Close the skills gap at IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016

My IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016 conference experience kicked off a day early thanks to the Watson-powered registration app, which recommended that I attend sessions at an additional conference event—the Evolving Education with Cognitive and Data Sciences workshop. Earlier this year, I began teaching in the UC Irvine corporate extension program, so Watson predicted this workshop as a good fit. And Watson was right—among the hundreds in the audience were many educators, myself included.

Building a generation of data scientists

As part of its ongoing engagement with educators, IBM is reaching out to university faculty members in hopes of increasing the number of data-savvy students entering the workforce. Notably, IBM is making IBM Watson Analytics readily available to universities at no cost. More than 500 universities have participated in this program during just the past 18 months.

To further encourage student engagement in data science, IBM held a worldwide competition that culminated in an award ceremony at the workshop in which a team from Australia’s Deakin University was announced the winner. Students from Deakin were in attendance, as were teams from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and Canada’s Dalhousie University. Some of the entrants, including the Dalhousie team, have made their submission videos available on YouTube. Reflecting on their level of innovation, Randy Messina, who presented the award, expressed his anticipation for the 2017 competition considering that Watson Analytics, being a software-as-a-service solution, undergoes constant enhancement. opportunities for learning

Big Data University (BDU) offers instruction in data science at no cost, explicitly encouraging universities to incorporate its content with university content when building data science curricula. BDU offers a wide range of videos on its YouTube channel, but enrolling in a class is so easy that you might as well register for your chance to earn badges as well.

BDU courses are organized around several paths, including big data, data science, Scala, Spark and Hadoop. I’ve already taken a look at Glen R. J. Mules’s Big Data 101 and found the courses to be well organized and clear. It doesn’t seem that long since Big Data University was announced, but already its offerings are extensive, encompassing even books and downloads.

But BDU is only the beginning. I had heard already about the IBM Academic Initiative, but now that I’ve met members of the team, I’ll be spreading the word wherever I go. Its free offerings are extensive, with even more offerings available at very reasonable rates—SPSS Statistics, for example, is available to students and faculty at only a nominal cost. I was particularly excited to learn that IBM SPSS courseware is available through this venue—faculty members who want to use SPSS software in the classroom will know firsthand how difficult finding good courseware can be.

If you’ll be attending IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016, then be sure to check in with the IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub for daily blogging about IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016, and remember to follow @KMcCormickBlog for live tweeting from Las Vegas. Take a look at my books, the IBM SPSS Modeler Cookbook and SPSS Statistics for Dummies. Also, to learn more about predictive analytics and statistical analysis, be sure to check out our informational IBM Analytics resource page. I hope to see you here!

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