IBM announces big data initiative with Gwinnett County Public Schools

Enterprise software vendor IBM has joined hands with Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) to conduct research and development that leverages big data, analytics, and cognitive technologies to generate actionable insights for personalized education and learning pathways for students.

In a statement, IBM said the Personalized Education Through Analytics on Learning Systems (PETALS) project will use machine learning, predictive modeling, content analytics and advanced case management to identify learning needs of students and recommend personalized learning pathways.

IBM earlier predicted that within five years, advanced technologies will enable the classroom to learn you, and the project with GCPS is an example of how IBM researchers are getting down to work to make that prediction a reality.

Gwinnet Public School

The goal of the PETALS project is to motivate and engages learners, and ultimately lead to significant improvement in key educational outcomes, such as reducing student drop-out rates; improving academic performance/college readiness; increasing student engagement; and enhancing teacher effectiveness.

On average, 8,300 high school students dropout each day in the US, amounting to a yearly total of over 3 million. Gwinnett County Public Schools, the 14th largest school district in the US, is located in metro Atlanta.

With an enrollment close to 170,000 students across 132 schools, this large school system continues to drive improvement in graduation rates.

IBM aims to use analysis of longitudinal student records extracted from a variety of sources. The goal is to identify similar students based on their pattern of learning, predict performance and learning needs, and align specific content and teaching techniques.

The system uses content analytics to automatically label digital learning content with instructions from curriculum standards, thereby significantly easing the challenge of retrieving the right content suited to a specific student’s needs.

Anonymized data from close to 200,000 students over 10 years are already available for analysis. The project seeks to harness the power of big data and analytics to provide timely, personalized, and actionable insights to teachers and students, helping enhance their pedagogical and learning experience.

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