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22 DECEMBER 2013

Global Technology Outlook 2013: Personalised Education

"An industry at the brink of transformation: The education industry is at the brink of an IT–enabled transformation. This transformation is driven by a demand for quality education that outstrips supply especially in the growth markets, misalignment between education and employment needs, and impatience with inefficiencies of education systems. For example, the government of Brazil is already funding students to go abroad because of a shortage of education infrastructure and quality educators. If growth continues to follow the existing trajectory, India will need about 800 more traditional universities than current levels today of about 350 universities.

Today, the most talked about application of technology to address these gaps is the advent of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, which are growing rapidly. Several startups have emerged including Udacity, Khan Academy and Coursera, with millions of students enrolled across hundreåds of countries. Large amounts of new data are being created, which thus far is untapped for its potential.

What is Personalized Education: Education today is mainly delivered on a one size fits all basis. This is a key cause of the poor quality and inefficiencies associated with the industry. Educational institutions can learn from healthcare by drawing the parallels of doctors to educators, patients to learners, medicine/treatment to courses/learning, and payers to education loan providers. From a technology point of view, the use of electronic health data to form patient records, derive evidence, and provide patient–centric personalized healthcare can be extended to education, with the formulation of digital student records helping to inform and provide personalized learning pathways based on the capabilities of the learner and the desired outcomes.

Implications for the industry: The education industry is ripe for innovation, as new business models are instantiated on the emerging new sources of data, in particular the longitudinal learning data (tracking student information over multiple years in multiple schools). Predictive and prescriptive analytics will be applied to improve outcomes and efficiency. Clustering learners into groups, assigning new learners to existing clusters, identifying when a learner is deviating from a particular path are some possible outcomes. Prescriptive analytics would identify personalized learning pathways, track progress, and provide feedback to ultimately improve timely graduations and employability. Combined with industry demand data, supply estimates could be provided and targeted courses created with intakes tweaked to meet estimated demand. What will it take to succeed?: Ultimately there are many stakeholders who will be involved in improving education. This includes academic institutions, state education departments, students, learning management systems (LMS) and MOOC providers, government social service agencies and corporations. In order to achieve their often–shared goals, particularly to improve graduation and employment rates, they'll need to come together to create an open platform for sharing this data and insights from the analytics."

(William LaFontaine, 2013, IBM Research)

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TAGS

2013 • Alabama State Education • analyticsBrazilCourseradata integration • demand for quality education • Desire2Learn • digital student records • e-learningeducationeducation and employment • education industry • education shortage • electronic health data • healthcareIBM • IBM Global Technology Outlook (GTO) • IBM Research • IndiaKhan Academy • learning management systems • LMSlongitudinal learning dataMassive Open Online CoursesMOOCsone-size-fits-all solution • outcomes and efficiency • patient records • patient-centric • personalised educationpersonalised healthcarepersonalised learning • personalised learning pathways • predictive analytics • prescriptive analytics • Qatar Supreme Education • study abroadUdacity

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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