Mar 29 2016

Facebook, Summit Schools Work Together to Make Classrooms More Personal

Continuous improvement is at the heart of personalized learning plans for Summit Schools and Facebook's partnership.

Since 2013, Facebook engineers have worked alongside Summit Public Schools teachers and administrators to fine-tune the Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) at the core of the schools’ educational model. 

“There’s a mutual commitment to continuous improvement,” says Adam Seldow, head of education partnerships at Facebook. 

Facebook engineers have appreciated the immediate feedback from teachers who use their creations in the classroom. And now they’re getting ideas and input from the 19 Summit Basecamp partners — small teams of teachers from around the country who are using the PLP — which is helping them further enhance the tool, says Seldow. 

The partner schools aren’t using Summit’s model, explains Tyler Sussman, Basecamp’s program manager. They’re committing to the idea of personalized learning and piloting the PLP within their own models. 

“At some of the schools, that has looked like mass transformation of the student experience,” says Sussman. “At others, it looks very similar to a traditional school, but maybe for the first time students are able to work at their own pace.”

Summit and Facebook are preparing for a summer Basecamp training program. Partners also have a relationship throughout the year with a mentor from the Basecamp team. 

Educators across the country are talking about personalized learning, but that can hold vastly different meanings from school to school, says Tracy Gray, managing director of the education program at the American Institutes for Research, which produced the 2016 National Education Technology Plan for the Department of Education

“When you see it working, it’s very exciting,” she says, putting Summit’s PLP in that category.

For any technology initiative to be successful, it needs invested leadership that can engage communities in the process; professional development to train teachers to successfully integrate technology into the classroom; infrastructure to support bandwidth, security and data privacy needs; and a budget that can sustain the technology long term.

The Basecamp partner schools are on the right track, says Gray, because they’re not just jumping on the personalized learning bandwagon. Rather, they’re piloting it to make sure it meets their district’s needs. 

Robert Houser

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