Creating new personalized learning and IoT solutions with cognitive computing

General Manager, Internet of Things, IBM

The latest education trends are pointing to a radical overhaul of the way schools operate. Keeping with overall changes in society, much of the impetus for these developments is technology. iPads and electronic textbooks are replacing decades-old practices of using paper, pencils and books. In some institutions, e-textbooks replacing pencil and paper is already old news and they are looking to the next revolution in education. Visionary institutions have already realized the possibilities of advancing educational opportunities with new technologies.

The rapid digitization of the education industry and the emergence of cognitive systems are happening in parallel. Over the next five years, the two concepts will link, and personalized classrooms will motivate and engage learners at all levels—from a kindergartener studying the alphabet to a physics PhD candidate studying the finer points of String Theory.

Universities are now tasked with creating a student experience that pushes students beyond being mere contributors to becoming learners that will innovate businesses and industries. Educational institutions play an increasingly important role in galvanizing academia and enterprise for the improvement of student success after graduation. Enhancing academia’s role in preparing for and collaborating with business is a key focus for today’s leading universities. this in mind, we’re working with the University of South Carolina (USC) to broaden our existing collaboration by applying cognitive capabilities and the Internet of Things technologies to develop new solutions surrounding personalized learning and predictive maintenance. The $25 million Center for Applied Innovation recently opened. USC, IBM and private sector researchers will use the facility to collaborate on advancing higher education in the cognitive era.

This Center represents the potential for strong public and private partnerships to only advance the mission of using cognitive computing to progress education and research, and to serve as a catalyst to grow the next generation of business and IT leaders.

Located in Carolina’s Innovista research district, the Center was formed in 2014 to provide application services to both public and private sector organizations across North America specializing in analytics and higher education industry solutions. IBM and USC have been working together to create personalized learning tools for both students and educators using analytics to better align intelligent content, student assessments and learner data. These tools will now be enhanced with IBM Watson IoT technologies.

The Center will also build on USC’s Center for Predictive Maintenance and McNair Center’s deep expertise in IoT research for predictive maintenance. Coupled with expertise and technologies, this section of the Center will house university, IBM and other private sector researchers developing industry use cases for IoT solutions such as interconnected health equipment and intelligent supply chains.

The Center is currently developing the Intelligent Tutor app, which uses the Watson Language Speech to Text API, which would allow students to verbally ask a question, set a learning objective and then work with the app over time on assessments that help them master their objective. USC’s Admissions Advisor tool uses the same cognitive API to enable on-campus advisors to effectively compile data so they have a 360-degree view of each applicant.

USC has conducted valuable collaborative projects with us in the past, with excellent proof-of-usage around IoT, specifically for predictive maintenance. Cognitive IoT technologies will help bring multiple streams of data to the Center, revolutionizing the research on best industry use cases.

Construction on the state-of-the-art, 110,000 square-foot Center for Applied Innovation began in February 2015. Now that it is open, I very much look forward to the collaboration that will go on within its walls. I expect it to be an incubation center where great minds and technologies come together to create some truly impactful solutions.