Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Growing Impact of Cloud Computing On Education - Guest Post

The Growing Impact of Cloud Computing On Education

These days, more colleges and universities than ever are beginning to offer classes online. In fact, gone are the days of students being required to step foot on campus in order to receive a degree. Instead, many schools are offering entire degree programs online, allowing students opportunities to achieve a higher education that they may not have had otherwise. And while there are certainly some challenges and drawbacks when it comes to online learning, the truth is that it appears to be here to stay in a world where technology is king. And as cloud computing becomes more accessible, more schools are expected to use it for offering online schooling.

What, Exactly, is Cloud Computing?

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, cloud computing refers to a technology or service that allows information to be delivered in real-time over the internet. In education, this has meant the possibility for teachers to upload instructional videos and tutorials, hold real-time classroom chats, administer timed quizzes and exams, and even have students submit assignments and projects. Essentially, cloud computing has made it possible to create a virtual classroom, where students can still collaborate with other classmates, speak with teachers, and enjoy a learning experience similar to what they would get in the classroom.

Cloud Computing and the Modern University

Cloud computing offers a number of benefits to a modern university campus, and it is one of the most cost-effective solutions. Cloud works great for university’s internal functions. Implementing cloud technology is easier than ever, and the system brings several benefits. It can also be especially important as a time management tool. Smaller universities can take advantage of exceptional functionality at a fraction of a total IT system’s cost.

What To Consider?

Prior to starting a program, it is essential that a university answers a number of basic questions.  Security, confidentiality, reliability and pertinent regulations are some of the issues that affect the choice of a particular cloud provider. Security is one of the most pressing concerns because a university’s private information is stored outside the campus. Cloud providers have been working beside leading businesses for years, and they usually have an extensive security program in place. In fact, most providers have far more security measures than a university does. The chief issue with security is the ownership of the college’s data and who has access to it. Security is less about protecting information than determining who should be able to use the actual data.

Developer Resources

Universities may also consider the evaluation of applications and infrastructure prior to embarking on a cloud computer system. A monitoring system is one way to ensure there are no vulnerabilities. These should be designed to offer access management, intrusion prevention and secure identity log-ins. Because many university administrators are concerned about new technology, there may be a struggle to adopt widespread cloud computing.

After the initial issues have been resolved, the intellectual architecture of the system must be designed. The actual cloud computing design depends on the size of a university and the institution’s data storage needs. Some colleges keep all of their data on the cloud, but others prefer to use a separate system for the administrative and educational functions.

Avoiding Pitfalls

Several benefits are associated with today’s cloud computing systems, but there are some pitfalls as well. Choosing a reputable cloud vendor is essential and is one of the hardest tasks. Because the technology is just developing, several providers claim experience, when in fact, they have very little.

Changing to cloud computing is easiest when universities take small steps at a time. Starting with a small change makes it easy for colleges to see the exact benefits of a particular provider. For example, many universities decide to utilize cloud providers for a single aspect of their operations. Implementing cloud computing to handle the business end of university functions is a great place to start, but there are major benefits that are derived when a college turns to an automatic enrollment cloud management system.

How Are Teachers Adjusting to Cloud Computing?

As with any new technology, there has been a necessary adjustment period for many teachers who have begun to use cloud computing. Since many colleges have begun to implement online classes, it has been necessary to find current instructors and professors at their schools who would be willing to learn how to use the technology and adapt it to their new classes in a way that is successful. Often times, this involves open-mindedness on the teacher's behalf. It also often requires lengthy training sessions, as there is a lot to learn with this new technology. In fact, some schools even offer a specific online teaching certification for those who want to make themselves more marketable as teachers.

And as with any new technology, there are also minor drawbacks to online education. One of the biggest criticisms of cloud computing used for education is that it does not foster the same collaborative learning experience as a real-world classroom setting does However, many teachers have begun to challenge this criticism by holding real-time chats with their classes, with some of them even video chatting for face-to-face interaction.

Overall, cloud computing has made a huge impact on our education system and will only continue to do so in the future.

About the author:

Victor Daily is a tech blogger and freelance content writer for an Australian VPS Hosting company. Hi enjoys sharing his knowledge and giving tips on tech-related topics.


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