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IBM Launches Academic Cloud

IBM will be opening up its software portfolio online to academia to enable faculty to incorporate technology into their curricula. The company said it's working with 20 United States colleges and universities to help them use a new "academic skills cloud" that includes both software and courseware. IBM said it expects to add additional schools over time. The cloud allows people in higher education to use IBM software at no charge without having to install and maintain it on their respective university's computers.

The latest decision builds on the IBM Cloud Academy program for educational institutions, announced in November 2009. The new Academic Skills Cloud provides professors with access to cloud computing resources specifically for workforce skills development. The idea is to provide access to IT curricula and courses online from anywhere to enable faculty to help students learn current technology skills, such as software development and practical use of information management, Web 2.0, and cloud computing and how they can be applied for decision-making.

The initiative will let instructors integrate new IT courses in their curriculum, regardless of subject taught; more easily facilitate group and long-distance learning programs for students; and free up existing university technology infrastructure resources, since the materials are hosted online.

"The ability to apply technology will be essential to differentiate our graduates as they prepare to enter the work force," said Jeff Rice, executive director of career management at Ohio State's Fisher College of Business. "Fisher College has established multiple research centers where faculty, students, and business leaders can collaborate on contemporary business issues. Several of these centers focus on implementing technologies to improve business processes or commercializing new technologies. The convergence of faculty, students, and business in such educational environments is a winning formula for both higher education and the global economy."

"Sharp is looking to hire college students who can apply technical skills across all aspects of our business," said Stewart Mitchell, senior vice president and chief strategist for electronics manufacturer, Sharp. "These skills are critical to our competitiveness, and we share IBM's commitment of collaborating with academia to help prepare the future workforce."

The first wave of academics using the skills cloud will be able to teach technology skills based on the IBM Rational portfolio of products, WebSphere, DB2, and Informix. The company said it plans to add additional software over time, including Cognos, Lotus, and Tivoli.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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