Education in the Cloud

More about what cloud computing is and does for teachers and students.

GUEST COLUMN | by David Dunlap

CREDIT SingleHopHow can the cloud help students and teachers be more effective in the classroom? Instead of storing information on a specific computer, the cloud stores information in a secure, networked system that can be accessed from anywhere. This gives students the ability to access documents from home, create redundant backups of documents and facilitate collaboration. Cloud computing is being leveraged to deliver a wide variety of apps, from Twitter to the Blackboard Educational Suite. Many university classes are using the cloud to educate students in increasingly creative ways. #RotoloClass at Syracuse University uses Twitter to collaborate with people across the globe in real-time, giving students a new way to learn and granting them unprecedented access to experts in the field.

Cloud computing is changing the way students and teachers collaborate and succeed inside and outside of the classroom.

As powerful as the cloud can be, it is also an exceedingly convenient way to store and access documents. Educators can share documents with an entire class in just a click, and multiple students can work simultaneously on a paper or presentation even though they may be on opposite ends of the earth. Saving documents to the cloud also gives students the piece of mind that a catastrophic hard drive failure (caused by an exuberant dance-move-induced beverage spill), won’t result in the loss of their prized thesis.

Students taking a full class load and teachers juggling hundreds of students can utilize the cloud to streamline time management. Calendars can be updated on one cloud-connected device, and the rest of your devices update simultaneously. Teachers can also send notifications to students containing class updates and important class documents via the cloud in real time.

The cloud can seem like magic at times, but is actually a complex network of servers housed in locations across the globe. Those servers can either be accessed by multiple users or “dedicated” to a certain user. The lingo can get confusing but the result is the same: the ability to access documents anywhere, anytime that students and teachers can use to further their education. If you are the techie type you can click here to learn about the “nuts and bolts” that hold the cloud together.

Universities are starting to use the cloud to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are innovative classes that allow students from around the world to enroll and participate in an open online classroom. The course materials are stored in the cloud and students use forums to communicate and collaborate to complete the class requirements. This allows increasing enrollment diversity and promotes the exchange of ideas between students of different countries and cultures. The cloud-based education system that MOOCs embody is starting to disrupt the traditional higher education system, offering an alternative learning environment to the physical classroom.

The connected classroom is not just being used in higher education either. Cloud computing is helping teachers in St. Cloud Cathedral High School continue to teach1, even when the weather turns ugly. Instead of losing a day of teaching during a snow day, teachers connect with students through the cloud to continue working on classwork. Some teachers even post videos of lectures that students can watch on laptops and iPads. While students may not always see this as a benefit of the cloud, teachers and administrators are able to use those otherwise lost snow days to educate students and fulfill the state mandate of 180 school days.

Cloud computing is changing the way students and teachers collaborate and succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Collaboration between educators around the world is easier than ever before now that documents can be stored remotely and accessed and shared instantly. Research universities can easily share papers with one another securely in the cloud, helping increase the free-flow of information and the spread new findings around the world.

The cloud has many broad uses, and education is currently capitalizing on the connected classroom to help students learn more effectively and share their own ideas with the broader education community. This connected approach of learning in the cloud has the potential to spread ideas from any educator to the students of the world. The cloud is currently a strong disruptive force that is changing the face of modern education.

Do you use any cloud based apps to facilitate your students’ education? Or maybe you have participated in a MOOC? We would love to hear your cloud-based education stories in the comments. Let us know how the cloud has changed education for you!

1 ​No More Snow Days: Technology Keeps Classes Going During Bad Weather

David Dunlap started in the web host industry as a freelance writer and marketing consultant in 1999. David is a prolific author of countless articles, blogs, commentaries, white papers, and reviews for 15 years. Having written for newspapers, print and online magazines in topics ranging from marketing to business economics to search engine optimization and web design, David presented the right characteristics to take up the mantle of SingleHop’s Director of Marketing.

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