It’s interesting today to analyze the role technology plays in our educational system. It’s an interesting concept, because by nature it changes at a very fast pace and is accessible in most situations. So what is the future?
The future is about expanding access, anywhere-learning and collaboration, both locally and globally. Teaching and learning are going to be more social. But for millions of students across the world, the future of technology in education is the cloud.
Cloud computing has the potential to change how the educational system works, not only in traditional classrooms, but for online courses as well. While it’s apparent that mobility and flexibility offered by tablets enhance learning, many teachers and educators may still be unclear on what computing in the cloud really means.
Here are five surprising ways cloud computing is changing education:
- Stop paying for expensive textbooks: It’s no surprise that college textbooks are ridiculously expensive, so it’s no wonder students refuse to buy them or seek other alternatives. With cloud-based technology, cloud-based textbooks can solve this problem, since digital content is significantly less expensive than printed content. This levels the playing field so that lower-income students can have the same access to quality learning materials as their higher-income counterparts.
- No more outdated learning materials: The problem with physical textbooks is that the materials students use become quickly outdated, so come every new school semester, students are challenged with finding a current edition. With cutbacks in school budgets, many districts, especially in less affluent areas, simply can’t afford to replace these outdated resources. Cloud-based materials are easy to update in real time so that students always have access to the most up-to-date learning resources.
- No expensive hardware required: Schools are always strapped for money and have outdated computers on-site, but with a virtual environment, they can use old hardware with the latest and greatest applications and environments. Cloud-based applications can be run on Internet browsers and most are compatible with mobile devices as well. This means that schools and students do not necessarily need to own expensive computers.
- No expensive software required: Universities that are still running Microsoft Office 2010 and Office 2013 could cut those exhausting costs in half without having to update every single device with the latest version of software. With a virtual environment, deploying a new update is literally as easy as clicking a button. The sheer number of man-hours these updates reduce for a university is massive, especially if it has a few thousand devices. What about deploying new software? Same principal. It’s so simple to deploy software to a large number of users all at once. It can be done overnight – the user wakes up with new software on their device without having to have the IT guy come by to upload the new information.
- Security and Recovery: The cloud is a secure way to store educational applications, as well as student and teacher content. The data is virtually stored and backed up in the cloud, so in case there is a network crash or crisis, files won’t be lost. In addition, your data, content, information, and images, or anything you store in the cloud that usually requires login credentials (ID and password, for example), is not easily accessible by anyone else.
In these ways, cloud computing is not only reducing overhead costs, but it is also creating an environment where all students can have access to high-quality education and resources. It is the best way to respond to the increasing demands coming from all sides while also dealing with declining budgets and resources. It accommodates the current dependency on technology and helps bring education into the future.