Analytics, at the outset, sounds something very much aligned to serious business, something which helps businesses take informed and meaningful decisions in a multitude of ways after analysing tonnes of data.
But if applied in a host of other areas it can also do wonders. Take for example, education. Finding the aptitude of their children in the early years is a big challenge lest the child end up in the wrong stream. Most of the times, they end up taking decisions about their children’s future based on their assumptions, and gut feelings whereas the child in fact could have done better in something else. And suppose if a child is not doing well, they try to do every possible thing without really zeroing in on the real issue which if addressed could shape of his performance better.
IBM’s India Research lab is in the process of finding answers to most of these education-related problems with a more practical approach with the help of analytics' tools. Taking analogy from the healthcare sector, the lab is working on developing analytics based models which can predict the areas where a particular student can do better. It can also suggest the skill gaps that are required to be filled in order to enable that student to do better in certain areas.
IBM Research has already sourced digital data of students from various US schools to work on developing prescriptive and predictive analytics platforms which could a shot in the arm of parents and educational institutions.
“As a student go through courses, every test is recorded electronically (in fact, it is done in most of the US schools). With this kind of data, we can build models of students and cluster them to categories based on some analytics. So we can say, this student is similar to this cluster of people and predict how he can perform,” says Ramesh Gopinath, Director, IBM Research India and Chief Technologist, IBM India – South Asia.
This is a kind of predictive-analytics model which will be able to say how well a student is able to do. IBM’s India Research is also working on developing prescriptive analytics tools which after analyzing the track record of a student and based on his/her similarity with various clusters, the tool can prescribe the courses they need to undertake to do better or what all needs to be done to improve their performance.
“We call it 'education as healthcare hypotheses'. From an analogy point of view, in healthcare you have patients and doctors. In this case, patients are students and doctors are teachers. You have a learning problem which is similar to health problem, and the doctors usually prescribe you certain regimen based on the symptoms,” said Gopinath.
“We have a bunch of research that is going on right now to validate this hypothesis, and we will be able to build from there,” he added.
IBM Research lab is in India is also working on projects to use analytics to improve content management which can address the skill gaps of the students passing out of colleges and universities.
IBM started its Research Lab in India in 1998. Spread across two locations -- New Delhi and Bangalore – the lab employs around 200 researchers. Globally, IBM has 12 research labs worldwide including the Watson lab in New York, which is the hub of the company’s research activities. The company spends about $6 billion every year towards R&D, globally.