IBM is looking to capture its fair share of the market for cloud services in the education sector, with the introduction of a series of offerings that allow institutions to perform advanced analytics on their operations.

The IBM SmartCloud for Education portfolio provides institutions with cloud-delivered predictive analytics to gain real-time insights into such areas as student retention, graduation rates, grant funding, and demands for IT resources and research.

“Cloud computing offers educational institutions the ability to transform learning processes to be more student-centered, as well as the potential to reduce costs through shared serves,” Michael King, vice president of IBM’s global education practice, said in a statement. “Our announcements lay the groundwork for institutions, systems, and states to begin creating these integrated cloud services for their constituents.”

IBM said one institution that piloted the analytics offerings found it could predict with 80% certainty whether a student was likely to drop out. The system uses pre-defined, web-based modeling to answer common questions about K-12 and higher education performance by analyzing insights gained from student data, faculty, and the community.

The offerings leverage IBM’s SPSS analytics technology.

In a related announcement, IBM said it has established a collaborative research effort with the University of Rhode Island to use cloud-based analytics and social networking tools to help researchers more easily find funding opportunities, identify collaborators around the world and to locate the latest published research in their fields.

The project with the university’s College of Pharmacy is aimed at helping academic researchers quickly find resources they need to better plan, manage and measure the progress of their research projects.

The system relies on IBM’s unstructured information management architecture – the same technology used in IBM’s Watson project, which showcased its abilities on the TV show Jeopardy.

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