Without a focus on personalised learning and targeting underserved areas, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan don’t believe education can truly thrive.
That was the theme of Zuckerberg’s May 4 Facebook post on the Chan Zuckerberg Education Initiative and a follow-up Facebook Live event. The education arm is the first project the couple has announced since the December unveiling of the Initiative.
“When our daughter Max was born, Priscilla and I wrote a letter asking if it was possible for children of Max’s generation to learn 100 times more than we learn today,” the Facebook CEO wrote in his post. “This isn’t as crazy as it sounds.”
One of the primary goals of the Education Initiative will be to make the intimate experience of tutoring something kids can get inside an ordinary classroom environment.
Loads of research have found the 1:1 learning model, where there is one teacher for each student, is the most effective. Unfortunately, due to the constraints of school population and staff size, many schools can’t personalise education to just one student, or sometimes even a handful of students who study at a similar level.
According to Chan and Zuckerberg, technology can play a crucial role in moving kids toward the 1:1 ratio.
“Teachers and students have many different options for learning each lesson,” Zuckerberg wrote in his post, “from working in teams, to playing learning games, to watching videos and talking to mentors. Every student can learn in their own way at their own speed in a way that maximizes their potential.”
The other major goal of the Education Initiative involves tying together health organisations, families, and schools to give underserved kids a bigger safety net while they’re in school.
Chan, for example, is the CEO of Primary School, a private school set to open in August 2016 in East Palo Alto, California. The mission of the school is to support families from the outset, even going so far as to offer prenatal care for mothers with children already enrolled.
“This is a long term mission and progress won’t happen overnight,” Zuckerberg notes. “But if we plant seeds now and let them grow over time, then we can improve complex systems like the way we educate our children.”