Have you ever suddenly realized that there is a whole part of the community that you sometimes forget exists? For me it’s the school system. Firstly, as someone with no kids, and having said goodbye to University years ago (taking 8 years to finally finish my degree was enough for me!) I have really not much connection to how the education system has evolved over the last 5 years. What kinds of things can be done with cloud to make our education system more effective? I have a few ideas.
I could spend hours talking about cloud and security and education, but off the top of my head, there are 3 key areas that I see cloud helping education; infrastructure optimization, content management and collaboration.
Firstly, by looking at virtualization as a tool for resource optimization, schools can start to upgrade their legacy infrastructure which normally would require huge costs to overhaul. Virtualization can be used to run legacy applications while designing new ones to make internal infrastructure more flexible and optimize storage and memory resources. It also allows for the development of next generation solutions such as mobile access and thin clients for classroom use.
From a content management perspective, by creating centralized repositories for teaching materials, and the curriculum can be standardized and updated to take advantage of changing content. Centralization will allow all schools to take advantage of one main source of tools and content without having to build and host in-house. Content can also be made accessible through web portals for students to access at home on multiple devices.
The most important use of cloud in my opinion, is how it will transform collaboration. It’s no surprise that class sizes are getting bigger yet budgets are getting smaller. Through collaboration, teachers can receive more detailed input on each student’s progress and create individualized plans based on their unique needs. If analytics is integrated into all content, you could have an automated process whereby if a math test has a certain grading curve and a student falls below that curve, it would flag the system to look at other tests to identify if the student needs help in one subject or across the board. This would help teachers to identify these students, create a learning plan which utilizes content from the centralized repository, and the student can do the work outside class. The content could allow for online tracking so the teacher would be able to see progress and be able to assist the student better than looking at a test score as an isolated incident.
I’m not a teacher, and as I mentioned I am not affiliated with the school system in any way, but I love the idea that e-learning can help students who might normally fall behind take advantage of individualized plans to help them succeed. Ofcourse it requires that students have access to and are familiar with technology, but through cloud, applications can be created to work on any operating system, tablet or laptop/desktop with thin clients or standard web portals. In either case, education has changed significantly from when we had ICON computers, we need to make sure that education keeps up to give us a great generation of future cloud developers.