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Facebook Donates $1 Million of Virtual Reality to Arkansas Schools

According to the Times Record, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and a Facebook executive announced last night that Facebook will be donating 500 virtual reality classroom kits to Arkansas' public schools, a donation that is valued to be worth $1 million.

The donation is in line with Gov. Hutchinson's agenda to propel computer science instruction overall and improve access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the state’s K-12 schools.

As the Times Record points out, Arkansas' Legislature approved in 2015 "Hutchinson's initiative to require that computer science classes be offered in every public high school in the state. Currently, about 5,500 Arkansas high school students are enrolled in computer science classes."

Since then, Arkansas has actively been pursuing partnerships to help it reach its goal.

Just last month, Arkansas announced it was partnering with Microsoft; at no cost to the state, Microsoft said it will be helping "with professional development for computer science teachers in addition to hosting a range of workshops and events for students," said UALR Public Radio.

According to Facebook's team, they support what Arkansas is doing and thus has picked it as the first state for its VR donations. A representative said Facebook plans to donate to other states with similar initiatives in the near future.

The donation will help about two-thirds of the state's public schools receive a virtual reality kit, with schools in low-income and rural areas being priorities.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

1/6/2017

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