The old days of carrying a USB stick everywhere you go are gone: cloud computing is making USB drives a thing of the past. As mobile computing becomes more popular, people need the ability to access and exchange data from anywhere. Cloud storage can allow users to work from any computer—an essential benefit for people on the go.
The implications of cloud computing for higher education are just beginning to be explored. For cash-strapped school administrations, switching to a cloud service could save time and money, as well as give students and parents 24/7 access to student records and other information. For students, cloud computing can encourage both collaboration and creativity; by giving them the freedom to share their work with each other in their own time, students don’t have to be confined to the classroom, or even their laptops. Cloud computing is changing teaching and learning, particularly for online education.
Cloud computing and online education
The cost of a post-secondary education continues to skyrocket: in-state tuition for college students rose an average of 8.3% this fall. Solutions to stem rising college costs include online teaching and learning; in addition to removing location as a requirement to attend class, as well as the ability to use an array of diverse software applications without taking up space on a student’s hard drive.
Cloud computing can also change the way students and teachers access and use textbooks: several schools and universities are testing e-textbook programs, which teachers can use to start online class discussions and online lectures. Students can also use online textbooks to begin their own discussions in chat rooms or on message forums.
The flexibility of cloud computing can extend the reach and accessibility of class material and give students and teachers the most up-to-date information about the subjects they study. Students earning an online degree would be able to have a comparable classroom experience without traveling to a physical campus.
Cloud computing and school administrations
Instructors and students aren’t the only beneficiaries of the advantages of cloud computing; information technology flexibility is critical in higher-education administration. IT departments for small colleges and large universities could save money and server space by using cloud services for databases, file storage, e-mail and other university applications. Decentralizing data might make IT administrators nervous, but today’s cloud services are significantly more secure than they were just a few years ago—and encrypted cloud services are available, if a bit pricier.
The business of teaching and learning has been transformed by technology, and cloud computing has the potential to change the way colleges and universities store, disseminate and exchange information for their communities.