The ICT landscape in schools – just like the world at large – continues to change. Helping to drive this evolution is one of the most significant technological innovations of recent years: cloud computing. Put simply, cloud computing describes the delivery of on-demand computing resources and services, over the internet. Things like Dropbox, Google Docs, Facebook and ClassFlow.
But how relevant is cloud computing to the world of education?
Is there an IT crisis in our schools?
The path to long-term educational success relies on good teaching practices supported by good technology. Indeed, by incorporating real-world technology into lessons, teachers can help to keep pupils engaged and add extra value and relevance in ways that are both mentally stimulating and fun. For example, interactive displays and apps are being used to help students learn in ways which are relevant to them. Ultimately, educational technology is key to instilling deeper competencies, enhancing collaborative learning, and preparing pupils for long-term career success.
But, when it comes to the technology in schools, the impact that failing equipment is having cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, against a backdrop of enforced cost savings, it’s hard for schools to know how to make the best use of their available budget. Worryingly, this has led to fears that the use of education technology will decrease in some schools, and that the divide between richer and poorer areas could be exacerbated.
Cloud computing is helping schools to overcome edtech challenges
Cloud computing helps schools to make the best use of their ICT budget and work towards their strategic vision. Here’s how:
Cloud computing allows schools to reduce spending while providing access to the technology they need
One of the most compelling benefits of the cloud is that it gives access to the very best IT at an affordable price (often on a subscription basis). Also, cloud-based tools usually don’t require annual upgrade costs. Should something go wrong with the software, this will be fixed for you as part of your regular payment. As such, with the cloud, you can futureproof your IT investment, with free updates and less need to invest in new hardware.
The cloud supports more innovative teaching methods
The cloud isn’t just cost-effective, it also provides easy access to resources across numerous platforms. For example, with a cloud-enabled Promethean ActivPanel, teachers and students can access and interact with content, simultaneously write and draw, and connect mobile devices to mirror content and collaborate. Teachers can also wirelessly share their lessons and download and use their favourite apps.
Furthermore, by making technology accessible outside of the classroom, cloud computing represents significant opportunities for learning. For example, flipped learning can help teachers make the best use of face-to-face time with their students. Find out more about why flipped learning is so popular in schools.
The cloud also helps support BYOD initiatives in schools. By allowing children to bring their own smartphones, laptops, or tablets into lessons, this won’t just help you keep up with advancements in technology, but it also reduces the financial burden on your school. The cloud enables pupils to continue their learning outside of school, providing multiple entry points to the same information, notes and outputs.
Education in the cloud helps to create modern classrooms
The classroom of the future demands a more flexible approach to layout and design. The size and shape of a room, and the various teacher/student setups will enable a variety of learning scenarios. As such, it’s vital to consider the technology needed to make these spaces work. Learning and lesson platforms, Promethean ActivPanels, apps, mobile devices and other such tools are all supported by cloud computing, and can all be used to create the perfect mix of learning environments.
The cloud allows schools to keep up with the Internet of Things
Because of the Internet of Things (IoT), more and more aspects of our lives are becoming information-driven. This reliance on data is as real in the education sector as it is in the wider world. So, data storage is growing at an extraordinary rate. Without the cloud, scaling up could require a lot of extra hardware and software (which often comes at a substantial cost). But, if you store data in the cloud, you just scale up as needed; usually at minimal cost.
The cloud helps schools meet their data protection obligations
The more we store information in the cloud, the more people worry about cybercrime. But, despite what some people think, moving to the cloud doesn’t put your sensitive and personal information at any more risk. Indeed, today’s cloud providers invest heavily in security measures.
With the introduction of the GDPR placing data protection firmly in the spotlight, the cloud can help you to ensure compliance and avoid hefty fines and damage to your reputation. However, it is always a good idea to check what security measures cloud providers put in place and ensure they meet your requirements.
Cloud computing can help your school achieve its strategic vision
Today’s educational leaders recognise the role technology can play in helping them deliver their school strategy. For example, providing useful feedback to pupils is a goal for most schools, and the cloud facilitates the active participation of pupils via instant assessment, while allowing teachers to mark and collate responses in real-time.
Also, with the increased popularity of chat and messaging platforms – all powered by the cloud – feedback can be given immediately, regardless of location. This means both parties can get more out of the learning process.
Cloud computing is a hot topic, mainly because of its ability to enable new ways of working. And, the public cloud services market projected to total a whopping $186.4 billion this year (up from $153.5 billion in 2017). So it’s clear that more and more organisations are embracing the power of the cloud.
Taking the lead from the business world, schools must adopt a more strategic approach to ICT investment and invest in cloud technology if they want to address their current budgetary challenges. But more than this, cloud computing can also help schools to maximise investment, support their strategic visions, and prepare for what ever is around the corner.
Do you think that cloud computing is a wise investment? Should schools be spending more (or less) on technology? Have your say on Twitter – @PrometheanUKI