A small team of Facebook engineers has been working together with a group of local educators on a project that's going to reshape learning through technology.
The Facebook team has chipped in to help create a classroom experience that is centered around students' ambitions at Summit Public Schools, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox wrote in a blog post recently.
These schools have taken a very different approach to learning. First, the classroom is not for lectures. Content and assessments are delivered online through teacher-created materials, and classroom time is reserved for teacher-led real-world projects and collaboration.
Second, the learning experience for students is completely personalized to them and they move along at their own pace.
Students start by working with teachers to set long-term goals (e.g. "become an investigative journalist", "go to a state school", "learn to code") then lay out a plan to achieve them over the course of many years.
They can then visualiae and track all of their coursework as a path towards these goals, connecting their daily decisions to their long-term aspirations.
This means that every moment of each students' day is motivated by what they want to be when they grow up.
Alongside this, teachers can then check in on how their students are doing to give tailored feedback each day, and parents can do the same to view their kids' progress at any time.
However, while this model was changing the way kids learn, the technology just was not good enough.
So the Facebook team volunteered to rebuild their tool, called the Personalised Learning Plan (PLP), for Summit's use in the 2014 school year.
Last year, more than 2,000 students and 100 teachers spent the school year using it.
The PLP is completely separate from Facebook and does not require an account.
Everybody working on the PLP is subject to strict privacy controls that help protect student data.
"Through our kids, our families and the teachers in our lives, we've seen that there's an opportunity to help apply our skills to the future of education, and we all wanted to find a way to help make an impact by doing what we do best a" building software," Cox wrote.
"With Summit it's starting to feel like we've found the perfect partnership," he noted.