What Does The Classroom In The Cloud Look Like?
Cloud computing has been exciting people with its implications and opportunities especially so over the past several years, as more and more of the public have been exposed to the potential of this technology. While many people’s first experiences with cloud computing have revolved primarily around the digital sharing of music and video media, these same applications for cloud computing carry significant implications outside of the entertainment field.
The classroom has become a major test lab for cloud computing and its potential to revolutionize educational, social, and economic systems that exist in society today. As more and more urban school districts continue to search for answers to stagnant test scores and high drop-out rates, cloud computing-powered classrooms have become the Holy Grail of most principals’ wish lists. While the obvious costs associated with the technological infrastructure needed to accomplish making this technology widely available, cloud computing remains a hypothetical solution in the minds of many teachers. However, as urban districts pump more and more money into upgrading their infrastructure and bringing cloud computing to every high school class, it is worth taking a look at the potential repercussions to academics as we know it.
Do we really want to give teenagers even more time to be distracted by technology?
It really depends on who you ask. First, we need to rule out teenagers, who would certainly support the ability to bring their laptop, iPad, or smartphone to class to use. However, as any teacher working in a tech-heavy school can tell you, no manner of great lessons or interesting subject material can prevent the obvious teenage wandering to Facebook, Twitter, or the rest of the web. One thing that teachers have been clamoring for from tech manufacturers and software developers alike has been an intuitive education management system, which allows for functions like automatic screenshots and remote desktop controls. By giving the teacher the ability to monitor, control, and more importantly limit students’ ability to search specific sites or go off-task, cloud computing becomes a much more effective classroom tool, and much less of a potential distraction disaster.
So, what’s the purpose of giving students access to cloud services like Google Drive in class?
For the exact same reason professionals use it! From sharing documents and resources among each other during group projects, to being able to meet with a teacher and go over revisions remotely, to revision tracking and other important elements of teaching the editing process, the potential for cloud computing in the classroom is essentially limitless. And that’s just an English classroom. From Google Forms being used for everything from daily homework and class surveys, to Google Earth being used as the framework and platform for opening unit lectures, new educational uses for cloud computing tools are emerging at an incredible rate.
Which tech company is poised to assume the mantle of education technology leader?
Currently, it is Google, Google, Google, and Google. While tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, and others continue to take swings and challenge the “Don’t Be Evil” giant, Google has made remarkable inroads into education policy and tech-for-the-classroom, far more so than its usual rivals. Urban districts around the country, which sit on tens of millions of dollars in funding for technology purchases and equipment, are being courted actively by Google for everything from software licenses, to free support for Google cloud services, to Chromebooks that can be bought cheaply and in mass numbers for entire classes and grade levels of students. While it is a sure bet that once other tech giants get wind of the money at play in this market sector they will make plays themselves, at the moment the standard for cloud computing in education is being set by Google.
By Adam Hausman