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Education for a Smarter Planet

The future of learning: Enabling economic growth



 

Education technology can improve the systems of how we teach and how we learn

For a six-year-old starting school today, it will be a very different world when she is ready to enter the workforce. Every two years, the current rate of information growth nearly doubles. To carry the entire world’s current knowledge, she would need 64 backpacks by the time she graduates from high school.(1)

So how do we shape an education to meet expectations we don’t understand yet?

Although it is more and more apparent that an education best predicts the economic success of an individual — and a society as whole — our current education systems are under increasing pressures. How can these systems respond when they are faced with limited resources, inflexible infrastructures, entrenched processes, increasingly incoherent and incompatible data, and rising consumer demands?


Education technology can turn vast amounts of disparate data into usable information

One resource the world has no shortage of is data. Schools and universities have always recorded and stored data as they tracked grades, attendance, test scores and demographics. With the increasing availability of technology in the instructional process, educational institutions now collect, in real time, data about what their students learn and how they progress. Using big data and analytics, everything from attendance to a campus building's energy usage 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.

Our use of analytics is enabling teachers to easily access information, whereas heretofore it would take a good bit of time. Now they can really concentrate on the teaching piece and on getting the student engaged.

- J. Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett County Public School system


The classroom can be anywhere and everywhere

Today’s students expect their learning environments to mirror the environments in which they grew up and now live ― that is, punctuated by always-on, available-anywhere information and personalized, multichannel learning.

The term "classroom" is becoming more figurative than literal. Between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of college students owning tablet computers increased by more than 300 percent, and the number of high school students who own tablets increased by 400 percent.(2) More than 80 percent of public and private universities and almost 70 percent of community colleges have wireless classrooms.(3)

Experts believe that mobile technology offers the opportunity to lower educational expenditures while helping to improve student achievement. Researchers have calculated that the annual savings from implementing a technology-based learning environment would be US$56,437 per student.(4) This figure includes the combination of additional costs for acquiring and maintaining the technology infrastructure, reduced spending for curricula and study-related resources, as well as societal cost savings realized from improved student performance and capabilities.

The curriculum takes to the cloud

Already, student experiences are being enhanced through data, mobile and cloud technology. Ensuring that each student who enrolls on a higher education course has the support to graduate and secure employment is fundamental to every university’s mission. To that end, London South Bank University has invested in the Exceptional Student Experience, which uses a mix of analytics, mobile, social and security solutions built on cloud infrastructure to monitor academic progress of individual students. The five-year platform augments students’ learning experiences and helps the institution achieve its digital transformation goals.

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  • Alex KaplanAlex Kaplan

    National Education Practice Leader

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    Vice President, Global Education Industry


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1.“ The future of learning: Enabling economic growth,” IBM. January 2014.

2. Stacey Finkel, The Pearson Foundation. New Survey Finds Dramatic Increase in Tablet Ownership Among College Students and High School Seniors [press release]. March 14, 2012.

3. Kenneth C. Green. The 21st National Survey of Computing and Information Technology in US Higher Education. 2010 EDUCAUSE Conference. Anaheim, CA. Oct. 14, 2010.

4. Greaves, T.; Hayes, J.; Wilson, L.; Gielniak, M.; & Peterson, R. Technology Factor: Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost-Effectiveness. MDR 2010.