia neighborhood; 95 percent of the students are black, and about 85 percent come from low-income households, the school district said.

Philadelphia School District Chief Executive Paul Vallas told students they would be scrutinized by other schools around the world.

“You have become instant role models,” Vallas said. “People are going to be … watching you.”

Student still sit in classrooms, but lessons rely heavily on information found on the Internet and on interactive software. Students will be allowed to learn at their own pace. Homework is done on computer and sent to the teacher for grading and parents can access the school’s network to read teacher feedback on their child’s progress. I wonder if our law class can follow that format or not.

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