Quality education: The engine of economic growth
Nothing is more fundamental to economic growth than building 21st-century skills. IBM’s longstanding commitment to education has evolved over the years to anticipate the needs of a changing world. We have addressed issues of childhood and adult literacy, early childhood exposure to math and science concepts, and the shortage of qualified math and science teachers. In 2014 we witnessed a dramatic expansion of our grades 9-14 schools program, which we designed to forge stronger, more meaningful, and more sustainable connections between school and career. 2014 also marked the beginning of a new era in the application of cognitive computing technology to the teaching profession, as IBM demonstrated the proof of concept for a no-cost, interactive, cognitive computing mentor available anytime to help teachers improve their teaching.
Among the company's most significant education initiatives is IBM P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) grades 9-14 model that transforms the structure of schooling as it connects secondary education directly to college and career. Developed in response to the global skills gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), each P-TECH model school is a public-private partnership among a public school district, a community college and a corporate partner that helps create a curriculum that tracks directly to the 21st-century labor market.
Recognizing that today’s high-school curricula need to be rigorous and relevant enough to prepare graduates for college and career, P-TECH provides an integrated approach to learning that embeds workplace skills into a strong academic curriculum. IBM-sponsored P-TECH school programs include in-person and online mentoring through IBM MentorPlace®, instruction in problem-solving and workplace skills, paid internships and the potential to be “first in line” for jobs upon graduation. All P-TECH programs extend through grade 14 and confer both the high-school diploma and a no-cost associate degree from each school's community college partner.
“We want to expand STEM education that builds the skills employers are looking for now and in the future. Schools like P-TECH in New York offer one example of powerful new models that are already emerging.”
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
P-TECH schools are open admissions (no admissions testing) public schools that work within existing district budgets and admit students of all abilities based on their expression of interest and desire to succeed. The program launched in 2011 with an inaugural school in Brooklyn, New York, expanded to 27 schools by 2014, and is expected to serve nearly 100,000 students through 100 schools in the United States and Australia by 2016. To facilitate that expansion, IBM created the PTECH.org website in 2014 to provide a structured and repeatable recipe for forging the public-private partnerships essential to launching a P-TECH school.
“I was delighted to visit P-TECH while in New York. I believe this is an innovative and valuable education model for us to consider in Australia.”
Hon. Tony Abbott, prime minister of Australia
In June 2015, six students from the first P-TECH school in Brooklyn completed their program two years early — earning their high-school diplomas and college associate degrees in just four years. Five of the six were the first in their families to graduate college and all six were offered positions with IBM; three will continue their educations with scholarships at four-year colleges and universities.
P-TECH’s first graduating class includes Cletus Andoh, headed to Syracuse University; Kiambu Gall, who will join IBM; Rahat Mahmud, who will enter the Macaulay Honors College at Queens College in New York City; Michelle Nguyen, who will attend Long Island University as the first in her family to graduate high school or college; Gabriel Rosa, who has accepted a position with IBM; and Radcliffe Sadler, who introduced President Obama during his visit to P-TECH and will be joining IBM.
Like most P-TECH students around the country, these young scholars came from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and underserved neighborhoods where residents typically lack access to quality education and subsequent employment. After expansion in Connecticut, the city of Chicago and across New York State, other areas — including Colorado and Rhode Island — are launching P-TECH schools.
“Growing Rhode Island's economy begins with strengthening our schools. By making a college degree or professional certification more affordable and accessible, we can help students build the skills they need to be successful and compete in the 21st-century economy. That’s why we’re pursuing the P-TECH model in Rhode Island.”
Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo
Highlights from other P-TECH schools include:
Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy — Chicago, Illinois
- Opened in fall 2012.
- 93 percent year-to-date attendance, above the district high school average of 90 percent.
- Nearly 40 percent of third-year students enrolled in college courses in spring 2015.
- Students enrolled in college courses have earned an average of 13 college credits.
- 17 third-year students have already earned between 26 and 30 credits and will be eligible to earn an associate degree by the spring of 2017.
Excelsior Academy — Newburgh, New York
- Opened in fall 2014.
- 98 percent attendance rate through first marking period, surpassing the district high school average of 93 percent.
- 66 percent of all students made the honor roll during first quarter.
Norwalk Early College Academy — Norwalk, Connecticut
- Opened in fall 2014.
- 98 percent attendance rate.
- 42 percent of students made the honor roll.
“We are seeing great results at Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA), our first P-TECH school in Connecticut. With three new schools in the works, and with 16 NECA scholars currently on track to graduate with their associate’s degree in four years — and ready to fill jobs at companies like IBM — we are creating a new paradigm for education in our state.”
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy
It is expected that, by 2016, 100 corporations will have joined IBM in supporting P-TECH schools and expanding the P-TECH network. Together, we are strengthening the connection between high school, college and career, and providing a clear pathway to the middle class for historically underserved young people. With the help of dedicated teachers, IBM and our corporate partners, P-TECH students are defying the expectations of place as they transform themselves, the workplace and the world of education.
of fourth-year students have met both college readiness benchmarks
of those eligible, enrolled in at least one college course
P-TECH students earned a grade of C or better in 70% of all courses taken.
Codename: Watson Teacher Advisor
Quality teaching is critical to effective education. Yet, teachers often lack the opportunities and resources for professional development to improve their classroom skills. That's why IBM is applying innovative technology to the challenge of improving teacher quality. The IBM Watson™ cognitive computing system is built to mirror the human learning process — observing, interpreting and evaluating information to make informed decisions. Watson is transforming data-intensive industries such as healthcare, where new information becomes available at speeds and in volumes far too great for humans to maintain up-to-the-minute expertise.
In September 2014, IBM unveiled the proof of concept for Codename: Watson Teacher Advisor — an application of IBM Watson to the profession of teaching — before an audience of 100 education thought leaders, policy makers and funders.
This breakthrough application of technology harnesses the power of IBM Watson cognitive computing to provide just-in-time guidance and mentorship to help teachers improve their teaching. The session included a panel discussion among education leaders and teachers about how the new system could be a game changer for educators. The response was overwhelmingly positive, confirming that the vision and general direction for the development of the technology was on course. When grounded in research and developed in conjunction with experts in the field, Codename: Watson Teacher Advisor holds great promise in strengthening teaching across the United States, with potential applications in other areas of the world.
“Imagine teachers having high-quality, vetted lesson plans and pedagogical resources at their fingertips. That is what Watson technology promises to do. The initial focus on math in grades three through five is important — teaching the concepts of math becomes more complicated in these grades, with fractions being the gateway for further learning.”
Mitchell Chester, commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Watson Teacher Advisor will be the world’s first advanced cognitive computing tool focused exclusively on supporting and strengthening the ability of teachers to improve instruction and student achievement. Confidential, non-judgmental, enabled for mobile users, and totally free of charge, Codename: Watson Teacher Advisor is being supported by philanthropic funders including the Ford Foundation, the IBM International Foundation, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. With an initial focus on grade-three mathematics, we expect to launch a pilot in the fall of 2015, and make it available to all teachers in North America by 2016.
IBM’s Teachers TryScience program expands and reinforces teacher competency, initially focused on math and science. The program makes available, free of charge, 471 lessons and 73 pedagogical strategies in 13 languages. Program achievements in 2014 include:
- Collaborating with the National House of Science in Denmark to promote partnerships between educators and employers. This partnership has positioned IBM as an industry leader driving the STEM agenda in Denmark, and highlights the importance of public-private engagement in addressing the skills gap.
- Joining with the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) to provide STEM training for teachers in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. CEMASTEA is the STEM teacher professional development agency of Kenya’s Ministry of Education.
- Partnering with the South African Association of Science and Technology Educators (SAASTE), a nonprofit that works with teachers to enhance their effectiveness in STEM education. Together, Teachers TryScience and SAASTE representatives conducted a STEM education workshop for senior Department of Education officials. This work complemented an IBM Corporate Service Corps engagement to map Teachers TryScience content to South Africa’s national curriculum.
In the United States in 2015, Teachers TryScience will offer more than 20 lessons mapped to next-generation science standards through a partnership with Achieve Inc. and the New York Hall of Science. Educators and administrators of education-focused nonprofits from around the world have praised Teachers TryScience for the ease with which it helps teachers and others improve their instructional effectiveness in critical STEM subjects.
Higher learning is essential to the transformation of communities, industries, and economies. IBM takes an active role in working with institutions of higher learning to improve and extend their curricula so that students are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for today’s job market. Our focus over the past few years has been to engage with university faculty around the world to help transform their academic programs so they can create a larger pipeline of critical skills in key technologies such as big data, analytics, cybersecurity, mobile computing, digital commerce and cognitive computing. IBM does this by offering a rich set of resources through academic initiatives that provide faculty with no-cost access to software, course materials, videos and experts — as well as opportunities to engage in real-world challenges. We have worked with more than 1,000 universities to enhance their academic programs.
Among the highlights in 2014:
The Jefferson Project at Lake George
In 2014, IBM provided a Shared University Research Award to the Jefferson Project at Lake George, a multi-year collaboration among IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and The Fund for Lake George that aims to make the 32-mile New York lake a global model for ecosystem understanding and protection.
A recent 30-year longitudinal study of Lake George has suggested that road salt incursion and invasive species are contributing to the degradation of the lake’s overall health. Begun in 2013, the Jefferson Project focuses on advancing the understanding of Lake George’s ecosystem through research, using advanced cyber-physical systems and coupled modeling of the ecosystem. The research involves a complex, intelligent, distributed cyber-infrastructure with numerous sensor platforms in and around the lake to measure physical, chemical and biological parameters. This observational platform is linked to a computer modeling system that includes weather, hydrological (runoff), hydrodynamical (circulation) and biological (food web) models. The goal of the project is to reveal scientific findings that will help address natural ecosystem management of the lake in areas such as water quality.
Specifically, IBM is contributing our Deep Thunder™ weather forecasting technology, as well as a water circulation model of the lake developed by the IBM Research lab in Dublin, Ireland, and a precipitation run-off model created by IBM Research labs in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Austin, Texas. RPI is contributing a biological model of the lake. Together, the project participants hope to create an essential point of contact for integrating models built with different time and space scales and for developing assets for an environmental monitoring, management and risk platform.
Africa Skills Initiative
According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, Africa will have the largest workforce on the planet — larger than China’s or India’s — by 2040. Yet skills development on the continent is a serious challenge that is expected to impact Africa’s growth. In response, businesses, governments, universities and entrepreneurs are joining together to create a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Africa.
Launched in February 2014, IBM’s Africa Skills Initiative provides a multi-pronged approach to technical skills development in areas that include mobile, cyber-security, business analytics and big data. The components of this initiative include:
- Middle East Africa University Program for Africa — provides free IBM software and course curricula in a private cloud environment for faculty and students at universities across Africa to study the subject areas mentioned above. In 2014, universities in six countries enrolled in the program to gain access to the software.
- IBM’s Africa Technical Academy — offers IBM customers, business partners and developers professional training and certification to enhance their technical depth. In 2014, Africa Technical Academy hosted events in six countries with more than 800 participants.
- IBM’s LEADing to Africa program — develops early professional talent around the world by providing global IBM internship experiences to students interested in careers in Africa. Last year more than 200 interns participated in the program, representing at least 30 countries worldwide.
In 2015, IBM intends to expand the Africa Skills Initiative to include academic tracks on cloud computing and to reach new universities, students, faculty, business partners and clients across the continent. With this initiative, IBM is committed to assist Africa in its transformation by helping to develop skills needed for the 21st century and creating a viable innovation ecosystem for Africa, our business and the world.
Using predictive analytics to improve care for at-risk expectant mothers
In early 2015, IBM announced a project with the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT) at University College Cork Maternity Hospital to help improve early detection and treatment of hypertension and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. The vision for the Learning to Evaluate Blood Pressure at Home (LEANBH) project is to manage hypertension and pre-eclampsia in at-risk, expectant mothers in their own homes using remote monitoring of medical data. The program aims to reduce the number of unnecessary follow-up hospital visits, lowering the additional stress and cost of visits to the patients and on the healthcare system.
Teaming with IBM to complement its own expertise, the INFANT Centre is creating a patient-centric perinatal system that combines real-time remote monitoring technology via mobile devices with web-based advanced analytics and care management. Remote monitoring will be combined with predictive analytics to enable faster responses and a higher quality of care through automated alerts to doctors. It also aims to help improve data sharing among the healthcare team members and offers the ability to integrate with electronic healthcare records.
“I congratulate both IBM and the INFANT Centre for collaborating on LEANBH. The project demonstrates the value of collaboration between industry and academia. LEANBH has the potential to have a global impact on the medical care offered to expectant mothers.”
Ireland An Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny
Advanced technologies help China meet ambitious environmental goals
Launched in July 2014, IBM’s Green Horizon initiative aims to leverage advanced technologies such as cognitive computing, big data analysis, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to help China’s economy grow with balance. The goal of the 10-year initiative is to protect the environment, improve public health and ultimately achieve sustainable development in China. Enterprise energy conservation and transformation of the energy and utility industry are the main goals of the program; other important components include emissions reduction, prevention and control of atmospheric pollution, and renewable energy utilization.
IBM China Research Lab is collaborating with the Institute of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tsinghua University to launch joint research projects. These projects aim to develop a digital energy management platform based on IoT, big data analytics and cloud technologies to provide comprehensive analytics of energy optimization management and decision support for government and enterprises. IBM and Tsinghua University will share resources to develop industry solutions, help the latest academic achievements go to market effectively, and cultivate a talent pipeline to meet the industry demands.
“The key to tackling environmental problems is not only monitoring emissions, but adopting a comprehensive approach to air quality management and addressing the issues at their roots. Initiatives like IBM’s Green Horizon can help by fostering joint innovation across the entire energy value chain.”
Dr. Lu Qiang, professor at Tsinghua University and fellow of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Building big data skills in China
In July 2014, IBM embarked on a project with universities in China to help address the burgeoning big data and analytics skills opportunity. Dubbed IBM U-100, the program will feature an IBM donation of big data and analytics software worth $100 million and provide expertise to help 100 universities in China create the next generation of data scientists. The effort seeks to prepare 40,000 students per year for a career in big data and analytics.
IBM will provide technology, skills training and campus lectures to accelerate program development, and will also help work with universities to develop new undergraduate and graduate degree programs for the data scientist and chief data officer roles, with a focus on applying analytics to solve challenges in industries.
The IBM U-100 program will work with kaikeba.com, a Chinese IT online education platform, to launch a series of online courses focused on big data and analytics technologies and skills for university students and IT professionals. By the end of 2014, 22 universities had joined the U-100 program, including Peking University, Fudan University, Xian Jiaotong University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, South China University of Technology, and Nankai University.