AWS Public Sector Blog

Highlights from the 2018 IMAGINE: A Better World, A Global Education Conference

Timed with the 2018 back-to-school season, nearly 600 students, educators, university presidents, college administrators, superintendents, and business leaders from 14 different countries met in Seattle, Washington, to discuss how the cloud can address challenges and opportunities facing education. The conference revolved around three core themes: innovation and transformation, the role of machine learning in education, and building the workforce of tomorrow.

Alexa for All — Saint Louis University provides students with virtual assistants

To kick things off, Saint Louis University (SLU) announced that they are bringing Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, managed by Alexa for Business, into every student residence hall room and student apartment on campus. This fall, SLU will deploy more than 2,300 Amazon Echo Dots across campus and equip them with a private, SLU-specific skill.

CA Cloud brings cloud curriculum to students across LA

The California Cloud Workforce Project (“CA Cloud”), a consortium of 19 LA County community colleges and their sister high schools, announced they will offer a Cloud Computing Certificate beginning in Fall 2018. The CA Cloud curriculum was designed collaboratively by faculty at Santa Monica College and AWS Educate, with the support of subject matter experts from AWS and other LA-based tech companies to equip students with cloud skills needed for careers in the tech industry.

Vocareum virtual classrooms on AWS Educate

AWS Educate members now have access to new, expanded classroom features provided by educational cloud-lab environment provider, Vocareum. The new features allow teachers to conduct a virtual, centralized class, monitor student activity, and deliver real-time feedback.

Machine learning is impacting student engagement

We heard from Swami Sivasubramanian, VP Amazon Machine Learning, AWS, about why education is at the forefront of machine learning (ML) adoption. To get beyond the buzz, customers at Texas A&M University and the Educational Testing Service demystified ML, by discussing their applications for improving reading comprehension for K-12 students and addressing accessibility challenges for students with cognitive and learning disabilities.

New AHA badge on AWS Educate

We announced a new AWS Educate American Heart Association (AHA) badge focusing on the technology that powers AHA’s Precision Medicine Platform, a cloud-based tool that streamlines access to datasets, frameworks, and secure workspaces for research. AWS Educate students can begin exploring the new badge today.

The cloud is an equalizer for scaling services

Notre Dame University turned to the cloud to scale its website during visitor spikes surrounding university events. In the era of bring-your-own device and Google Chromebooks, the AWS Cloud can help create equitable learning experiences. We heard from Cornell University and Fife School District on how students of all ages can use design applications, business intelligence tools, technical programs, and even desktop games as part of their curriculum – without hardware constraints.

Presidents collaborate and dream big for students

The AWS Institute convened 22 university and community college presidents to discuss challenges related to the future of work, and share best practices to address those challenges. The roundtable discussion focused on the importance of partnerships with employers and innovative technologies higher education institutions can leverage to enhance student learning.

Institutions bring their ideas to reality

A number of higher education institutions shared their cloud innovation success stories. Arizona State University described how they deployed voice technology to create a smart campus. Cal Poly provided a working model for a Cloud Innovation Center, the Cal Poly DX Hub, where students apply cloud technology to real-world challenges in the public sector. Ivy Tech Community College shared a blueprint for using ML to predict student success with 83% accuracy, creating opportunities to identify students in jeopardy of failing and offer targeted remediation. Michael Horn, Co-Founder and Distinguished Fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, expanded on this this theme in the closing keynote on disruptive innovation.

Research efforts are accelerated and multiplied

With the AWS Cloud, university researchers can expedite research time and draw conclusions faster than ever before. To explain this shift, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shared how they are changing and enabling research with technology to gain efficiency, like decreasing processing time from over 260 days to just a few hours.

Our customers are building the workforce of tomorrow

We heard from keynote speaker Alice Steinglass, president of, on the under-representation of girls and students of color in K-12 computer science classes and the importance of creating a diverse workforce ready for the technical careers of the future. To dive deeper, we had conversations around the STEM skills gap, cultivating the talent pipeline, inclusive hiring practices, and global workforce readiness with AWS’s [We] Power Tech and customers like Northern Virginia Community College, Girls Computing League, Udacity, AI4ALL, Project Lead the Way, Hola Code, and more.

Learn more about AWS for education here.