AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Highlights from the 2019 IMAGINE: A Better World, A Global Education Conference

As students prepare to go back to school, over 1,000 students, educators, university presidents, college administrators, superintendents, and business leaders from 43 different countries met in Seattle, Washington, to discuss the opportunities in the world of education, and how AWS can be used to create innovative solutions. The conference revolved around three core themes: building the workforce of tomorrow, innovation and transformation, and the role of machine learning in education.

Read on for the major highlights from the event:

NOVA brings data science courses to the USMC with AWS Educate

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) announced they are developing a new course of study in collaboration with AWS Educate focused on “Data Intelligence,” consisting of: cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI). Read more.

First University-Based Cloud Innovation Center in Canada to Open in Early 2020

AWS announced the launch of a Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. Part of an ongoing relationship between AWS and UBC. The CIC will provide students, staff, and faculty access to cloud technology to advance research projects, while employing Amazon’s innovation processes. The CIC is the first of its kind in Canada. Read more.

Virginia Tech launches U.S. Cyber Range to support cybersecurity education nationwide

A Commonwealth of Virginia initiative is now expanding to meet the demand for cybersecurity education across the country. The Virginia Cyber Range will offer its cybersecurity education services to educators, industry, and others, through a new offering named the U.S. Cyber Range of Virginia Tech. David Raymond, Director of the Virginia Cyber Range, emphasized, “The cybersecurity problem is not a Virginia problem. It is a national problem, and we need a national solution.” Read more.

Pearson Announces New Alexa Skill at Imagine EDU

Pearson announced the launch of the Revel Alexa skill. Pearson Revel is a fully digital interactive learning experience that replaces the traditional textbook at an affordable price. Students can access the app anywhere, anytime, and on any device. The Revel Skill makes it possible for students to read, practice, and study in one continuous experience. “Revel allows students to learn and study on their own terms,” says Andrew Gilfillan, VP, Courseware Product Management. Read more.

Instructure Collaborates with AWS Educate to Integrate Cloud Computing Content into the Canvas LMS

Instructure is announcing a new offering in collaboration with AWS for Canvas Learning Management Platform users with AWS Educate, Amazon’s global initiative to provide students and educators with resources to build cloud skills, and ultimately, to help students land jobs. The integration provides students and teachers seamless registration with one-click access to AWS Educate. The offering includes tools for educators to help them design, build, and launch new courses and modules. This is available for all students in cloud computing and project-based learning environments, making grading fast and easy. Read more.

The Innovators Tier Launches in AWS EdStart

On Wednesday, AWS launched the Innovators Tier, a new feature of AWS EdStart designed to support the earliest stage EdTech startups. AWS EdStart Innovators Tier provides startups with resources and exposure to a large community of EdTech builders, leaders, and fellow entrepreneurs. EdTech startups who participate in the program will be granted AWS Promotional Credits that allow them to explore AWS technology and build the foundation for their solution. Learn more.

Driving K12 Innovation

We heard from Keith Krueger, CAE, CEO, CoSN for the Consortium for School Networking, and Mark Finstrom, Chief Technology Officer of Highline Schools, about the new Driving K12 Innovation series, which informs smart technology with teaching and learning at the center of the series. The reports identify roadblocks to education, accelerators in the field, and tools to enable innovation within a school’s environment. “Technology can close gaps, but if it isn’t used right, it can widen gaps,” said Krueger.

Students Speak Out About the Importance of Cloud Computing

Students from universities across the country spoke about their individual cloud journeys and the importance of cloud computing. Aditya Pachpande, a 12-year-old student from the Indus International School, India, talked about the future he envisions for cloud computing, “Give the power of innovation to every teacher and student in the world. These skills like innovation and creativity are essential to the future of the students. In the future, their jobs will be different. These skills will be needed, but AI won’t be able to do them…AI can’t develop itself.”

Reaching for the Cloud

Our keynote speaker, Richard Palmer, Analyst and Practice Leader for Public Sector at Ovum, discussed the findings from his whitepaper, “Reaching for the Cloud.” Palmer discussed the five things motivating a cloud journey: faster innovation, smarter and safer systems, data-driven insights, IT refocus, and optimized IT spending. Palmer advised that “rushing into tech transformation without training or support is a poor idea. Finding some help so that you can do it right the first time in the cloud is really important.” Read more.

Inspiring the Workforce of Tomorrow

Dolica Gopisetty, an Informational Technology student at George Mason University, told the audience about her journey to becoming a cloud and tech enthusiast. We also heard from Professor Amanda J. Broderick, Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of East London, who spoke about creating more diversity in the workforce and strengthening the diversity of the industry’s workforce.

“Stop thinking about learning as credits, start thinking about knowledge as a currency,” said Martin Bean CBE the Vice-Chancellor and President at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Bean presented the story of his institution and its use of micro-credentials, which give students a competitive edge in the job market.

D2L Goes All-in on AWS

D2L, a learning technology leader, is moving its hosting infrastructure to the world’s leading cloud, going all-in on AWS. D2L — through its pioneering learning management system (LMS), Brightspace — supports millions of learners in schools, businesses, and governments around the world. D2L uses more than 60 AWS services to power its product suite. D2L sites have more durability and stability on AWS compared to its traditional data center environment, due to AWS’s global reach and scale. D2L can also scale for peak periods without overprovisioning its technology resources to deal with spikes in demand, such as those that occur at the start of the school year. In fact, D2L is now equipped to handle a tripling of the load of a large client in less than 24 hours, something that would not have been possible with its previous environment using its on-premises data center. The company leveraged AWS’s Well-Architected Reviews and Cloud Adoption Framework—which are available to all AWS customers to provide guidance for successful builds—and expects to complete its migration to AWS by the end of 2019.

Announcing the Amazon Alexa EdTech Skills Challenge

AWS and SXSW EDU have announced the launch of the Amazon Alexa EdTech Skills Challenge, a new competition designed to find the best application of voice technology in education. Open to all U.S.-based education technology companies, this competition is an opportunity to build an Alexa skill that addresses education challenges and positively impacts students, faculty, administrators, or other education stakeholders. The deadline for applications is October 18, 2019. Six finalists will be invited to present their Alexa skill during the live event at the 2020 SXSW EDU Conference in Austin, Texas and one will be awarded the grand prize of $50,000 in AWS Promotional Credits! Visit alexasxswcontest.splashthat.com/ to apply.

Learn more about AWS for education.