How the Cloud Will Change Education

Cloud computing continues to appeal to educational institutions like universities, high schools and kindergartens. Not only do teachers depend on cloud services, such as Blackboard and Moodle to construct and manage courses and assignments online, but students love these services, too, because they can access study guides, homework and other educational tools online. And they don’t have to be home to access them, either. Any web connection will do.

Recently, I stumbled across a great cloud/educational blog that presented a few ideas on how cloud usage will reshape education and school management. Cloud tools will:

  • Pare software expenses, as many cloud-based apps are free, very low cost or only charge on a pay-for-use basis. Perhaps some schools will pass on these savings to students – in the form of tuition discounts? Nah!
  • Allow school-based IT staff to be more strategic, as fewer apps to be hosted and managed internally means that IT pros can concentrate on local infrastructure needs or even devote more time to planning for meeting the future computing needs of their institutions.
  • Provide round-the-clock access. It used to be that when you finished school for the day and you left your history homework in your locker, you were assured detention the next day because you couldn’t do your homework. Now staff and students are requiring 24/7 access to their files, applications and social connections – any time, any place, any device. Cloud computing provides a powerful way to do this.
  • Reduce/eliminate the need to update software, as cloud-based apps take care of this automatically.
  • Allow for greater experimentation, choice and agility for applications. Cloud-based services and applications can provide for more nimble use and access – and allow for lots of smaller products and services to be ‘tried out’ without the requirement of a large-scale commitment.
  • Reduce barriers to participation, contribution, sharing. The management of identities and access – a complicated task at best – can be done more readily in a cloud-based environment. That will promote greater degrees of shared access across and among systems and applications. How? Apps will allow for greater participation and contribution from students and teachers because individual accounts can be established and managed more easily. Plus, the content that is created and shared in this way can be stored, managed and retrieved across an entire network.
  • Promote relevant, accurate educational tools. Schools want high-quality tools that support teaching and learning. But it’s often difficult to keep up to date and relevant. Cloud computing options provide unlimited opportunities for shared repositories to develop, with access rights and management issues addressed on a wider scale than within an individual school.

Schools advancing toward greater usage of clouds can also depend on monitoring systems to alert them to problems with access or slow app performance. Monitis, for example, helps a growing number of educational institutions monitor their cloud apps via such features as:

  • instant failure alerts
  • cloud monitoring (to provide information such as number of instances)
  • cloud storage monitoring

transaction monitoring of your site (including tracking the load time for each of your pages).