IBM Wins Smarter Education Project for Classroom Transformation of Georgia’s Largest School System

Gwinnett County Public Schools Awards IBM $28 Million to Realize and Accelerate Vision of eCLASS, a Digital Curriculum and Instruction Initiative

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ARMONK, N.Y. - 24 Sep 2013: IBM (NYSE:IBM) today announced a $27.9 million Smarter Education project with Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), the largest school system in Georgia. Demonstrating great trust and confidence in IBM’s technology and long standing partnership with the district, the Gwinnett County Board of Education unanimously approved the deal to realize and expedite the classroom transformation vision of eCLASS by naming IBM lead strategic technology partner and chief systems integrator for the initiative.

Located in the metro Atlanta area and serving close to 168,000 students in 132 educational facilities, GCPS has undergone enormous change over the past few decades, transforming from a rural school system to a large urban school district. Considered to be one of the largest and most significant transformational efforts in GCPS history, the digital Content, Learning, Assessment, and Support System (eCLASS) initiative aims to change the way teachers teach and students learn. The vision for eCLASS is that technology permeates the education of all learners, and digital tools expand the walls of the classroom, fostering collaboration and nurturing creativity and innovation in students and teachers.  

Once fully implemented, eCLASS will bring together curriculum and instructional resources, assessment, professional development, student information, and grading functions in one place, making it easier for teachers to access tools that will help them improve student learning and outcomes. As the chief systems integrator, IBM will oversee implementation of eCLASS into the existing GCPS technology infrastructure. 

“By expanding our relationship with IBM, the five-year plan for eCLASS went from being over six months behind to well ahead of schedule in just a few months of collaboration,” said Scott Futrell, Chief Information Officer, Gwinnett County Public Schools. “This fall we are launching pilots of the program in 33 schools in the Archer, Berkmar, Duluth, North Gwinnett, and Shiloh clusters, with dozens more slated to come online for the winter semester in January.” 

eCLASS aims to provide a ‘flexible classroom’ that will allow teachers to target instruction to accommodate student preferences, and provide learning both inside and outside of the classroom, with the goal of making education more engaging for every student. The initiative will include a 1:1 ratio of device per student, primarily through the use of student-owned devices. IBM will oversee the integration of mobile technology into the classrooms in a device agnostic way, driving creativity and flexibility in both learning and teaching. 

“Our intent is to better engage with and educate students in ‘the world they live in’ by incorporating digital content, games, videos, the internet, and other digital tools,” said Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. “With the vision of eCLASS now ahead of schedule to be realized, GCPS can serve as a model of how effectively integrating technology into learning can transform education and provide better opportunities for our students as they move onto college and into the workforce, thereby improving our regional and national competitiveness.” 

As the lead strategic technology partner for GCPS, IBM will continue to oversee the implementation of analytics and mobile capabilities, while delivering digital content via key industry instructional applications and the use of mobile devices. The main areas of focus for this initiative are teaching and learning; human capital management; student information; statistics and analytics; and communication and collaboration through enhanced portal access for employees, parents, and students. 

“Our collaboration with GCPS and key partners like Desire2Learn will align data and analytics to truly help teachers and students personalize the learning experience, helping to drive better outcomes,” said Michael D. King, Vice President, Global Education Industry at IBM. “IBM’s Smarter Planet and Smarter Education solutions are tailor-made for innovative ideas like eCLASS, and we are thrilled to expand our longstanding partnership with GCPS and help implement the eCLASS vision across the district. The resulting success will be something from which everyone could learn when it comes to transforming schools.”

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