When it comes to education, data shows that deep knowledge and practical skills in science and math levels the playing field of opportunity for a diverse population of young people, regardless of zip code. Despite the fact that success in math in the elementary grades connects directly to achievement across all subjects, elementary school teachers – who teach all subjects – often do not get either the preparation or support they need to improve their ability to teach math effectively.
All researchers agree on one data point: nothing produces high levels of student achievement more than quality teaching. We have seen how rigorous STEM education in IBM P-TECH 9-14 schools is already propelling successful graduates into college and new-collar careers. And we’ve learned that by forging deep partnerships among the public and private sectors, we can prepare young people to compete in the global economy while meeting the growing needs of industry. And yet, despite their best efforts, many teachers lack the resources to help them deliver higher quality instruction.
And so today, the IBM International Foundation is announcing an exciting development in our ongoing drive to strengthen education at all levels and help prepare the next generation of STEM leaders. Teacher Advisor With Watson focuses the innovative power of IBM cognitive computing on perhaps the most critical – yet all-too-overlooked – aspect of education: helping teachers improve their skills and educate our children more effectively.
Developed with several years of input and testing from and by teachers – in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers, state education superintendents, national education leaders and education nonprofits, and with support from the Stavros Niarchos, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations – Teacher Advisor With Watson is a thoroughly vetted, easy-to-use and totally free virtual advisor for teachers. With its version 1.0 release focused on Kindergarten through grade 5 math, Teacher Advisor is available now to aid elementary school teachers in formulating high quality lesson plans and sharpening their instructional skills. The tool provides access to videos of excellent teaching, along with lesson plans and teaching strategies, and integrates all of its content in a user-friendly way designed to meet teachers’ needs. Teacher Advisor With Watson helps teachers reach young learners at all ability levels with proven lessons and strategies that work.
As of September 2017, elementary school teachers across the nation are beginning to use Teacher Advisor With Watson, a free online tool powered by IBM Watson artificial intelligence technology to help them confidentially access targeted lesson plans and video for math instruction. From left to right: Ulana Ainsworth, a fourth and fifth grade special education teacher in the Boston Public Schools; Cliff Archey, a former teacher who manages education programs for IBM Citizenship; and Sheena Lee, an elementary school teacher in the Boston Public Schools. (Photo Credit: John Mottern/Feature Photo Service for IBM)
IBM technologists worked directly with teachers and other education experts to train Watson cognitive technology in the language of elementary-school math, which is the gateway to learning more complex concepts. By putting the power of Watson in the hands of teachers, Teacher Advisor will help strengthen their ability to teach skills to students with varying degrees of preparation and ability. And because Teacher Advisor is cognitive, it will continue to learn and improve with training and use.
Through Teacher Advisor With Watson, IBM continues its commitment to innovation in support of education. We envision cognitive technology empowering teachers to do what they do best – spark a child’s passion for learning. Beyond that, more effective teaching and learning at the elementary levels will give young people the strong foundations they need to succeed in school at all levels.
In a world with rising inequality, increasing demands on teachers, and a widening gap between the requirements of industry and student preparation, Teacher Advisor can help educators ensure that all students – regardless of cultural background or family income – master the skills necessary to succeed. This innovative solution exemplifies the potential of augmented intelligence (AI) to assist people in improving their lives and work.
Please take a moment to explore how Teacher Advisor With Watson will save teachers time, support them with vetted content, and help them help our children realize their promise and potential.
Jennifer Ryan Crozier is President of the IBM International Foundation, and Vice President of IBM Corporate Citizenship.
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