So IBM does get Academia

You may remember than a couple of weeks ago, I posted about Atlassian’s great programme for higher education, their ‘classroom option’.

At the time, I lamented that IBM did not have something similar, and concluded with:

So, IBM, here’s the gauntlet thrown down… By the time we discuss this at Lotusphere 2011, how about we have something equally appealing, easy to understand and navigable for institutions that want to learn Lotus software?

Unfortunately I didn’t get any response from IBM folks at all, certainly no suggestion that there was such a solution from IBM.

Then Darren Duke and I had a couple of great folks from universities on episode 31 of This Week in Lotus last Thursday, and one of our guests (John Gallagher from City University, London) mentioned IBM’s Academic Initiative.  Neither Darren nor I had heard of this before, so I went looking, and here’s what turned up:

IBM Academic Initiative

So IBM already has a program for universities, featuring:

no-charge access to hardware, full-version software, professionally developed courseware, tools, training, books, and discounts.

It is free of charge and is open to as many members of an institution as wish to join.  It is open to any institution that can be defined by one of the following:

  • University or college that offers education leading to nationally-recognized qualifications or levels of academic achievement, and that is accredited by a regional or national accrediting council, commission, appropriate government agency, or board of education of the state or country in which the educational institution is located.
  • Teaching hospital associated with an accredited institution.
  • Research institution or consortia comprised of accredited institutions.
  • Primary, elementary or secondary school, funded either publicly or privately, in which education is the principal objective leading to nationally-recognized qualifications or levels of academic achievement, and that is accredited by national or regional councils or agencies to deliver education.

Now this is IBM, so its not as simple and straightforward as Atlassian’s program, but it does look open, easy to understand, and above all, is full of value for academic institutions.  Here are IBM’s top 10 reasons to join the program:

Academic Initiative members enjoy many benefits and discounts while building collaborative partnerships with IBM and other institutions in the open source community. Membership is open to faculty and research professionals at accredited institutions, and to qualifying members of standards organizations.
1.        Get thousands of software products at no charge
You can download full versions of IBM products and technologies and make them available to your students in your classes and labs.

2.        Download industry-proven courseware
No need to start from scratch. Download professionally developed materials to teach a wide range of information technology (IT) and business topics.

3.        Advance your technical knowledge
The Virtual Innovation Center (VIC) has more than 800 online courses and materials supporting a wide range of software, hardware and services topics— and you can access them 24/7.

4.        Teach Business Process Management with the INNOV8 game
Hundreds of schools around the world are using this award-winning, serious game to teaching Business Process Management in their classrooms.

5.        Establish your own virtual enterprise systems
No need to install and maintain an IBM mainframe system or mid-range system. You can request virtual access for yourself and your students to an IBM System z or to IBM Power Systems.

6.        Become a leader in Service Science, Management & Engineering (SSME)
SSME is a growing multi-disciplinary research and academic effort. Use these resources to develop a program at your school and ensure that your students will have “T-shaped” skills.

7.        Learn all about cloud computing
Get involved in the “next big thing” – cloud computing. Cloud Computing Central is an excellent collection of resources for learning about and working with technologies in a virtual environment.

8.        Encourage students to explore, compete, and get certified
Our contests can help students go beyond the classroom to expand their knowledge, as well as their wardrobes. Many games offer a t-shirt to the first registrants! You can get also get a 50% discount for your students on many IBM Professional Certification tests.

9.        Be a conduit to student employment
You can give your students access to the IBM Student Opportunity System resume database and they can post their CV for IBM customers and business partners (thousands of companies around the world) to view. This can be as important as a good grade. If they get hired, they will love you.

10.        Join My developerWorks and connect with others around the globe
Create your own personal profile and custom home page to get instant access to the people, feeds, tags, bookmarks, blogs, groups, and forums that you care about.

For number 1 on the list, downloading software at no charge, this is what it says:

All software downloads are available to members at no charge. The Software Catalog contains products from each IBM software brand: Information Management (including Cognos), Lotus, Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere (including ILOG). You can use them to teach about database management, team collaboration, software development, systems performance and management, Web services, and many other technologies.

So any IBM software product is available for download for teaching purposes, for free.  How cool is that?!

Now of course, Universities have other needs, such as software for ‘production’ use, such as for email and collaboration.  These are still areas where companies like Google are leading the way.  However, for studying computer science etc, the Academic Initiative really does provide a great step forward.

So here’s the question… Why does nobody know about it????

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!