We can’t ignore the fact that the world is changing at a rapid pace. The methods of learning and teaching should be evolving in line with the technology we are being exposed to.
The cloud opens up so many avenues to technology in the most convenient time and in the most cost-effective way.
School decision-makers need to be aware that the cloud allows schools to adopt advanced learning and teaching platforms in a way never before anticipated. In some cases, this will speak directly to a schools’ ability to attract and retain learners and teachers.
Almost all new advances are in the cloud because of the power it brings. If your school is not making use of the cloud, you are missing out and falling behind at the same time.
To discover what the specific benefits are of schools using cloud technology, we chatted with could experts, Argantic.
Q1: What is the cloud?
The cloud stores and accesses data and programs over the internet on remote servers, instead of your computer’s hard drive. It is centralised storage that can be accessed anywhere and anytime through the internet.
The cloud has also made apps much more accessible. In the past, if you wanted to use an app, you had to buy the server, install the software, configure and administer the application. In the cloud, most of this is automatically taken care of. And, since you are sharing servers, networks, and storage, it is much, much cheaper.
Q2: How does the cloud work in a school environment?
The cloud provides an easier way for educators to share lessons with students and enables them to personalise learning pertaining to the different abilities of the learner.
The cloud doesn’t just bring convenience and cost reduction, it also brings scale. To illustrate what this means to a school:
In the past, it was very tricky and expensive to provide every teacher and learner with an advanced LMS (learner management system) or other school system. It required schools to buy all the equipment required to run the system at its full capacity, all of the time.
Without getting too technical – when you were looking at running an LMS on your premises, the vendor would typically give you a spec as to the amount of processing power, memory, storage (server) you would need to run the software effectively.
The server would then sit for most of the month idling until occasionally needing to burst to max capacity when actively used. This is the real value proposition of the cloud.
Unlike the scenario where the full capacity of a system sits idle for most of the month, in the cloud, the amount of power available is massive. Plus, you only pay for what you use. So, if the system sits at idle for 50% and bursts for the remaining 50% – you can automatically “scale” the service to run cheaply. Meaning you only pay for the power when you need it.
In the cloud, for a small subscription, the environment scales as required – from 1 student to 100,000 students.
Q3: What information can schools store and view in the cloud?
Student data (student’s personal information, enrollment information, academic information, learning disabilities, medical issues, etc.), school reports, and educators’ information can be stored in the cloud.
An example of this is Office 365 for education – it is based on the concept that everything is stored in the cloud. From OneDrive which handles simple cloud file storage and SharePoint which handles structured file storage (i.e. generally related to records) to Microsoft Teams for Education.
Solutions like Microsoft Teams are ONLY available in the cloud because of the hardware, software and services required to run them. To deploy Microsoft Teams at a school would be prohibitively expensive. However, with an A1 license, all learners and teachers get this massively powerful solution for free.
For those who don’t know it, Microsoft Teams for Education is an online platform that allows educators to take teaching to the cloud. They can add online collaboration, content delivery, assignments, Audio and Video content and so much more.
Educators can collaborate via Professional Learning Communities, learners can collaborate with each other both during and after school hours, and Learners and Educators can interact either publicly (for general consumption) or privately (when special attention is required). This is all done online and in the cloud.
Q4: What are some of the benefits to schools using the cloud?
There are numerous benefits for schools making use of the cloud. These benefits include:
- Costs spent on physical textbooks could be reduced (also eliminates textbooks getting “lost”) Cloud-based material is easy to update (which eliminates students having to use outdated study material)
- Students don’t need to own specific high-tech devices to access the material
- Accessibility – students can upload their assignments anytime while educators can share study material lessons from any location
- A high level of security – all files stored on cloud servers are protected by enforced security.
Apart from the hugely reduced physical hardware and software budgets, the cloud provides enhanced security. It provides access to advanced systems and, possibly the biggest benefit, online access and collaboration.
Learners and teachers can access lessons and lesson content from anywhere. Learners can actively collaborate on projects and assignments. Teachers can participate in Teacher Communities.
Some schools are even hosting guest teachers from remote locations to present to learners. Thanks to the cloud, the teaching and learning boundaries have been smashed and the learning and teaching opportunities have exploded.
Q5: What should school IT Staff know about the cloud?
There is no reason for school IT Staff to fear the cloud. Yes, the old “break-fix” IT function is going to slowly disappear with the stability of the cloud. But, the broadness and sophistication of the new platform make the need for cloud IT professionals more necessary than ever.
We believe school IT staff should address their cloud transformation requirements right away.
Q6: How do schools move towards using the cloud? What is the process?
The process is called ‘cloud migration’ which can be described as the process of moving data, applications or other elements to a cloud computing environment.
The process of migration does vary from school to school. However, the most common items to consider would be the costs, the security requirements, and choosing a cloud provider.
Argantic has a unique migration methodology that makes use of existing IT staff to complete the project. This ensures IT personnel are not left behind in the process.
If you would like Argantic to assess where you are in your cloud journey and address the steps required to complete the process, simply fill in your details below and a friendly member of the Argantic team will be in touch.