Technology is changing every industry and vocation, meaning students must be equipped with the skills to take ownership of their own learning and adapt to the current trends in the world of work.
Just as businesses have implemented the cloud to empower their employees with added resources and flexibility, schools must also adopt similar solutions to prepare their students for the future.
While giving students hands-on experience of modern technology is important from a development perspective, the expectations of digitally native learners means education institutions must deploy the right solutions now in order to stay relevant. As competition to recruit students increases, academies and universities in particular are turning to technology to differentiate.
As a starting point, with today’s students used to consuming online services through a range of different devices, there is a growing expectation for schools and universities to deliver their resources in a similar way. While the majority of universities have provided course materials online for some time, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
As cloud computing is particularly useful for supporting multiple devices, education providers should aim to provide the majority of their services using this technology, allowing students to work effectively whether on smartphone, laptop or tablet.
For example, by having access to all systems on all devices, students can access reading materials, edit documents or submit assignments in any context they choose – whether this is during the commute to class or during an unexpected quiet period.
In addition to expanding the amount of time available for learning, this also removes limitations on the level of resources at any given time, enabling students to access more information based on the direction of their research.
This way, students will be able to input new ideas depending on where their research takes them and learn how to find the answers from themselves.
However, this does not just benefit the students’ alone. To give an example, Sorring Skole, a primary school in Demark has brought in Chromebooks for the third to sixth grade to take the learning experience to the cloud.
By hosting documents and learning materials on a cloud server, teachers have been able to access data from practically anywhere, enabling more efficient assessment and appraisal processes, and removing the risk of lost documents or results.
Teachers can also provide feedback over cloud services, enabling a quicker turn around on marking materials, freeing up time for teachers to concentrate on educating rather than administrate tasks.
As a result, by selecting systems that give users secure access to their data and applications wherever they are, the cloud can provide an enhanced learning experience while reducing demands on staff services.
Learning across boundaries
In addition to providing flexibility on devices and location, the cloud enables teams to work together in ways that were never possible before. For example, by using services that enable multiple users of a single document, such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office, this can enable teams of students from within a classroom, or from across the world, to work on the same project.
By becoming a member of a virtual team, students can experience a range of different cultures and influences, setting up a more immersive and innovative learning environment.
Through the introduction of AV technology provided through the cloud, teachers also have the ability to interact with their counterparts across the world, in order to share methods and information, or even introduce guest lecturers into lessons via video conferencing.
For example, by working with institutions overseas, teachers will be able to provide virtual tours of distant locations or host Q&A sessions with experts on certain topics. As a result, in addition the providing flexibility, utilising cloud technology can also create a much more diverse learning experience, which provides students with new avenues to exercise their team-working abilities.
By having the tools to enhance collaboration in this way, teachers will be better equipped to train their students for the demands on the workplace, while having the ability to inspire debate amongst the students themselves.
Keep IT simple
Aside from the direct educational benefits, the arrival of cloud technology also creates huge benefits for the IT departments from an economic perspective. By utilising off premise computing power, IT departments within education institutions are able to free up their server from the burden of maintaining databases, running applications and storing information – effectively expanding the capabilities of their own PCs.
By moving standard services such as email and ERP systems to the cloud, this can free up more resources to concentrate key functions such as research and education meaning resources are used much more efficiently. As software on the cloud is also delivered through flexible subscriptions, this means it is often cheaper than upfront licenses and leaves.
Of course, in order for this to be successful, the cloud solutions and devices that are chosen must be easy to use and integrate seamlessly with the rest of the business, while having a high level of security credentials.
When looking for solutions, education providers should therefore consider which operating systems would be the most user friendly, which classroom management tools are required and what level of support is required to support these cloud systems.
With the right mix of mobile devices and cloud software, schools and universities will have the tools to prepare the students for the future.
Sourced from Sam Morris, Global Education Solution Architect, Lenovo