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Education for a Smarter Planet

Cloud computing, virtualisation and student data analytics can make our systems smarter

Pike County, Kentucky
Blue-sky thinking leads to cloud computing

School districts operate on tight budgets in good times, but when Pike County found their IT budgets sliced by 80%, they knew it called for drastic measures—or true blue-sky thinking.

A rural Kentucky district of 10,000 students, Pike County administrators had struggled with providing IT resources for its students, teachers and staff. Desktop computers were still running Windows 98 with failing CD and hard drives; and access to the district's portal, which houses the applications and information the students and teachers needed, was inconsistent.

Working with IBM Global Technology Services and Desktone software, the district developed a virtual desktop infrastructure delivered as a cloud service. Students now boot the existing hardware with a special CD that bypasses the operating system and connects them instead to a high-performing virtual desktop environment. This in turn links to the district's portal site with all of the tools and information they need. Pike County can double the life of its hardware—it's planning on using seven-year-old machines without sacrificing performance—while providing students, teachers and administrators with equal, transparent access to its assets.

The district estimates cost savings of 64% over five years, compared to the cost of servicing the desktops on premises.


Mobile County, Alabama
Identifying, monitoring and helping students at risk

Each year, only 70 percent of American high school students graduate. Mobile County Public Schools System (MPCSS) (US) is the largest district in Alabama, covering ten cities and a population of 400,000. Committed to fulfilling national education standards, it had difficulty tapping into its vast stores of student data because each academic year was in a separate physical database.

To improve the way it managed student performance—the district was especially focused on identifying and helping students at risk—they chose an IBM analytics solution.

Customisable dashboards will provide access to up-to-date information on key measures of performance such as grades, attendance and interventions. Teachers can also tap into online resources and specialised lesson plans to individualise instruction for students who need help.

The system interconnects with the District Attorney's Office on a number of special joint education initiatives to prevent truancy and encourage education. The solution also will help MPCSS comply with transparency and report mandates of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is helping to underwrite this initiative.


Smarter Planet University Jam. jam (jam) n. An Internet-based platform for conducting conversations through brainstorming.
Nearly 2,000 students and faculty. 200+ universities. 40 countries. 72 hours.

What do twenty-somethings want?
T-shaped people. 100 mpg cars. Global classrooms.

IBM started a conversation about how we can make our planet smarter and invited hundreds of university students and faculty from around the world to join us. Over the three-day online jam (US), here's what we learned:

  • 8 out of 10 students want universities to revamp the traditional learning environment to include virtual learning, videoconferencing and more interdisciplinary curricula.
  • There is a strong need for "T-shaped" people who have deep knowledge in one discipline and broader knowledge in other areas.
  • 90 percent of students want to start or join a Green Advocacy group.
  • 64 percent think we can reverse carbon emissions by 2025.
  • 60 percent think education and transportation are our best hope for more sustainable cities.


IBM Study: Education Lags in Preparing Students for Globalisation and Sustainability
Students at ease with complexity, rely on data analysis

Today's university students are extremely concerned with issues of globalisation and sustainability, but only four out of 10 believe their education has prepared them to address these issues, according to a new IBM study designed to gauge the attitudes and opinions of the next-generation global workforce and business leaders.

This first-of-its-kind survey -- which asked university students the same questions posed to global business leaders in IBM's 2010 Global CEO Study -- finds that both students and CEOs believe creativity is the most important emerging competency of future leaders; and reveals clear confidence about the ability of information technologies to address looming issues in business or society.

Conducted through IBM's Institute for Business Value, the Study, "Inheriting a Complex World: Future Leaders Envision Sharing the Planet," reflects the consolidated view of more than 3,600 students in more than 40 countries.

The study reveals a discerning and decidedly optimistic new ethos -- based on an integrated view of globalisation, sustainability and belief in technology as a path to solutions to emerging and existing problems. Almost 50 percent of students said that organisations should optimise their operations by globalising, rather than localising, to meet their strategic objectives.

Learn how our future leaders envision sharing the planet and download report (US).