If only kids enjoyed school as much as they do video games. Well, Dallas ISD is getting there with its new Hybrid School, slated to open in the fall.
"I think it's the first of its kind that actually meets students where they're at," said Taylor Shead, CEO of Stimuli, the company behind the online platform used at the school.
Students get an avatar -- their own little person -- to walk around a virtual world that looks a lot like Dallas. There are links to internships at local companies, and points they can score for doing their work, and cash in for everything from scholarships to a new pair of Jordans for their virtual self.
"Our system knows Sophia has a college and career goal of being a nurse so she gets a message that says, 'Hey, we matched you with a free course offered by SMU,' or from the industry perspective, Now, we've matched you with a virtual reality internship,'" Shead said.
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This is just half of it though, students in grades four, five and six will spend three days a week working online, researching, playing educational games and interacting with their teacher. Then twice a week, they'll come to the classroom. Their school building is more like a creative office space. where kids sit around, brainstorm and work together as a team.
"We will have the first-ever elementary school podcast classroom where the kids can create podcasts, content," Principal Olga Romero said. "It's just really hands-on learning by doing environment where the kids can thrive and have a voice on what they feel and share with everyone else."
Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa first talked about all this more than a year ago -- long before COVID-19.
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The pandemic helped the district push the plan forward faster, as a place for students who learn better at home than in the building. It's also a fun way to get those technology-driven students who thrive on gaming, to put their energy into something with lifelong results.
If you would like to sign up from the program, it's open to any student in Dallas ISD, and then if there are seats leftover, it will open up to students in other districts. They are still accepting applications. Click here for more information.