Technology

Digital education platform offered for free by IBM

IBM Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty said the free digital education platform will help prepare students for the workplace of the future.
IBM Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty said the free digital education platform will help prepare students for the workplace of the future.

IBM believes the digital era should be an inclusive one. To make sure students all over the world will be equipped with the right digital skills for the future, the tech giant has launched a free digital education platform called Open P-TECH. It is now available to students and teachers worldwide, who can register at the site.

“I’ve always believed that IBM is a builder of technology. It’s our job to also prepare society to interact with that technology. That’s responsible stewardship,” said IBM Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty in her session at the Think Digital conference.

Knowledge as currency

will.i.am says we have to inspire children in poor neighborhoods so they will understand the real value of education. Image credit: Think Digital
will.i.am says we have to inspire children in poor neighborhoods so they will understand the real value of education. Image credit: Think Digital

Rometty talked about Open P-Tech in this session with musician, businessman, and philanthropist will.i.am. They discussed the future of education, skills development, and the digital workforce in the post-pandemic world.

will.i.am is the founder and CEO of AI company i.am+. He and Rometty discussed the need to view knowledge as currency. Sharing his experiences while growing up in a poor neighborhood, he said he found a way out through education. He set up his foundation because he wanted to give other poor kids a chance.

“So, a lot of times when you have kids in the hood, what’s an A when they’re dealing with crime, when they’re dealing with drugs, when they’re dealing with peer pressure? What’s an A? What is an A going to do for me right now when there’s drug dealers telling me to do something for them and I can get $5,000 right now? So, what do you tell a kid? You have to entice a kid, inspire a kid, you have to bring mentors to the table to let them know the value of an A,” will.i.am said.

To make sure students are equipped for the workplace, it is not enough for society to invest only in technology. It must also make sure children are getting the right kind of education.

Investing in human intelligence

“It’s interesting to me that as much as on one hand you talk about the technologies, there’s something else I’ve heard you say I wanted you to expand on… I’ve heard you talk about the risk of over-investing in artificial intelligence and technology and under-investing in human intelligence,” Rometty said.

“Yes, so I’ve been saying that for the past six years, because in the past six years I’ve had my artificial intelligence company and we raised around, you know… over the course of six years, 170 million bucks. And over the course of 11… 10 years of my foundation, we raised around $11 million. And so, I started weighing those things like, wow, to make a computer smart, to create algorithms, to make a machine smart, look how much you can raise. To make humans smart, wow, we’re kind of struggling,” will.i.am said.

Open P-TECH is part of IBM’s commitment to invest in human intelligence. This free digital education platform equips 14- to 20-year-old learners with foundational technology competencies.

Learning relevant digital skills

So what makes Open P-TECH different from other digital education platforms? It emphasizes training in highly valued technologies and professional skills. These include AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and design thinking. It offers content in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

The platform builds upon the P-TECH (Pathways to Technology Early College High School) model that IBM launched in 2011. Since then, 220 schools across 24 countries have adopted the model, with over 150,000 students and 600 corporate partners.

Open P-TECH scales the most essential workplace preparation elements of the P-TECH program, making them available to more students.

“With the pandemic around us, it is going to accelerate not only a digital transformation, but I believe a world of have and have nots. Meaning, if you have the skills to succeed,” Rometty said.

The benefits of digital transformation should be available to everyone. Now, students all over the world have the chance to get the right skills for success.