IBM Watson Education and Pearson to Drive Cognitive Learning Experiences for College Students


LAS VEGAS - 25 OCT 2016: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Pearson (FTSE: PSON) today announced a new global education partnership to make Watson’s cognitive capabilities available to millions of college students and professors.

Combining IBM's cognitive capabilities with Pearson's digital learning products will give students a more immersive learning experience with their college courses, and an easy way to get help and insights when they need it, all through asking questions in natural language just like they would with another student or professor. Importantly, it provides instructors with insights about how well students are learning, allowing them to better manage the entire course and flag students who need additional help.

For example, a student experiencing difficulty while studying for a biology course can query Watson, which is embedded in the Pearson courseware. Serving as a digital tutor, Watson will assess the student's responses to guide them with hints, feedback, explanations and identify common misconceptions, working with the student at their pace until the topic is mastered.

"With Watson and this incredible collaboration with Pearson, we are changing the way college students learn. The idea of having a built-in study partner to help tackle the challenging questions college students get stuck on is amazing," said Harriet Green, General Manager, Watson IoT, Cognitive Engagement & Education. "Our goal is for college students to feel empowered, improve study performance and assist educators with breakthrough academic content."

"Digital learning opens up exciting new possibilities to improve access and outcomes in education. Our partnership will use the power of Watson to help students stay engaged and deepen their learning, complete their degree and be better equipped for their careers," said Tim Bozik, President of Global Product at Pearson. “Teachers are the most important factor in delivering a great education. The partnership will support teachers by providing better digital tools and enabling personalized learning for their students.”

The IBM Watson-Pearson collaboration aims to address the challenges students face as they balance busy work and course schedules with the demands of higher education learning. More than 60 percent of all job openings by 2018 are predicted to require some college education, but 40% of students in four-year public universities don’t complete their courses on time, and many of these don’t complete at all.

This is creating a need for a flexible virtual tutor that college students can access when they need it. With the combination of Watson and Pearson, students will be able to get the specific help they need in real time, ask questions and be able to recognize areas in which they still need help from an instructor. This always-available approach to tutoring may be the difference between a student successfully completing a required course or dropping out.

Pearson and IBM are innovating with Watson APIs, education-specific diagnostics and remediation capabilities. Watson will be able to search through an expanded set of education resources to retrieve relevant information to answer student questions, show how the new knowledge they gain relates to their own existing knowledge and, finally, ask them questions to check their understanding.

“I like the accessibility, mastery, reading and learning part of it. I can’t be available 24 hours a day,” said Professor Sherry Grosso, Economics, University of South Carolina, Sumter.

“To think that when I’m reading, I could just say, ‘Watson, can you explain this to me a little bit more?’ that would be great. It would be nice to know that it’s there,” said Shadi Rum, a Saint Petersburg College student and aspiring nurse.

The idea of adaptive learning systems delivering personalized education has been around for a long time. The current systems, however, use measures such as multiple choice and fill in the blanks questions that offer only a partial view of a student's understanding. Through conversation and the use of natural language, the Watson-based adaptive learning technology will help students gain a better understanding of the subject material.

Pearson currently reaches 75 million students of all ages around the world across its full range of services including books, software, English language teaching, assessment and qualifications and online learning. In the US College sector, Pearson reaches 13 million students per year with digital tools and content.

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About IBM Watson Education

IBM Watson Education is transforming education worldwide with cognitive computing putting the learner in the forefront. The power of Watson cognitive computing can ingest volumes of information from text, audio or video and organize it in a way that becomes easily personalized to each learner’s needs and aptitude. IBM Watson Education solutions are aimed at improving a student's performance and empowering educators to personalize education for every type of student from pre-kindergarten, K-12, higher education and adult and lifelong learning. For more information about IBM Watson Education, please visit:

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s learning company, with expertise in educational courseware and assessment, and a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology. Our mission is to help people make progress through access to better learning. We believe that learning opens up opportunities, creating fulfilling careers and better lives. For more, visit

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