Jen Q. Public: Can cognitive learning keep students in school?

Digital Marketing Lead, Public Services Sector, IBM Analytics

Ignacio “Nacho” Estrada, director for grants administration at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, once said, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” Given that 30 percent of college students drop out after their first year, we may really need to listen to Estrada and take a closer look at how we are educating tomorrow’s leaders.

Retailers have long realized that customers shop and buy differently. Healthcare workers are avidly working on enhancing the patient experience. But while the corporate world has adopted personalization for customers, patients and shoppers, are educational institutions catering to their customers—the students?

Students learn differently. Even within a single family parents can see that their children have different propensities for learning—which is even true for twins. The challenge now is for educational institutions to find a way to personalize learning. Thankfully, cognitive technologies enable educational institutions to collect and analyze student data over long periods of time to identify patterns, so that teachers can then offer personalized learning experiences to their students. Data from attendance, library usage, test scores and even parking lots can all play a role in enhancing understanding students and identifying those students at risk of dropping out.

Cognitive learning may be a relatively new term to educators, but hopefully not for long. Gwinnett County Public Schools is already using big data analytics and cognitive technologies to identify similarities in how students learn and predict performance and learning needs. Armed with this insight, teachers then develop specific content and teaching techniques aligned to each of the district’s 170,000 students to deliver an optimal learning experience.

Estrada’s words are right up there with the quotes of Ronald Reagan, Mahatma Ghandi and the like. Every time I read it, I am inspired to take action. Learn more about leveraging analytics to teach the way students learn.

For more information on cognitive education, attend the Watson in Education: Leveraging Cognitive Capabilities to Drive Better Outcomes session at IBM Insight 2015. Register today—it's not too late! Once you register, do yourself a favor and check out the session preview tool. Don't forget to learn more about IBM solutions for government, education and healthcare before you get onsite.

And that's analytics in the public sector through my lens.

Until next time,

Jen Q.