Facebook Brings Virtual Reality Technology Into Arkansas Classrooms

Jan 5, 2017

Facebook employees help Little Rock Central High Students test out virtual reality headgear as Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson observes.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Social media giant Facebook is bringing new technology into Arkansas high schools in order to get students to learn how to code in virtual reality.

Little Rock Central High Students and faculty gathered in the school’s auditorium Thursday to hear from a handful of speakers who talked about the “Arkansas and Facebook Techstart Partnership. In this program, Facebook is delivering 500 virtual reality kits to computer coding classrooms at most of the state’s high schools.

Facebook Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said the Menlo Park, California-based company would also train computer science teachers on programming in virtual reality.

“The goal here is to make sure that educators throughout Arkansas understand virtual reality technology. This is the next platform for learning. It’s the next platform for education. And I’m just so thrilled that we can bring this to all of you,” she said.

Egan said Facebook’s donation of Oculus Rift headsets and programming kits is valued at about one million dollars. She said Arkansas is the first state to collaborate with the company in this way. Governor Asa Hutchinson told reporters the partnership is a direct result of his initiative to establish computer science classes in every state high school.

“Well, there’s not a more visible than Facebook. Not just nationally, but globally. And to have Facebook as a partner with Arkansas really sends a signal globally that we are a mover in the technology education field. So that’s great for our state,” he said.

Hutchinson said the Arkansas Public School Resource center would assist the state Department of Education in choosing which high schools will get the kits. According to a press release, 250 Arkansas high schools will get kits. There’ll be an emphasis, Hutchinson said, on kits going to schools serving low-income communities.

Hutchinson also invited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg to visit Arkansas. Zuckerberg, who also founded the company, has resolved to visit 30 states in 2017.