No more pencils, no more books: Cloud benefits in education

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We are living in a golden age of technology. In fact, some experts predict we are on the cusp of changes whose outcomes would rival those of the industrial revolution. If this is true, why is school basically the same as it was 50 years ago? Sure, kids have computers and access to learning software, but essentially, the song is the same. Go to class, watch teacher, do work, complete curriculum, summer, repeat. Not great for an institution whose job it is to pump out the world’s next innovators. But some evidence suggests that cloud computing is slowly changing all of that.

According to a survey from CDW-Government, cloud computing (specifically on storage) is expected to eat up 25% of IT budgets within schools teaching K-12 within the next year. That figure goes up to 35% over four years. And though 25% of a small budget isn’t enough to adequately educate a human, bringing the cloud into education is a great chance for education to begin the overdue process of reinventing itself.

Cloud perks for teachers (and you didn’t think there was such a thing)

Being on the cloud means teachers spend less time doing the stuff that ain’t teaching like photocopying, collating and handing out physical paper. Paperless worksheets, tests and study materials also allow teachers to easily see when students have accessed and completed assignments and receive real-time info about who needs help, who gets it and who is being kinda lazy.

Lessons, labs and student information are easily shared among faculty and stored in a secure place. All documents and materials can be stored safely on the cloud, accessed at anytime from anywhere. You could even teach on a snow day. Teachers can travel light and ditch the myriad of thumb drives, CDs, files, laptops and papers (this is still happening, people) once used to deliver lessons.

(More time – stress) + streamlined workflow = decreased teacher stress, turnover and sick days.

Perks for administrators

Administrators care about saving money. And who can blame them? The financial crisis, decreased funding and increased need for security (on all fronts) have administrators and school boards under tremendous pressure to produce world-class brains for the cost of a Happy Meal. 

The cloud can save major dollars by reducing overhead and maintenance costs on equipment like photocopiers, printers, ink and paper. Schools can also repurpose spaces normally set aside to store lessons, procedures and student and staff documents. Just imagine a school with a meditation room or bully-free space. This may not seem like much, but multiplied by an entire school district, it adds up.

Perks for students

The cloud simply cannot replace a good teacher. Most of us can easily recall an educator that really made a difference. The spirit and lessons of a good teacher can stay with us throughout our lifetime and motivate us to inspire others around us. So if the cloud can save teachers time and help them connect with students’ at critical moments (thanks, real-time analytics) doesn’t that mean more teachers will have the time and energy to be great? 

When students aren’t engaging with their teachers, the cloud allows them to create student work and collaboration groups to strengthen learning through interactive online tools. The group can craft and store information to share with others in their class, presenting the information in ways that make sense to them. 

Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about?