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Talking about the cloud

Mick Slivecko

IBM’s slogan “Education for a Smarter Planet” is being applied to transform educational systems in Africa, especially in Tanzania, where the firm has signed a collaboration agreement for adopting information technology in education, research and development. IBM will be presenting at eLearning Africa on the new technology of cloud computing. Mick Slivecko, IBM Global Education & Learning Industry, and Christoph Schwaiger, IBM Global Technology Services, Austria, support solutions development for the African market.

Most people with a PC and Internet access use the cloud without ever knowing it. When sending an email or watching a YouTube clip, they remain blissfully unaware of the remote servers and the complex server architecture that delivers the service.

Christoph Schwaiger

Cloud computing gives people access to ICT without needing large local data centres. The diversities of cloud computing and its related services will be addressed in IBM’s presentations at eLearning Africa. Christoph Schwaiger, IBM Global Technology Services, Austria, will discuss cloud computing as a new delivery model with desktop and server cloud solutions sharing resources and consuming less energy. He works in IBM’s Global Services division for the Growth Markets Unit and specialises in new desktop delivery models using virtualisation technologies as part of the cloud services portfolio.

Mick Slivecko, IBM Global Education & Learning Industry, works with public sector leaders on academic, administrative and research solutions and aims to bring cloud computing into African education. eLA asked this passionate educational services manager to explain how IBM will realise their vision for modern education.

eLA: What is IBM’s vision of modern education in a globalised world?

Mick Slivecko: Leaders need to consider and establish new policies to transform their organisations in order to ensure better student performance, greater workforce flexibility and increased value to society. This transformation will occur across traditional boundaries; between academic segments, education and training providers and economic development groups. This continuum recognises five emerging “signposts” that directly impact the rate and direction of change in education. These signposts are technology immersion, personalised learning paths, knowledge skills, global integration and economic alignment.

But that is not all that needs to be considered in order to have a noticeable effect. Part of the vision needs to recognise that emerging technologies are enabling but  they also challenge the transformation of the educational continuum. Open technologies, cloud technology and consumer technology are all part of the educational continuum. We recommend the evaluation of several critical policies to allow the educational system to be transformed. For example, student-centric (as opposed to institution-centric) processes need to be established in order to deliver personalised learning that will improve quality and provide learning customisation and migration.

Open standards and open platforms in technology should be promoted, along with the consolidation of services and cloud delivery systems, in order to increase flexibility and lower costs. Last but not least, the transformation of educational systems can only take place with the cooperation and support of key stakeholders: Employers, families, agencies and non-governmental organisations must actively engage in this dialogue. Transformation necessitates collaboration and now is the time to act, in order to develop an ongoing vision and related policies that shape new processes and services and lead to better educational systems in a globalised world.

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