The cloud has wrought immense changes in education, transforming the teaching and learning process in many exciting ways. At all levels of education, cloud computing is gaining widespread adoption due to its ease of use, scalability, stability, and safety. If your educational institution hasn’t adopted the cloud, learn four key ways doing so can make a difference for your school.
The Cloud Lowers Your Hardware and Software Costs
Educational IT resources spend so much time on infrastructure maintenance, there’s little room for innovation. As a result, it’s difficult to keep up with the complexities of hardware and software, especially given the budget constraints of education.
By switching to the cloud, universities can enjoy robust IT infrastructure without constantly spending time upgrading software, maintaining the system, or worrying about cyber security. Since the cloud provider takes care of this stuff, school IT employees can work on other projects.
While schools may not have the budget to provide every student with a computer, students can bring devices from home and use cloud resources at school.
SaaS, or software as a service, offers significant advantages for schools over licensing. With each year’s crop of students, schools no longer have to worry about purchasing new licenses, overseeing software installations, or making sure software is up to date. From a budgeting standpoint, it’s often more cost effective to pay for SaaS applications for every user than to purchase software and handle licensing, which comes with steep costs even factoring in the educational discount.
Cloud apps are much more flexible. Many are free, and others keep costs low. There’s no pricey contract, so if something isn’t effective, your school can try a new program next year. Cloud apps are platform independent, so students can use the device of their choice. There are no longer constraints over Mac vs. PC vs. Chromebook.
The cloud also lowers costs by reducing unpredictability. You’ll always pay a set amount, which is determined by your service agreement. You can scale up or down as your needs change, but you won’t be hit with an unexpected charge, as you might when you’re handling IT in-house and a server crashes.
The Cloud Boosts Collaboration
Technology has really changed the dynamic between students and teachers, notably around the exchange of information. Teachers need to get documents and assignments to students, who need to turn them in. The cloud makes it easy for teachers to post work and students to retrieve it when it’s convenient for them. The same goes for assignments.
With document sharing technology, teachers can share documents only with the students who need them. Teachers can track assignment submissions and even grade homework from their smartphones. They can follow up with students on late assignments or answer questions, increasing accountability and learning comprehension.
Collaborative tools allow students to complete group work, share information, and track their progress on tasks. Students can decide whether to work together in real-time or work independently.
When both students and teachers have a secure way to handle homework and assignments, there’s more time to focus on learning.
Virtual Labs Enable Learning
IT training brings to mind large-scale investments in hardware, complex configurations and setup, and major expense.
Cloud platforms reduce cost, setup, and difficulty in the lab environment. Educators can use cloud-based virtual machines to create virtual training labs. Virtual labs bring interactivity and collaboration to the lab setting, while training students in hands-on, transferrable skills.
Trainers can set up as many virtual machines as they need, track student use, jump in and help when needed, and reallocate the resources after the lab is completed.
The same technologies can also help with professional development expenses, increasing teacher training while keeping costs down.
The Cloud Protects Against Ransomware
Education is the top target of ransomware attacks. Schools must brace themselves against these attacks or find student data held for ransom. Ransomware spreads using system vulnerabilities and security holes. For educational IT staff to monitor trends and keep up with malicious attacks would mean patching every device accessing the network, backing up all educational data in case of loss, maintaining updated anti-virus software on all machines, and training staff on best practices — hardly tasks the typical school IT department has time for.
It takes time and resources to set up a layered security model that can thwart ransomware — both in the initial setup and ongoing. Schools may not have capacity to make this initial investment, and this leaves their students vulnerable.
By switching to the cloud, schools can build a robust disaster recovery solution to protect against ransomware and other malicious cyber threats. If something does go wrong, schools can recover their data quickly, reducing productivity delays and negative consequences.
From K-12 to university, there are many examples of schools that have embraced virtualization to significant benefit. Students, faculty, and staff now rely on the cloud to work, learn, and grow. Higher education professionals at all levels are asking themselves not whether to switch to the cloud but when and how. With so many reasons to switch, what are you waiting for?