Alex Kaplan of IBM compared the prospect of its planned “Student Achievement App” to the excitement people get when Netflix recommends a new movie.
“The idea here is we want to stimulate adoption,” Kaplan told the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees on Monday. “We want teachers to want to log on every morning. We want to change their work in such a way that they’re excited to log on and see what’s changed, what’s different … we want that sort of rush of excitement.”
Kaplan, along with officials at IBM and Apple, presented the Coppell ISD an opportunity to be one of four school districts in the country to partner with them on its proposed “Student Achievement App.”
The app would use technology and data analytics to be a predictive model for teaching and student success.
Kaplan, who worsk in global services for IBM, said IBM and Apple joined forces around a year ago with the goal to “transform the workplace” by combing their expertise in technology and data.
He said those talks then spurred discussions on how technology that is already being used could be molded for education.
“We’re not satisfied with the way technology is being used in education today,” Kaplan said. “We think there is more to be done.”
Kaplan said the focus of IBM and Apple is to create new businesses values, power teachers with analytics, design the app to be mobile and “unleash empowered employees.”
He also said Apple and IBM focused on the idea of the “individual enterprise,” which was described as combing parts of a teachers daily tasks into one place – the app.
Kaplan said there has been dialogue between the district, IBM and Apple for several months.
“It’s the experience of bringing together phenomenal teachers, principals and administrators with great user experience people and great data scientists that will allow us to get to heart and transform what’s going on in the classroom,” Kaplan said.
He said the goal is for teachers to use the app and the data it provides to make real-time decisions on students and their grades.
He noted Apple and IBM are on an “aggressive development cycle” in the development of the app. Jeff Douglas, offering lead and IBM analytics for education, said the goal is to possibly have a prototype available within two to three months.
The app will only by available for Apple products. Kaplan said they are hopeful the first version will be available by the late fall of 2015.
Kaplan said the companies will look to see what is meaningful to teachers and how and what they will use the app for. He also said professional development will be available, but he wants to teachers to learn the app by using it.
The app will also be available around the world, Kaplan said.
“No matter where you go in the world it’s about great teachers working with great kids, and it’s the same problem everywhere,” Kaplan said. “Everyone is struggling with the issue, and they’re looking for leadership.”
Douglas said IBM and Apple will work with the district in rolling out the app, which can be altered depending on grade level, accessibility and subjects being taught.
The app is projected to be used at Lee Elementary, Coppell Middle School North and New Tech High School in both math and science. The technology could be ready for the start of the second semester of 2016.
Kaplan said it is vital that people are excited about using the app and that the company is working with a base client that are receptive to technology in the classroom.
Kaplan, however, said there are yet to be any costs associated with the app and its development. He told the board that IBM and Apple “want to encourage you to take the risk.”
“There are definitely some unknowns,” he said.
The three other school districts discussing the partnership are located in Texas, South Carolina and Maryland.