Cloud computing is changing the way a lot of industries work. Education is no exception. We all know how online learning platforms like Kahn Academy and Coursera have brought education to people who otherwise wouldn’t have had access to it, but it can help traditional education in a number of important ways as well. In this post, we’ll look at 8 key ways that cloud computing is changing the way educators educate their students.
1. Saves Money
An educational institution has traditionally had to maintain their own hardware infrastructure for storing data. This is an expensive proposition because hardware costs are high. Additionally, IT staffing is expensive, and IT maintenance costs are no small chunk of change either.
Cloud computing allows schools to shift all of these resources onto someone else’s hardware, saving thousands in hardware costs and freeing up IT staff for other tasks.
On the software end, cloud-based software services are often cheaper than a site license and come with the added benefit of always being up to date. This again saves your IT staff the trouble and cost of having to keep software updates installed and the various dependencies and conflicts in check.
2. Minimal Hardware Requirements for Students
Having software that operates in the cloud brings us to the next benefit. Cloud computing leverages the power of the provider’s computers, allowing the user to run the software on even the most basic of devices. Many cloud computer software solutions can be run on devices as simple as mobile phones. For interfaces where mobile phones are not practical, students can get by with any inexpensive computer that can run a web browser and access the internet. This not only minimizes the costs to the students, as we’ve already discussed above, but reduces the risk they’ll buy something that ends up not being compatible with their educational needs at some point down the road.
3. Reaches More Students
When all educational materials are accessible online, and the power of tools like videoconferencing are enabled, physical distance means nothing. Cloud computing allows educational institutions to reach more students than ever before, because their pool of potential learners now spans the entire globe. Distance learning has already gone from shady ads in the back of magazines to a valid way to get a degree in many
As cloud computing and expanding internet infrastructure allows us to do even more remotely, online learning will no doubt be a big driver for educational opportunity in the future.
4. Increases Scalability
Scalability is the ability of hardware and software to match a growing user base. Having more students has traditionally meant having more IT headaches as they required more hardware and software to effectively manage and educate. Much like the day-to-day grind of IT maintenance, cloud computing takes away the needs for you to handle scalability issues on your own. As your needs grow, or shrink, the resources made available to you from cloud vendors will grow and shrink as well. This is a great benefit considering how many more students online learning will allow for.
5. Enables Better Collaboration
Ordinarily, you’d have different sets of data made available to different types of students all running on different computers in physical locations. A good cloud based collaboration program can bring all of that data into a common virtual location accessible by student with a computer and the credentials to access it.
Many cloud solutions also have additional tools to make collaboration even easier. Features such as to-do lists, easy task assignments, and the ability to comment and remark on ongoing tasks mean that teachers, administrators, and students will all be able to work together on issues they have a vested interest in much more effectively than they could using traditional technologies.
6. Allows for More Modern Textbooks
In today’s rapidly changing world, textbooks are often out of date shortly after they are printed. This is especially true for subjects related to technology. Without the expense of printing and the distribution complications that come with it, online textbooks can be updated regularly, ensuring that faculty doesn’t have to continually be on the lookout for new editions or entirely new textbooks that cover information the old ones have been left behind on.
7. Backs Up Data
Data loss is still a big problem in any industry. Even when you have backups, physical damage to a building can cause them all to be lost. Cloud computing keeps multiple copies of your data in server locations spread out over a large area. This means the chance that you’ll lose all of your data due to hardware failure, freak accident, or human error are reduced to nearly zero.
8. Increases Data Security
Loss of data isn’t the only threat. Threats to data security are only increasing and staying on top of all the ways that malicious software can compromise your systems is a full-time job. With cloud computing, that job is offloaded to the vendors who are providing the service.
Since most cloud computing platforms are hosted by some of the largest and most professional names in the industry, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, you’ll know that you won’t be facing any security breaches because someone forgot to install a web server patch.
Cloud computing can already make day-to-day operations a lot easier for educators, and the power that it brings to improve learner outcomes is only going to improve. This list contains a lot of the big items that apply broadly across all educational facilities, but there may be many others that are unique to any given operation.
If you’d like to know more about the power of cloud computing, reach out to us.