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Florida Virtual, PBS Kids, School of One on Gates Radar

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been in a giving mood to a couple major players in the ed-tech world recently.

Yesterday, the Florida Virtual School announced it would be receiving just over $2 million in grant money to develop four college readiness courses, one each for 9th and 12th grade English, and 9th and 12th grade math.

The English courses should be released in beta form in January of next year, with the math courses to follow in January of 2013. Florida Virtual expects to partner with other vendors for designing some of the more technologically advanced elements of the courses, according to a press release, and for the courses to focus on authentic skill development, critical thinking, research, and real world experiences.

This follows news in late January that the Gates Foundation would be giving $500,000 to PBS Kids to help the children's education arm of the Public Broadcasting Service with a range of math initiatives. Plans include using the money to partner with the School of One in New York to create a new library of digital 6th grade math content, and to help expand the PBS Digital Learning Object Academy to help other public media producers create digital education resources.

The announcements reflect what appears to be a growing presence in the ed-tech world for the Gates Foundation; the philanthropy of Microsoft mogul Bill Gates and wife Melinda has for years been a visible and substantial donor in other education realms. The foundation is also a contributor to Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit publisher of Education Week.

Like most of its other education contributions, the Gates Foundations' ed-tech endeavors focus on the path toward postsecondary education. The most substantial of those contributions, the Next Generation Learning Challenges program, could funnel $60-80 million into ed-tech projects across K-12 and higher ed.

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