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Education turns out for Google Cloud Next ‘23

Educators, researchers, IT professionals, student developers, and C-suite leaders showed up in full force in August for Google Cloud Next, our global showcase for the latest cloud technologies and success stories. They attended breakout sessions, product demos, and keynotes to explore the potential of new tools like generative AI and gain insights into how it is already transforming teaching, learning, and advanced research across the country. 

Gen AI offers particular benefits for the education community, which faces constant demands for speed and scale in their key missions of driving scientific breakthroughs and preparing the next generation for the workforce. It can generate cost efficiencies–the time to value for insights– for both research and operations. It can improve user experience for students, staff, and faculty. It can accelerate content development and customize large models to analyze the ever-growing mountains of data generated on campuses everywhere.

Here are some of the top takeaways from the education sessions and demos:

At Secure Your Organization with Zero Trust Controls and Google AI: IT leaders at the University of Notre Dame demonstrated how they used AI to gamify cybersecurity training for over a thousand students. By designing an interactive AI-based Google Wizarding College and a Cybersecurity Carnival they made security training fun and effective. “Security is everyone’s responsibility,” Chas Grundy, Director of IT Strategy and Transformation, says. “Google tools help us set defaults and automate controls to make that burden easier on students and admins.”

The panelists at Responsibly Driving Student Success with AI began by pointing to some of the challenges facing higher education today: the learning losses in math and reading since the pandemic and the overwhelming need to retrain tomorrow’s workforce in new skills. Lev Gonick, Enterprise Chief Information Officer at Arizona State University, believes AI has the potential to recruit and retain students who haven’t been served by traditional education. Virtual tutors and personalized learning can help the 40 million students with Some College, No Credential (SCNC) reach their career goals. COO Miguel Amigot II of IBL Education described how their gen AI-based mentors can provide a one-to-one learning experience to students and professionals looking for tailored skills development. In collaboration with professors, IBL Education builds AI-based modules that can help students with everything from time management skills to social interactions. Anant Agawral, founder of edX, already uses AI to translate edX’s 4,000 online courses into over a dozen languages. “That used to be expensive,” he says, “but now the translations are so fast and so good that we can just focus on distributing them efficiently.”

Google Customers Form Bio and Collegis Education are using AI to make research and student services more efficient. By analyzing how and when students, faculty, and staff interact with online services, Collegis can determine the best times and methods to reach each cohort. Form Bio builds AI into their scientific data platform to help researchers focus on their results. Making computational workflows user-friendly can save time and resources–and accelerate discoveries.

Framing the three-day conference were two special events for higher educational professionals: the Higher Education Innovation Board on August 28 and the San Francisco AI & Research Day event on August 31. These events brought together researchers, CIOs, and IT leaders from campuses across the country to discuss how they are serving their communities, modernizing their infrastructure, and transforming their organizations with the latest cloud tools.

Here are some of the key lessons learned at the higher ed events:

At the Higher Education Innovation Board event, Matt Gunkel, CIO of the University of California, Riverside (UCR), shared the story of how UCR is transforming their operations and services through a pioneering fixed-cost agreement with Google Cloud. Now in its second year, Gunkel could point to significant impact already: researchers are moving workflows to the cloud with HPC Toolkit and some are accelerating their data analysis from 24 hours to 15 minutes. Soon the team intends to deploy gen AI and BigQuery to analyze Student Information System, Learning Management System, and financial data for qualitative insights into student satisfaction.

At San Francisco’s Google Cloud AI & Research Day participants heard from Google experts and C-suite leaders about how Google Cloud technologies can facilitate collaboration, automate security and data governance, and make research and operations more efficient. They watched demos of how gen AI can sift through scientific literature to answer complex queries and generate laboratory protocol–or “ground” research citations in a customer-provided database. Stay tuned for upcoming AI & Research Days hosted at Google offices in other cities.

All the Google Cloud Next ‘23 recorded sessions are now available on-demand. Click here to start exploring the best of Next. To find out how you can get started with gen AI for higher education, sign up for an interactive half-day workshop with Google Cloud and partners Nuvalence and Carahsoft. Participants will work with experts in small groups to design a gen AI strategy package customized for their needs. To learn more about funding opportunities, check out the eligibility for cloud training and academic research credits.

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