In a post this past week on Fred Wilson’s wonderful site – AVC.com – he wrote about his venture capital firm’s latest educational investment, Sora Schools.
I spent some time reading about the school, and it sounds marvelous.
Here is some information from the school web site:
Sora is a live, virtual high school where students work with teachers and counselors to create their own curriculum for every subject which includes individualized projects, ambitious challenges, and cutting-edge software to teach the core subjects of Math, Science, English, and History. Students at Sora are given the responsibility and agency to control their education based on what they’re interested in and even the direction of the school program itself. Sora follows an Oxford-like model where teachers serve to challenge students, structure individual curriculum plans, facilitate their learning, and help them complete their goals, not deliver boring lectures. Sora gives students autonomy and voice in their learning, resulting in more engagement and better academic outcomes.
At Sora, projects and live workshops held by the teachers encourage students to dive deep into subjects and develop lasting knowledge. However, it is also important for students to first understand the foundational concepts–for that, Sora creates and curates online videos, books, articles, and adaptive practice for students to gain confidence before putting their skills to work. Additionally, students have quick access to teachers and TAs if they ever get stuck.
The curriculum includes not only the required high school subject areas, but also important financial literacy skills, ethics, design thinking, and soft skills such as time management and professional communication.
Sora helps its students make a better, more informed choice about their next career step–be it college, a job, research, grad-school, or anything else they choose.
Sora is intentional about putting student interests first and using those interests to create projects for students to learn real skills. They explore what interests them first–once they’ve narrowed down a few areas they want to dive deep into, Sora works with them to increase their understanding of the subjects and build portfolios of projects and work.
Sora is a project-based learning environment where students can start their own projects, choose their own timeline, and set their own evaluation metrics. Sora follows an Oxford-like model, where learning experts serve as topical experts and collaborate with students on their projects. Several studies have shown that immersive active-learning instructional methods like project-based learning through projects are much more effective than traditional instruction.
The student community is an integral part of the Sora experience. Not only do students actively participate in clubs, workshops, and related events, but students also contribute to each other’s learning academically. Peer-to-peer accountability is a key aspect of their education, and students consistently enrich the education of other students through their presentations at Friday Showcase and group learning sessions. Students meet constantly throughout the week, academically and socially, allowing them to build strong bonds and lifelong friendships.
Students at Sora also participate in the development and growth of the entire program through Roadmap Club, a weekly open forum where students voice their perspectives on areas of improvement and provide feedback on initiatives.
This sounds like a wonderful learning experience, one which enables students to not only master the basics, but also to explore in-depth their personal interests.
Here is a video that gives an overview of Sora:
And here’s a video that gives a brief look at the basics of project-based learning:
High school is such a critical age for students, and it seems as if traditional high schools turn many students away from education, often for good. For those students, Sora seems to be the ideal solution.
I hope it turns out to be a good investment for Fred’s venture capital firm, and more importantly, I hope Sora turns out be the right choice for those students who enroll.