Category Archives: Education

Cloud Platform Evolution and the Increasing Tech Skills Gap

Cloud Platform Evolution and the Increasing Tech Skills Gap

Tech Skills Gap

Though moving to the cloud might result in a reduction in IT staffing requirements, there is still a range of tech skills that remain important to any business. Managing cloud environments requires a particular set of abilities and the operators involved should be able to ensure these networks are safe, secure and functioning optimally. In many cases, organizations will implement a host of different cloud environments, and ensuring they’re nicely blended can mean the difference between an infrastructure that works and an infrastructure that promotes excellence. And so it should come as no surprise that one of three major CIO concerns for 2017 is a technical skills shortage, specifically those around cloud, software development, analytics, and cybersecurity.

The Cloud Skill Demand

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Developers boasting cloud computing skills are currently in high demand, and NovelAspect set out to find the applications most in demand by examining job listings on Indeed from 50 of the highest-populated US cities. Assessing over 200 business software platforms, they came up with a list of tech skills most in demand, and for developers the cloud dominated. Unsurprisingly, Amazon eclipses all others on this list, taking the top eight places when highest average salaries are considered. Developers proficient with Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Amazon CloudFormation, and Amazon ElastiCache are in demand, along with Apache Kafka, OpenStack, and a whole crowd of other Amazon application skills.

In a separate study conducted by LinkedIn, skills in cloud and distributed computing made the top of a list of the ten top skills of 2016; it’s suggested that these are the most sought after skills in the US and globally and could be key to landing a rewarding job in 2017.

Google’s Plan to Address Skills Shortage

Not a company content to leave first place to another, Google has acquired hands-on learning platform Qwiklabs to help familiarize the market with cloud environment operations and the writing of applications which run on them. Though Qwiklabs has previously focused on teaching skills for Amazon’s AWS platform, Google has stated it will be using the Qwiklab’s platform as a means of “offering the most comprehensive, efficient, and fun way to train and onboard people across all our products on Google Cloud, including Google Cloud Platform and G Suite.

Microsoft’s Strategy

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And, of course, Microsoft isn’t all about submissively allowing competitors to steal the limelight either; instead, they’ve announced their own training collaboration with Simplilearn, a global professional training company that’s been provided with the task of training 100,000 IT professionals on Azure by 2020. Implementing Simplilearn’s agile online instructor-led training and e-learning, Microsoft will be driving the certification courses of Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure, Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions, and Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions.

Getting the Right Training

Right now, the cloud development market is wide open with the top platforms finding new ways to pull clients to their products – not least of all boasting a strong talent pool able to service the needs of businesses. But aside from the available certifications covering a range of platforms including EMC Cloud, CompTIA Cloud, and various Amazon Web Service applications, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, many companies are moving their training in-house, choosing to educate employees to meet their needs instead of looking externally for the required skills. Those hoping to train or brush up their cloud skills have a number of options available, both paid and free, and need only narrow the field to the cloud skills most suitable to themselves; for the time being, those with cloud competencies have their pick of the job market. Advancing cloud computing techniques, be it your own or that of your employees, is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Why Cloud Computing and Education Fit Hand in Glove

Why Cloud Computing and Education Fit Hand in Glove

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

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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?

User-Centric Computing

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

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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

Higher Education Institutions Increasing Cloud Use In Next 5 Years

Higher Education Institutions Increasing Cloud Use In Next 5 Years

Cloud Computing Advancing Edtech

In a new research study by ResearchMoz it’s predicted that the global cloud computing market in higher education will grow steadily at a CAGR of 24.57% over the period 2016 to 2020. Making use of computing resources connected by either public or private networks provides the benefits of scalable infrastructure, greater resource and application access, and IT flexibility, solutions quickly adopted by the private sector and now moving more rapidly into government and educational institutions. And in another study by MeriTalk, it’s apparent that 81% of higher education institutions surveyed would be increasing cloud use in the next five years, with overall cloud usage across federal, state, local, and higher education nearly doubling from 35% to 60%.

The Cloud and Education

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The promise of access to enterprise applications and online software from any device and at any time is motivating in any industry, taking the fuss out of installations, maintenance, and upgrading. In a classroom, filled with tomorrow’s tech workforce and, let’s face it, often today’s most savvy tech users, the advantages of cloud computing are undeniable. Not only does a well-designed and carefully implemented cloud computing infrastructure provide teachers and students with the latest and most appropriate tech tools available, but it also helps equalize educational possibilities across schools of all sizes. Cloud computing means that smaller institutions with limited budgets still have access to the most recent innovations, and makes it easier for sizeable organizations to keep their large networks and services current.

Top Drivers for Moving to Cloud

Some of the most obvious drivers moving educational institutions to the cloud are, unsurprisingly, very similar to those driving everyone else to cloud adoption. Better management of budgets, upgrading, application migration and software patching takes the sting out of cost and time requirements to ensure an organization remains progressive. Cloud adoption also requires less CapEx investment and makes it possible for students to use their own devices both on premises and at home for a broader reach and improved engagement. Finally, a driver much lauded once realised is the promise and profit of collaboration which cloud allows for. Student collaboration via cloud computing is a more streamlined and dynamic process not only encouraging teamwork and better technology usage but providing students with a sense of the direction many businesses are taking today.

Why Moving to Cloud Makes Sense

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The obvious benefits of cost and flexibility aren’t the only reason why moving to the cloud makes sense for educational institutions; the growing importance of cloud in all businesses means that keeping up with the world requires immersing one’s organisation in the cloud, and what better place to start than the establishments training the next generation? The cloud is changing the dynamics of IT in many organisations as the need for specific IT departments shifts, and it’s possible instead to implement user-centric computing that requires less specialised IT aptitude while broadening the possible utilizations and functions available to both teachers and students. The cloud means it’s possible for educational programs to be structured to suit individual organisations, and even individual students, for a more immersive and tailored experience.

What to Know Before You Go Cloud

Cloud migration is already happening swiftly, but as with anything, there are a few important considerations. Security is a serious concern that increases with every advance of technology, and ensuring that networks and databases are properly fortified is an obvious requisite. Furthermore, data privacy needs to be considered, as implementing open networks for the benefit of student education can also introduce vulnerabilities. Policies and regulations will need to be explored and implemented to appropriately safeguard institutions rolling out cloud strategies, covering everything from authorised access to rules regarding the use of personal devices. And although the cloud often means systems need less IT skills than those employing only in-house applications, there will always be a necessary level of tech proficiency as well as the need to be familiar with the latest advances in technology. These challenges notwithstanding, it’s time for education to embrace the cloud and immerse itself in the possibilities and innovations on offer.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Infographic: 12 Interesting Big Data Careers To Explore

Infographic: 12 Interesting Big Data Careers To Explore

Big Data Careers

A Career in Big Data isn’t just a dream job anymore nor is the terminology associated just another buzzword. It is now operational in almost every business vertical possible. Strategic decisions employ a variety of applications for Big Data in various industries and continue to create value for businesses across the board.

Everyone wants a piece of Big Data and the demand for jobs in the sector continues to outrank the supply. In order to carve out a career in this field, a course in Big Data and Analytics can provide an aspirant with a ladder to scale quickly.

This Infographic by simplilearn (below) takes you through 12 Interesting Career options in Big Data which opens the door for those seeking a career in this vertical.

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How Secure Is Your School Campus Network?

How Secure Is Your School Campus Network?

School Networks

School related networks are one of the most attacked sectors today, coming in third worldwide to healthcare and retail. Because of the ever growing threat of cybercrime, IT professionals everywhere aren’t thinking in terms of “what if our network gets attacked?” Now, they think in terms of “when will our network be attacked?” The standard firewall and anti-virus software isn’t enough to protect data from malicious hacking attempts.

A primary way to secure a school’s network actually has little to do with the network itself, which is why it often goes overlooked by IT professionals. The staff, faculty, and students in the school make for an excellent defense against on site computer access, but they do need training on how to do this. The training on how to keep the network secure, if it exists, is often lacking, leaving a loophole that a social engineer can easily slip through if he/she plays their manipulative role well with untrained people. Human error accounts for 52% of security breaches today as seen in this insightful infographic discovered via edtechmagazine.

Another important concept in securing a school campus is maintaining a risk management strategy, which 45% of scholarly institutions have been found to be lacking. No matter how much you secure your school’s network and train the people that go there every day, at some point you can be sure your security will be breached in an unanticipated manner. Because of this, it’s vital to have a clear grasp of the risks involved in such a breach, and to take action by developing a strategy that addresses each risk you find with a solution.

There’s many new technologies that can help with making a school’s network secure. Cloud computing reduces the risks of physical on site access, since the server is not stored at the location it’s used. Cloud vendors also offer networking monitoring tools and advanced threat detection that can alert you to a security breach. They also implement strong security policies and procedures that make use of endpoint security tools such as encryption and SSH keys.

Trending technologies have made school networking security as easy as it can be without negatively its ability to protect or monitor the network. The cloud even helps with physical security by removing the on site server from the picture. Most importantly though, in this modern age IT professionals need to accept that breaches are going to happen even if they believe their network is impenetrable. That’s why training those in the school to look out for security issues, and being prepared for security breaches with a risk management plan is so important.

By Jonquil McDaniel

MOOCS – CRITICIZED AND PRAISED FROM THE GLOBAL EDUCATION SECTOR

MOOCS – CRITICIZED AND PRAISED FROM THE GLOBAL EDUCATION SECTOR

Massive Open Online Courses

MOOCs (massive open online courses) have received both criticism and praise from the global education sector. A few consider this recent trend nothing more than that – a fad, here today, gone tomorrow, offering little real benefit. But although some of the MOOCs available fall very much into this first category, many others are proving to be robust educational programs that promise far greater accessibility than most universities could dream of.

Defining the MOOC

With the extensive reach of the internet, in many countries developed via rapidly spreading mobile technology, the model of massive open online courses makes it possible to deliver education to almost anyone in the world, with unlimited participation. MOOCs contain a range of course materials, including filmed lectures, interactive forums, access to professors and teaching assistants, and just about anything else their creators are able to deliver via the internet. Most of the early MOOCs focused on open-access features, promoting the distribution of content, while today we see many others using closed license which offer free access for registered students but which aren’t attempting to reach an unlimited audience.


Just as cloud computing has improved business operations through flexibility, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, it’s possible for MOOCs to transform professional training and development through the exploitation of online tools and platforms. Says Karsten Scherer, global analyst relations lead at IT staffing and talent management provider TEKsystems, “The opinion of businesses regarding online courses has shifted a lot over the last several years.” Although organizations may previously have questioned the legitimacy of online courses, the growing reliance on flexible structures is shifting employee education policies. Says Scherer, “They’re actively looking for partnership opportunities with MOOCs or encouraging their employees to leverage them.”

Improving Online Learning & Getting the Most out of MOOCs

The global demand for learning is being recognized by many top education institutions, and Harvard and MIT’s joint venture, edX, has seen over 27 million course enrollments since its launch in 2012. While such courses provide the opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge, Peter K. Bol, vice provost for advances in learning (VPAL) and the Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, believes these new platforms, in fact, offer a two-way flow of information. “… With large amounts of data available, we can actually figure out what works and what doesn’t work.” User data is already improving the structures of MOOCs but the data collected is also providing insight into the human brain. Says Robert A. Lue, professor of the practice of molecular and cellular biology and faculty director for HarvardX, “One of the critical priorities for HarvardX is using online learning for doing research and understanding not only what constitutes the most effective practice but also what this can tell us about how humans learn in general.

Unfortunately, according to Harvard Business Review, the majority of those who sign up for a MOOC don’t complete it. It’s suggested, though, that this doesn’t necessarily mean these students aren’t getting any value. Because many MOOCs provide the coursework for free, but charge for certificates, those users requiring only the knowledge have little reason to take expensive exams and apply for certification. Many other users are searching only for some of the information provided, and they can always come back for more at a later date.

However you choose to use this modern edtech, it’s a technique that is growing and advancing across businesses, schools, universities and colleges worldwide. The key, however, to successful MOOCs often lies with the student: by defining how best to make these courses work for them, taking only what they need, and thereby improve their prospects, MOOCs continue to advance opportunity.

By Jennifer Klostermann

THE GROWTH OF NEXT-GEN LEARNING TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS

THE GROWTH OF NEXT-GEN LEARNING TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS

Next-Gen Learning Platforms

We are in the midst of an eLearning revolution, the growth of next -gen learning technology is not only changing the game, but it’s also altering our perception of how we learn. One of the primary drivers behind this surge in the learning technology sector is preK-12 education. In 2015 primary academic institutions invested almost $5 billion dollars into new learning platforms.

The growth in the preK-12 sector can be largely attributed to the advance of new “virtual schools” and the popularity of home-based education according to the Education Technology Network. Additionally with the continuing expansion of online universities and online options from existing universities and colleges the need for learning technology that can meet the demands of the online learner is continually expanding.

Zoom In to see an excellent infographic of some of the best next-gen learning platforms in today’s market. Infographic discovered via GettingSmart.com 

 

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A sector that was once dominated by a few large players now finds itself awash in new start-up companies offering new and highly advanced technology that can outpace the older platforms. The shift of the LMS sector from a solution for large-scale business needs to creating platforms for a market that encompasses everything from businesses to pre-k institutions has opened up a world of opportunity for developers.

This resurgence in online learning technology is still in the early stages, the integration of virtual reality and augmented reality is growing, imagine that instead of reading about Paris, you are walking around in the Louvre immersed in the French culture in a way never before possible. The combination of gaming and learning technology is already here, and the market is poised to have its best year of growth since inception.

With the interest in scalability and personalized learning options expanding, according to findings from Gartner, the education learning sector will continue its impressive expansion. As we evolve our understanding of learning and teaching, this industry is poised to continue to be a leader in new technologies.

By Jenny Kelley

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud

Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation and more recent technological advances, such as use of the cloud, have began to make their way into schools. Teachers and professors are beginning to use cloud technology as a part of their daily routines to do everything from storing files to creating interactive curricula for their students. Here are a few examples of what software is being used for in the education industry.

Student Collaboration

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Group projects using technology in school used to mean that students needed to plan time after school or on the weekends to get together and work. But with platforms like Ziteboard, Limnu and Google Drive that allow for real-time collaboration, teams can work together in a virtual environment, meaning that students don’t have to be in the same place in order to communicate and collaborate — they can work from their own devices and even their own homes.

On a larger scale, this technology enablement makes it possible to create “cloud classrooms,” where students in the same class, regardless of geographic region, can communicate via web platforms that integrate webcam, video and chat for an immersive learning experience.

Document Storage & Backup

The versatility of the cloud offers huge benefits for document storage and backup. Teachers don’t need to keep track of hundreds of papers and assignments from the school year in physical folders, they can keep everything on the cloud by having students upload homework assignments.

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Organization becomes easier when files are electronic, and finding certain documents also becomes easier thanks to search.

Students don’t need to worry about assignments getting lost because there’s an electronic record, and the movement from physical books to ebooks means that textbooks can be carried on a tablet instead of thousands of pages.

The cloud also automatically saves your data, even if your device crashes, which provides great reassurance for professors and teachers who are recording grades, writing academic papers or recording the results of research. Some online backup tools have military-grade encryption to provide a further layer of security for professors working on groundbreaking research with proprietary results.

Online Content

Cloud computing has the potential to change how people learn. In the future, students will have more options than just face-to-face learning — they could opt for a virtual classroom with other students or even just learn from online content that includes blogs, videos, quizzes and more. In a more interactive setting, teachers will be able to tap into other resources on the internet easily by embedding them or linking to them in class materials.

The introduction of the cloud also makes it possible for non-traditional students to fulfill their education. For example, students who never finished high school can get their GED through the cloud without ever having to physically attend classes. Other populations this type of education could benefit include overseas workers pursuing a continued education, people with disabilities and people seeking new job skills. Institutions such as Khan Academy and Coursera have already stepped up to try to fill this market.

By Minna Wang

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Minna Wang is an analyst at Kickstart and is passionate about building a community amongst Kickstart’s portfolio companies. She splits her time between Collective, Kickstart’s community platform, and supporting the rest of the team in deal screening and due diligence. 

Prior to Kickstart, Minna was the managing partner of Campus Founders Fund, a student-run venture fund powered by Kickstart that invests exclusively in Utah student entrepreneurs. During her two years with CFF, she helped shape the mission and structure of the fund, growing the portfolio to eight companies including SimpleCitizen, Whistic, and AncestorCloud. In addition to Kickstart, she also writes for Beehive Startups and is a co-organizer of 1 Million Cups Salt Lake City.

Minna graduated from the University of Utah in 2016 with a B.S. in biomedical engineering with a computational emphasis.

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