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Facebook Founder Visits Rural Kentucky Schools

Bruce Parsons

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in West Virginia and Kentucky over the weekend to see some innovative ways that schools are using new technology.

Zuckerberg has been traveling the country working on his New Year’s resolution to speak with people in every state. On Sunday, he met with educators and students from across Eastern Kentucky.

Students showed Zuckerberg a small mobile house, called a tiny home, that they built in a high school shop class. He also toured a drone assembly lab and took a moment to play a virtual reality video game with some students who designed it.

“These kids were showing me the games, robots, drones, and VR apps (!!) they were coding,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

Mark Zuckerberg wanted to come and just learn about what we were doing and how we were personalizing learning for kids in our area,” Paul Green said. Green leads the Appalachian Technology Initiative at the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, which is trying to expand personalized learning.

Personalized learning allows kids to learn at their own pace, in their own way, and it maximizes all students’ potential,” he said.

Green said that several schools he works with have started using the Summit Learning Platform,  a new computer-based tool for personalized learning that Facebook engineers helped build.

Jeff Hawkins, head of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative said he hopes that Zuckerberg’s visit will spread awareness about how new tools can help rural schools.

We may be able to help other people in rural communities learn how, through the use of technology, personalized learning is possible,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins and Green work with schools across an area that has been hard-hit by the decline of the coal industry. They said they intend to continue expanding access to new technologies and personalized learning.

Zuckerberg’s invitation-only visit was arranged with little public notice and no media attention. The visit comes as Facebook faces scrutiny for its role in enabling the spread of fake news during the 2016 election.

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