Higher ed taps IBM’s cloud computing

Cloud computing could be a tool in raising college retention rates.

IBM’s latest cloud-based services could give university IT chiefs new ways to analyze student and institutional performance just months after a majority of higher-education respondents admitted confusion about what, exactly, cloud computing is.

The IBM SmartCloud for Education, announced by the company June 2, uses advanced predictive analysis software – known as SPSS – that would let campus IT officials identify at-risk students in real time, serving as a technological tool in battling decreasing retention rates in higher education.

The cloud computing program is also available for K-12 schools.

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IBM’s SmartCloud also comes with a social networking feature that connects colleges and universities scouring the web for grants and funding opportunities that have proven vital as administrators trim operating budgets during the economic downturn.

The predictive software helped one institution predict a student would drop out of his or her classes with 80 percent certainty using the cloud-based system’s “pre-defined, user-friendly, and web-based modeling,” according to an IBM release. The institution was not named in the release.

The University of Rhode Island’s (URI) College of Pharmacy is using IBM’s cloud service to plan and manage academic research requiring millions in government and private grants.

URI, for example, is running a $42 million federal biomedical science research program that required careful tracking and up-to-date analysis.

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