IBM has unveiled a new suite of technology solutions for schools based on its “eBusiness” model. Called “IBM Learning Village,” the new suite helps schools deliver information and applications via the internet.

IBM Learning Village was designed to create new ways to access learning and connect communities and parents to schools, the company said. It consists of a series of databases, interactive applications, templates, and communication tools housed in a workspace that can be accessed through any web browser. With these tools:

€ Teachers can develop online lessons that are standards-based and correlated to mandatory curriculum; create collections of online instructional resources (web URLs, audio, video and graphic files) that are linked to specific standards; and create their own web pages.

€ Parents can arrange private online conferences with their children’s teachers and access helpful information such as lunch menus and homework assignments.

€ Teachers, school board members, and community members can use date- and time-stamped discussion databases to discuss education and policy-related issues.

€ Teachers and administrators can communicate and collaborate on planning issues with each other and outside resources, such as university mentors or other community resources.

“Schools are in the business of educating children, and we’re interested in helping them to transform their systems so they can take advantage of the web to accomplish this,” said Sean C. Rush, general manager of IBM’s Global Education unit. “By integrating the internet’s simplicity and connections with the core applications that run today’s schools, IBM Learning Village–and the other components within the IBM at School portfolio–provide schools with the necessary technology and services to leverage the internet.”

Harlem Consolidated Schools District #122, headquartered in Machesney Park, Ill., is one of the first districts to implement IBM Learning Village. The district selected the eBusiness solution to give parents improved access to their children’s day-to-day school activities.

“We’re getting very positive feedback from all parties,” said Jean Harezlak, general director of programs for the district. “The students are excited because they’re able to share more of their school life with their parents by using IBM Learning Village from home,” she said.

About a third of the district’s 7,000 students have PCs with internet connections at their homes, and the district is also working with local libraries and the community center to provide computer access in public locations. Additionally, Harlem Consolidated keeps several school buildings open at night to give both students and the community access to computers.

IBM at School

IBM announced its Learning Village suite at the Discovery ’99 show in San Francisco, Calif. More than 500 school technology leaders gathered in San Francisco to attend sessions featuring model school programs and technology offerings by IBM and its partners, including The Learning Company, Lotus Development Corp., and Houghton Mifflin Interactive.

IBM revealed its Learning Village as the first component of a larger initiative called “IBM at School.” Other components of the initiative will include content and curriculum management; decision support and data warehousing; infrastructure and access through IBM ThinkPad notebook computers, servers, and other products; and consulting and professional development.

In addition to IBM’s education initiatives, speakers at the conference highlighted ways the company has sought to reach out to the school market by providing innovative funding opportunities to get students wired to the internet.

Anthony Amato, superintendent in Hartford, Conn., for example, spoke about his plan to give IBM ThinkPad laptop computers to every student in two underserved school districts in the city in a session entitled “Equity and Access.”

Amato was able to leverage money for the program from Title 1 funds, while area parents donated in the rest. He then persuaded parents–mostly from severely low-income households–to participate by giving them the computers at the end of the lease.


The Learning Company

Lotus Development Corp.

Houghton Mifflin Interactive

Harlem Consolidated Schools District #122