Cloud computing has fundamentally changed the landscape of countless industries. Even the education sector has felt the effects of the cloud. Between 2017 and 2021, cloud adoption among educational institutions is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 26 percent.
Schools at every level have embraced the cloud and seen its impact first hand. Let’s look at a few of the ways that cloud computing has changed education.
It helps schools save money.
Building and maintaining IT infrastructure can be a costly endeavor. For educational institutions facing budget cuts and other financial restrictions, the cloud can be an excellent alternative to this more traditional setup. Migrating to the cloud allows institutions to capitalize on the best educational tools and technologies without needing to pay for additional hardware. Cloud vendors handle the responsibilities of maintaining the infrastructure, which helps schools minimize their IT budgets while freeing up their IT staff to work on more valuable projects.
Moreover, schools that rely on the cloud no longer need to pay for individual copies of software. Cloud-based platforms are typically available through a subscription-based model (some are even free) so institutions can save money over time by switching to the cloud.
Even students save money when their schools migrate to the cloud. Resources like textbooks have skyrocketed in price in recent years, leaving many students unable to afford these essential classroom materials. Learning institutions that move to the cloud can offer digital versions of their textbooks at a fraction of the price. Students don’t even need to purchase expensive devices to access these resources—cloud-based learning platforms are available on the most affordable options on the market.
It promotes accessibility across devices.
Today’s students are technologically advanced, with most of them bringing multiple devices to class every day. These students want to be able to use any of their devices—from mobile phones to laptops—to get their classwork done. Thankfully, the cloud has allowed learning institutions to fulfill this wish by making digital resources accessible across nearly any device.
Teachers can upload lesson plans to the cloud and make them available to their students. Whether they’re physically present in the classroom or out sick for the day, students can stay up to date on their lectures with access to PowerPoint presentations, notes, and labs. All the while, cloud technology ensures that these activities won’t have a negative effect on network bandwidth, which keeps every student connected and engaged throughout their lessons.
It allows institutions to go paperless.
Many learning institutions have begun to focus on sustainability, and the cloud gives them the perfect opportunity to go green. Paper consumption (and waste) have become major issues in the educational sector. Between photocopying assignments and storing physical files, schools use a tremendous amount of paper. Those that move to the cloud, however, can drastically reduce their paper waste.
Teachers can share worksheets and other assignments with students and their parents via the cloud, which reduces the need for printing. They can also use the cloud to house a digital copy of any file, making file cabinets a thing of the past.
It improves security.
Schools regularly deal with highly sensitive data, such as student information, grades, and research materials. Data like this requires stringent security measures to comply with a variety of regulations, depending on the jurisdiction.
Thankfully, cloud security has evolved in such a way that educational institutions can always ensure the safety of their information. Administrators can implement controls that bar certain parties from accessing certain files. With access controls and different permission levels, they can prevent students from seeing information that only teachers can access. This also makes it more difficult for would-be attackers to reach potentially sensitive information in the cloud.
It allows more students to obtain an education.
The cloud is a revolutionary innovation for students who haven’t been able to thrive in a more traditional educational setting. School districts that migrate to the cloud can offer classes online and even allow those who dropped out of school to obtain their GEDs or diplomas.
Even higher education institutions have leveraged the cloud to provide more learning opportunities to students. Those who enroll in online academies can obtain accredited degrees from institutions across the country. The cloud also enables Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC), which allow students to take classes that may not be offered in person at their universities. Today, some of the most prestigious institutions in the world offer courses through MOOC programs.
It keeps learning institutions on the cutting edge.
The education sector—particularly at the university level—is a competitive arena, and many institutions are struggling to keep up. Schools need to be able to leverage the latest materials and instructional techniques to attract the best students. In the cloud, institutions can access the tools they need to remain agile in such a competitive market.
The cloud can also give schools access to up-to-date learning materials that they may not be able to afford otherwise. This is particularly crucial for K-12 institutions, many of which rely on outdated textbooks that are too costly to replace.