Cloud Computing and Education
In a recent Research and Markets report, Global Cloud Computing Market in Higher Education 2016-2020, it’s forecast we’ll see a growth of 24.57% CAGR in the global cloud computing market in higher education between 2016 and 2020. This is unsurprising as though there has been some resistance to cloud transitions in educational settings it’s typically considered a smart move and the data to back it up is starting to roll in.
The Importance of Cloud for Institutions
In the most basic sense, transitioning to the cloud means moving applications, servers, and data from private facilities to internet-based facilities, thereby making sharing of information and accessibility easier and further reaching. However, the cloud is not merely a change of infrastructure. Instead, we’re provided with greater flexibility and broader admission to technical services as the cloud changes the way we purchase these tools and breaks technological applications into smaller chunks for tailored solutions. Thanks to cloud implementations, organizations of any size have access to innovation and the speed at which organizations do business is raised. These same services are just as meaningful to educational institutions and just as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are encouraging progress in businesses they have the ability to augment educational services.
Moreover, cloud solutions aren’t providing a boxed set of benefits but instead encourage dynamic and imaginative revisions of current tools and practices. Institutions which have adopted cloud services but also encouraged creative use of these resources are proving better competitors and more robust organizations. Educational institutions are no different; in fact, what better place to promote creativity and innovation with the goals of progression and advancement?
Today we’re moving away from IT-centric computing thanks to the proliferation of mobile and personal computing devices which have just about everybody connected and with at least some level of IT skill. Operations tend to focus more on user-centric computing which encourages service-driven models, automated processes, and flexible, user-friendly platforms. Most students today can’t imagine a world without the internet and insisting on outdated modes of education simply because they’re what’s worked for centuries is no longer smart. And so, with computing already aimed towards the user, educational institutions are accepting the value of the cloud and implementing technologies that change, and better, the ways we educate.
Distinctive Needs of Education
Just as every individual institution will have its own set of needs from the technologies which service it, educational organization too require tailored computing solutions. The cost-effectiveness of cloud is an obvious factor in the ever underfunded education sector, but less discernable perhaps is the promise of constant upgrades and maintenance which ensure students are exposed to the latest tools at implementation, and three years later, and five years after that. Cloud services allow educational institutions to respond quickly to changes and access new opportunities without high costs, endless consultations, and disrupting implementations.
Cloud Conversion Advances Student Data Security
Along with the tools the cloud can provide educational institutions with, cloud conversion can, in fact, advance student data security. Though the fears around security and privacy of data in the cloud are well known, when correctly implemented cloud services often offer better governance tools than the average in-house setup may facilitate. Professional products such as Google Apps for Education, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Microsoft Office 365 Education offer collaborative benefits, offline access, real world education, and excellent data security protocols. Of course, before signing on with any vendor schools need to ensure strict data protection policies are in place with contracts that protect both students and the institution.
Deciding whether or not to embrace the cloud isn’t really up for discussion anymore; it’s already happening. Most of us rely on the cloud in our day to day lives and there’s no reason education shouldn’t do the same. Though managing the transition requires skill on both the vendor and organization’s side, the benefits outweigh initial costs and time requirements.
By Jennifer Klostermann