It is said that knowledge is power which is why education has become critical for a successful career and life. In a job market that views candidates through their scope of skills and academic adept hood, people of all ages recognize the symbolic nature of higher learning. However, the education system is not perfect: It can be costly and time-consuming; Instructors may be socially awkward and not able to connect with their audience; Students may not receive the support in the midst of an already overcrowded classroom. Similar imperfections exist in lower grade levels as well. The changing landscape of education along with the diverse needs of students has forced academic directors to rethink their approach.
Not only are those directly involved with education re-evaluating but business moguls such as Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are on the forefront of change. In a Facebook post from September of 2015 Mark wrote, “The approach is called ‘personalized learning…’ The idea is that teachers work with students to customize instruction to meet the student’s individual needs and interests. Technology in personalized learning enables teachers and students to create personal learning plans, track progress and find materials to help them learn best. When technology is tailored to students’ needs, it frees up time for teachers to do what they do best — mentor students.” This led to the birth of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC. where new school software could be developed, collaborations between educational technology startups could be formulated and billions of dollars could be channeled into modifying the classroom. The couple’s commitment is unmovable confirmed with last year’s announcement that they will donate 99% of their Facebook shares, valued at $45 billion, to social issues that hold a special place in their hearts. Like many techies from the Silicon Valley, they are investing in ways that clash with conventions in hopes of creating a brighter future based on personalization.
One of their recent initiatives has been the literacy platform, Newsela, which organizes news articles for instructors and students based on their reading levels. As part of its push to encourage civic literacy, the Student Vote 2016 enables young scholars to participate in the voting process through non-fiction reading projects, discussions and mock presidential elections. These mock elections are hosted by Newsela and just like the real process, involves millions of “voters” (whom are really students), across the U.S.
More currently On May 4th, Chan and Zuckerberg assigned The U.S. Department of Education’s former secretary, James Shelton, to supervise their LLC. and expand on these education efforts. This relationship will concentrate on tech-based academic personalization that enables students K-12 to learn at their own pace and offer sound solutions for communities that struggle to serve adequate education. During their video discussion Zuckerberg said, “Jim will bring all of his own experience in improving personalized learning and helping underserved communities.” Shelton is equally passionate about these efforts and the role he will play in implementing effective curriculums for the next generation.
Chan and Zuckerberg are yet again revolutionizing traditional structures that are losing its potency in modern times. By making the right connections and investing in the most sensible tech-based solutions, students from all over the world may soon have access to proper education. With $45 billion at their disposal, they have plenty of leverage to make the adjustments and perfect it as time goes on. Let us hope that their philanthropic ambitions can synch with the much-needed changes required in the educational system.
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