Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Understanding cloud computing in the education sector

Cloud computing in the education sector
In the last few years the term ‘cloud computing’ has become synonymous with new software releases and internet-based applications. Yet whether you’re an EdTech enthusiast or a teaching professional who is indifferent to the use of educational technologies, cloud computing will become an increasingly important part of the way you store, access and manage your teaching resources and data.

Whether you realise it or not, you’re probably already using the cloud. Web-based email services are a prime example with your emails, documents, and contacts all being stored using the cloud.

To define simply, cloud computing is the use of external servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data rather than a local server or personal computer.

When you think of the cloud, think of the internet. Cloud computing is internet-based computing where users can share resources, software and information, on demand and at any time.

In the case of email, the cloud is used to store your emails on the mailbox provider’s servers rather than using your computer’s hard drive. It is this attribute that removes restrictions − enabling you to access your email data on any computer that has an internet connection.

Accessibility is at the core of cloud computing’s appeal. Storing data in this way will see an end to the hassle of emailing documents to yourself, using flash drives and ultimately our reliance on hard drives to back-up information. However, the one assumption of cloud computing is that you have access to an internet connection. The UK’s network speed is poor in comparison to other developed nations but, as we become an increasingly wireless nation, users will gain enhanced access to their data direct from their handheld devices – whether they’re in a coffee shop, shopping mall or library, access will be available on the go and at any time.

Computing is not only improving our physical access to data but also our financial access, too, and as tech giants continue to compete aggressively, prices are likely to fall in the coming year (unless you’re Apple who seem to have the ability to buck most economic trends – read ‘TechTrends in 2013 – Tablets in Education SPECIAL’ blog article).

Using the cloud means low-cost; schools no longer have the heavy expense of dealing first-hand with their data storage and can instead devote their limited resources to purchasing effective digital eLearning resources.

For students, cloud computing supports real-time collaboration, wherever you are in the world. Skype, Twitter and Wikispaces are just a few of the tools students use to learn, share and reinforce their learning. And with soaring university costs, cloud-based distance learning programmes are set to become an ever-increasingly popular alternative.

LearnersCloud is a cloud-based e-learning resource that provides students and teachers with smooth streaming tutor-led revision resources, accessible through their computer, tablet or smartphone device. Combining the benefits of accessibility of the cloud with HD-rich tutorials, our resources mean students fit study around their lifestyles.