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There has never been a better time to make education systems smarter

School and higher education systems are straining under budget cuts. The demand for knowledge workers with specialized skills is growing by 11 percent a year. Many jobs will require lifelong training and a continuous updating of skills. And the education industry has grown increasingly complex and difficult to negotiate, as students pursue a variety of personal learning paths.

One of the greatest challenges lies in making our education technologies more efficient. For example, the United States has 15,000 individual school districts and more than 4,000 higher education institutions, most with their own goals and management processes. In China, many of the nearly 500,000 primary and middle schools are responsible for managing their own infrastructures. These redundancies have created tremendous inefficiencies, ballooning costs and silos of resources.

The good news is that advances in education technology—analytics, early warning systems to identify at-risk students, cloud computing—can help our systems refresh outdated infrastructures with new functionality. They can become more interconnected, instrumented and intelligent. In a word, smarter. And it is already happening.

A series of conversations for a smarter planet

IBM Cloud Academy
Schools and universities that use cloud technologies can share best practices and collaborate on new ideas


 

On a smarter planet, education systems on all levels can turn vast amounts of disparate data into usable information.

Using analytics, everything from student attendance to the energy use of a school building has a place in identifying targets for improvement and sharing of resources to enhance learning, spot troubling trends earlier, and instill a sense of common purpose in working toward goals.

 

Patterns for persistence
Students drop out of school for any number of reasons. The Hamilton County Department of Education (US) uses analytics and advanced modeling tools to identify the diverse patterns of kids at risk, enabling earlier intervention to keep them on the right track and resulting in increased graduation rates throughout the system.

A framework for risk management
Along with great teaching and research, institutions need a solid framework of financial stability and resource protection. The University of California (US) looked to IBM to implement an Enterprise Risk Management Information System to turn siloed data into reports about risk, ROI and loss management that have saved the university millions of dollars.

Centralizing and consolidating computing power
BlueBioU, a high-performance computer solution based on IBM processors, has helped Rice University (US) maintain its status as a leading research institution by doubling its supercomputer capacity, shortening computing time on complex applications, and freeing researchers to focus on their work instead of maintaining their own IT systems.

A major for tomorrow's world
IBM is collaborating with more than 250 universities that offer degrees in Service Science, Management and Engineering (SSME). This new academic discipline, now available at schools in 50 countries, combines technology and business skills and focuses on complex service systems such as healthcare and transportation networks.