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by Ben Piper September 8, 2006 - 2:44pm, 3 Comments

High School XP

Bill Gates and software mogul Microsoft welcome Philadelphia students to the first “School of the Future”.

Although the Windows operating system has helped students access and understand information in a continuously computerized world, Microsoft has taken a more direct approach to teaching America’s youth. Students, or “learners” began classes Thursday equipped with smart cards, which register attendance, open digital lockers - even track calories consumed during the day. Furthermore, laptops connected to the campus’ wireless network have replaced the commonly accepted textbook. As if that weren’t enough new technology, the “educators” have graduated beyond blackboards and utilize interactive “smart boards” with the capabilty to write, draw, and access the internet.

Not surprisingly, the school system and the Microsoft Company seem to embody a similar ethos. Simulating the typical work day, the day begins at 9:15 a.m. and ends at 4:15 p.m. The curriculum and courses are devised using the “education competency wheel,” an approach to teaching with a focus on the desirable traits Microsoft encourages among its employees. One wonders if Gates isn’t being a bit Micro-centric to demand the same traits from his students that he does his employees.

Microsoft’s futuristic system also proves that it is designed to help students succeed post-graduation, as diplomas are not awarded until college applications have been submitted.

The Philadelphia School District invested $63 million making Microsoft’s dream a reality. Should this “School of the Future” venture will catch on, it would not only tack on some zeroes to the largest bank account in the world, but could potentially revolutionize the way students learn.