One major challenge facing most public schools these days is balancing the budget while still providing the technology tools that are required to educate students of the 21st century. This situation puts pressure on school administrators who need to find inexpensive – yet current – hardware and software to educate their technologically savvy students. These combined factors are pushing public schools towards an increase in the use of cloud computing.
So what does cloud computing specifically refer to in this instance? Basically, it means using hardware, software, and other services that reside on internet servers located outside of the school system. Some of the cloud apps and services being used more frequently in today’s public schools include: Google Apps, Google Docs, Gmail, and other cloud-based communication and productivity tools.
Why use the Cloud?
So what are the reasons that make the use of these and other cloud-based tools advantageous for public schools to move to the cloud? According to Microsoft, there are a plethora of reasons, which include the following:
- Cost-savings – Educational institutions can save on costs through bundled cloud pay-as-you-go packages that include hardware, services, and software, merged into one low-cost solution.
- Scalability – Schools can maximize the use of existing hardware structure, customizing and adding pieces as needed to integrate into existing infrastructures.
- Storage Space – Using the cloud, public schools have the ability to modify storage capacity as digital content needs increase or decrease.
- Flexibility – Cloud computing enables your school district to deliver more services to more people both quickly and effectively, and at reduced costs
Additionally, cloud computing provides students with access to the latest and greatest technology, helping them to improve their proficiencies in life and situations outside the classroom. And with most students already using similar technologies at home, the transition to cloud computing should be smooth and painless.
Cloud Computing in the Classroom
So now that some of the advantages to cloud computing in education have been discussed, what are some of the ways it can be integrated into classrooms? According to recent articles in Education Week and Public School Review, there are numerous ways that cloud computing can be used to enhance the classroom experience:
- It can be used as a convenient teaching tool for teachers and students alike. For example, iPads can be used portably for both student presentations and teacher lectures.
- Cloud portals can allow access outside the classroom for parents, students, and teachers for improved communications and access to a greater number of resources.
- The use of cloud servers provides a backup of student information, teacher grades, and saved homework, projects, and other resources, in the event of a disaster.
- Cloud sessions can merge data previously stored in several areas into one centralized access point – saving money, space, time, and other resources.
- Using cloud computing in public education can promote the transformation from Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) to Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), allowing for customization of the environment to meet the student’s specific needs.
- Cloud computing also encourages collaboration among faculty and students, providing common work spaces, increased processing power, and more storage space for all.
While keeping up with the latest technologies and developments in teaching methodologies and tools will continue to be a challenge facing public schools, cloud computing can help balance district needs for lowering expenses, while providing up-to-date applications and equipment for its faculty, students, and community.Tags: cloud services