The year was 2013, and TED announced their annual $1 Million winner- the professor with his head in the cloud. Dr. Sugata Mishra envisioned creating a cloud school for the next generation of learning. Today, we can all vouch for how this theory has aged rather impressively. Much to his vision, education has come a long way, and cloud technology has taken it by storm. Contradictory to the usual philosophy, the cloud is helping both teachers and students nurture connections across geographies.
Teachers are increasingly stepping in the role of facilitators, with students taking charge. Not just limited to classroom operations, cloud aids educational institutions to face and cope with a range of issues, which are only intensifying with time. These include tighter budgets with limited funding and the discord between student needs and curriculum.
With the arrival of Covid, the cloud is no longer the future, but the savior of the present. In 2020, most industries put their pedal to the floor on the digital transformation front, and so did educational institutes of all scales. Although mostly insufficient at the moment, emerging economies are taking note of the inevitability of cloud technology in their smooth functioning.
Modern students also no longer want passive online learning, but a dynamic and immersive space to engage and collaborate. They want lessons relevant in the practical world with flexible access to resources.
The meaning of classroom teaching has transformed into an adaptive learning space. With this fast-paced evolution, it is not surprising that many universities and schools are gearing to adopt cloud technology as part of a more sustainable solution.
Cloud Technology – reinventing the education ecosystem
Technology can bolster education in more ways than one, and the ongoing EdTech revolution is a perfect example.
The overall market is exploding with a projected reach of $8,779.1 million by 2027. As the future of education has already arrived and is here to stay, the educational and student experiences are undergoing a bigger and better transformation. This holds for all stakeholders and institutions alike.
Let us explore a few ways in which cloud technology is reshaping higher education for better student experiences.
Augments student collaboration and productivity
A virtual learning environment has the power to connect learners and teachers across devices and geographies. The last two years have effectively demonstrated how online classrooms help students adjust themselves to technology as they attend, take exams, and turn in assignments on the cloud.
Google Classroom is the unprecedented leader in this arena as the pandemic reduced all learning from homes and continues to use it even in physical lessons. These sessions are also known to increase lesson retention. Two decades ago, nobody knew if taking a course in Sri Lanka with a professor sitting in Norway, for a University in the UK was even doable.
Source - Google Classroom
Augmented reality has fueled a hands-on learning experience, with location-based markers for a lesson experience that comes alive, literally. This approach can be used across industries to impart practical skills, such as in manufacturing and hospitality. Platforms like Zappar offer the space and tools for creators to put together more interactive and engaging content for learners.
Source - Zappar
Enables greater accessibility to both learners and teachers
An internet connection is all you need to go to school. The cloud has made our world smaller, and the atmosphere of learning is now on our screens. There is nothing that can match the accessibility of the cloud, and this is a powerful means to conduct most activities and tasks in real-time without affecting delivery. Students can sync all devices for universal access, and this is an unparalleled advantage against existing conventional educational set-ups.
The collaboration factor snowballs into institutes going the extra mile to get in skilled global trainers for specialized learning, without the latter moving from their living room.
The constraints of time and place are diluted when everything is integrated on the cloud platform. Taking an exam without the hassle of commuting or automated grading of test papers helps students and facilitators focus on the most critical activity- learning and development.
The accessibility is not limited to isolated schools and colleges, with MOOCs emerging as a quality learning platform with a strong presence of globally acclaimed institutions on board. From EdX to Coursera, the scale of offering and pricing has changed how most people view college education.
Improves content delivery and flexibility
A virtual medium of learning enhances the scope of presentation and helps teachers leverage online tools to create a lucid lesson. Content is the soul of any lesson. A robust and creatively designed content engages students cognitively and increases overall engagement.
There is a fiber of flexibility when it comes to online content delivery. Lessons are pre-uploaded along with relevant AVs for all learners. This ensures those fast learners no longer bore themselves with the same concept but move at their own pace in the subject.
Taking courses outside of the curriculum is easier to accommodate, and students upskill in areas they consider rewarding. Teachers are also left to focus on enhancing individual classes with cloud tools at their disposal for out-of-the-box lesson delivery.
Promotes agility in school operations
Speaking of the business front of education, the goal is to get maximum results at minimum costs. Clouds give institutions the flexibility to adjust resources in tandem with the ongoing demand with add-on resources in a few clicks. This cushion of pay-as-you-need leaves room to accommodate other pressing expenses that are otherwise difficult on a restrained budget.
Cloud automates most redundant tasks, leaving time for other expansion ideas and advancements. As data is readily available from analytics, an institute can analyze its metrics for optimum utilization of resources and tap into AI for personalized learning experiences.
The pros are not restricted to just that. The ecosystem has brought academic operations and administration to collaborate and embrace futuristic technology seamlessly.
For instance, Mississippi’s Baylor University implemented the Oracle cloud ERP, CMS, and HCM to bring down costs and establish efficiency in their processes. The University previously had several backend processes with disconnected systems, forcing employees to punch in the same data multiple times, leading to redundancy and errors.
Source - Oracle.com
With Oracle’s intuitive AI, interconnected dashboards helped sync decisions concerning multiple departments. One of its highlights is also the reduction in the hiring steps from a 26 to a meager 6 or 7.
Affordable education with streamlined costs
The overall operational cost relaxation makes programs slightly affordable for learners. Additionally, students need not invest significantly in textbooks and materials as most are accessible on the library system. Reduced costs and universal accessibility play a key role in extending the reach of higher education to areas that would otherwise be deprived of it. The increasing number of students who are unhappy with traditional education patterns can explore the content of online education without worrying about its credibility. As full-time classes require longitudinal commitment, working professionals can accommodate learning via the cloud at convenient hours.
Enhanced content delivery pathways
Institutions are increasingly turning to cloud spaces for collaborative research and high-end industrial training amongst students. Course management software such as Moodle enables collaboration for effective learning.
The chore of maintaining physical tests and records is off the table, and last-minute paper turn-ins are no longer a pest, as the CMS automatically accepts assignments until the set deadline. From sharing notes and accessing textbooks and handouts to private communication forums, these platforms have taken off a significant load from teachers to create insightful and engaging course content.
Classter is an end-to-end cloud management solution that has been helping K-12 educators in Australia and around the globe in freeing up time for teaching and learning, by enabling their school to remotely manage important tasks like online admissions, day-to-day management, billing, etc.
An all-in-one student management system and learning management system that is fully customizable to the needs of each educational institute.
Personalizing education and improving learning outcomes
Institutes can leverage machine learning and AI to curate personalized classes for students' interests. Students’ success rate is bound to increase automatically as learners’ individual needs are catered to.
As against old-school methods that cannot possibly match the learning pace of every student, cloud technology lets the process of learning continue until the course-taker is confident of the concepts. This makes room for those seeking less rigidity to thrive in virtual learning spaces.
Self-enabled learning is on a rise, with policymakers accommodating its components in core degree programs. Cloud aligns and irons out drastic differences by making education available to all, anywhere. As the ground sets running, the cost of such technology is on a downward trend, and even free on numerous platforms for broader access.
Cloud technology is a revolution altering the course of ways students learn, and educational institutes offer programs. With seamless collaboration made more accessible, students can expect increased practical learning with meaningful group work and communication channels to complete tasks.
While there are other advantages like increased inclusivity, decreased costs, and overall affordable programs, a few pain points can hamper switching to the cloud holistically. Risks of downtime during important sessions like exams or up-front cost of infrastructure may discourage smaller institutes from taking the long-term plunge into the cloud.
However, the world is increasingly moving to a remote and hybrid model of communication at all fronts. Top universities across the world are adopting cloud tech for keeping up with the ever-changing demands of the student market. From Purdue University’s Libris for organizing, collaborating visual resources to Cornell’s Red Cloud service for increased collaboration, the aim is to create a cohesive learning atmosphere- be it on a screen or the actual classroom on campus.