Facebook teaches schools a 'personalized' lesson


Facebook is making its way into classrooms with a platform teachers may actually welcome.

The Mark Zuckerberg-led company, along with Summit Public Schools, a charter school network, unveiled on Tuesday its much-hyped personalized learning platform, which will be used in 120 schools.

In a post aptly shared on Facebook, Summit Public Schools CEO Diane Tavenner extolled the new platform, and praised the teachers who received training through the Summit Basecamp program over the summer. More than 1,500 teachers and school leaders participated in the training session.

“In a personalized learning environment, a student’s success is defined by knowledge, skills, habits and mindsets,” she wrote. “Though we have a lot more work to do, we’re encouraged by student growth and survey results.”

According to Tavenner, more than 80 percent of students reported that personalized learning empowered them, and 95 percent of parents reported that they want their children to become “self-directed learners.”

The Summit-Facebook system, known as the “Summit Personalized Learning Platform,” allows students to be in control of their own learning process and complete lessons at their own pace. Two students may be learning the same content, but one may complete a video or audio project to demonstrate learning while the other might use text files.

The platform also flips the archetypal teacher model on its head. Instead of lecturing at the heads of classrooms, teachers are encouraged to take more of a mentor or coach position.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, started the Zuckerberg Chan Initiative on the day of their daughter’s birth in 2015. The purpose is to back personalized learning projects, as well as advance research in other fields.

In May, the couple announced the hiring of Jim Shelton, a former Education Department official who most recently served as head of an online master’s degree education program called 2U Inc.

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.