By hosting software services off-site, including networks, features, and applications, cloud computing has a tremendous economic and technological case to make to the education industry. Reliable cloud computing can remove a significant IT labor burden on cash-strapped schools. And by removing upfront investment expenditures with a reasonable operating cost, new charter and public schools, in particular, are finding cloud computing software solutions make the best sense. With a renewed sense of urgency and an increasing willingness to experiment with new education settings and initiatives, cloud computing has an opportunity to revolutionize the classroom.
The Market Outlook
Provider of technology solutions, CDW-G recently conducted a poll that showed 34 percent of colleges and universities and 27 percent of primary and secondary education schools already have or are in the process of deploying a cloud computing system. Perhaps just as significantly, however, another 29 percent of higher education respondents reported that they had developed a written plan for adopting a cloud computing system. Indeed, the education market is widely seen as one of the fastest growing segments of both cloud computing and digital signage systems.
Cloud Computing for the Classroom
Along with streamlining administrative staff, cloud computing is a natural fit for unparalleled access to education materials. With the right package, teachers would no longer have to worry about the cost and availability of books and other reading materials. In higher levels of education, there would be expanded access of new research studies and further streamlining of education databases. Likewise, lesson plans, teaching aids, and instructor collaboration can be more widely used with this off-site software service. And the information can be efficiently triaged to students’ digital notebooks, computer displays, etc., and/or sent to classroom printers.
The Semi-Virtual Classroom
Distance learning may be catching on the post-secondary level, but K-12 education still requires a physical classroom to be a competitive learning environment in today’s world. Cloud computing creates a system in which a bare-bones classroom can still enjoy all the educational resources of the conventional classroom. For evidence, all one needs to do is look at what Hewitt-Packard India is doing with its lab-in-a-box program. By taking an unused shipment container, sprucing it up with new paint, makeshift windows, a cooling system, and then installing a cloud computing system, more than a dozen students and one teacher create a low-budget, high-capability classroom that allows students to take NCERT courses online.
Needless to say, despite the languishing manufacturing industry, American students are unlikely to be taking classes in unused shipping containers any time soon, but this program does demonstrate the budgeting potential and economic efficiency of cloud computing education systems.