Category Archives: Education

How The Cloud Is Changing Online Education

How The Cloud Is Changing Online Education

Online Education Growth

There’s no doubt that the internet has changed the face of education over the last two decades. In fact, by some estimates more than 80 percent of college students expect to take at least some — if not all of their courses — online. Thousands of people have earned degrees without ever setting foot on a campus, and the number continues to grow.

Online education’s explosive popularity is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the convenience of taking courses on your own time and from the comfort of home. Much of online education’s growth is also attributable to the cloud, which has created opportunities and efficiencies that make online learning an appealing and affordable option for both students and universities — and it continues to change the learning landscape for the better, particularly those studying in the technology disciplines.

2016_Learning_Landscape

(Infographic source: Degreed)

1. Significant Cost Savings

No one can deny that college is expensive. A four-year degree at a private college can cost well over six figures, leaving students with extreme debt after graduation. Most universities are looking to trim budgets and operating costs wherever they can to ease that burden, and the cloud is part of that effort. In fact, more than half of universities believe that the cloud can help improve efficiencies. More specifically, the cloud can reduce costs by:

  • Providing more computing power via virtual servers for less cost than investing in more infrastructure.
  • Providing lower cost collaboration tools for both students and administration.
  • Reducing textbook costs. Rather than purchase expensive textbooks that are quickly outdated, students can access cloud-based texts for much less, and access them on multiple devices.
  • Reduced computing costs for students. Most cloud-based education applications can be accessed on any device, meaning that students aren’t required to purchase expensive computers or other equipment for their studies.
  • Low cost applications and storage. SaaS models allow students to purchase subscriptions for cloud-based versions of software, which is often more affordable than a traditional license. In fact, many universities offer students access to cloud-based software for free or a nominal fee, giving them access to the tools they need without spending hundreds of dollars on licensing fees.

While the cloud may not be a cure for skyrocketing educational expenses, the tools and capabilities that it offers can help keep them in check.

2. Improved Communication and Collaboration

teachers

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The communication and collaboration benefits of the cloud extend well beyond cost savings. The cloud offers opportunities for students to work together in ways that weren’t possible in the past. Teachers and students can have discussions, work on group projects, and share resources more efficiently through cloud services. Within the realm of computer education, the cloud allows students to create and share projects, which teaches both technical skills, but also supports problem-solving, communication, collaborative learning, and project design, all “soft skills” that are in demand for IT professionals. And of course, the cloud allows students to learn from others in geographically diverse areas, but it also improves access for students who might otherwise have barriers to higher education.

3. Better Security

Under federal laws, much of what happens in higher education qualifies as personal and confidential, and is therefore protected by privacy laws. Storing important documents on a personal computer or maintaining hard copies increases the risk of a FERPA violation. Using a secure cloud service to manage class work, grades, and other student information help reduce the likelihood of a violation. That doesn’t mean that university cloud services are impervious to attacks, but the security protocols used for online education applications and storage are generally much more advanced than typical consumer security.

This is important for student’s seeking an online master’s in computer science, who may be working on projects that could form the basis of a future business or development opportunity and do not want to lose their intellectual property. At the very least, for students studying computer science, IT security, or other related fields, cloud-based environments give them more hands-on, real-world experience that can be valuable in a future job search.

4. Real-Time Updates

One of the challenges of education is keeping materials and learning up-to-date with current trends, technology, and developments. Computer science students expect to have the most current resources and tools to ensure their degree is marketable. With the cloud, instructors and program developers can make real-time updates to the curriculum, add new resources, change textbook options, and do everything possible to allow students access to the most recent and relevant information.

5. Going Green

Environmental sustainability is a significant concern on college campuses these days, with some students choosing schools specifically because of their green initiatives and commitment to sustainability. Employing cloud services is a major part of green efforts; not only does using the cloud reduce the need for resources paper and ink, but cloud servers can be run more efficiently than typical on-site computing tools. By locating servers in a data center, institutions can lower energy consumption and costs, thereby reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Cloud computing has become a part of everyday life for most people, whether they even realize it or not. It’s already changed higher education in several ways — and will undoubtedly continue to do so as we move into the future.

By Glenn Blake

When Will Women In Tech Become The Norm?

When Will Women In Tech Become The Norm?

Tech Diversity

It is well known that the technology industry has been dominated by men, but it is also clear that the industry is working to change that.

Diversity in the tech industry, especially where it applies to women in tech, has been a topic of discussion for years. Recently the Washington Technology Industry Association even released an infographic Tech Diversity Champions, designed to push the diversity issue into the spotlight.

Michael Schutzler, CEO at WTIA stated “The diversity gap is real in our tech community. We have a significant opportunity to bring untapped talent into the fold by joining a collective movement toward improving workplace diversity.” And while many organizations are implementing strategies to make the tech industry more inclusive, you have to wonder why it has taken us so long to get here.

With statistics that suggest that less than 25 percent of the tech jobs will be held by women by the end of 2016, and with 42% of women in tech more likely to leave the industry in their first year, it is critical that we are able to understand and make needed improvements to make the industry more inclusive and supportive of women in technology fields.

Women in tech often have to deal with an unwelcoming work environment, and sometimes even harassment. Their ideas are often ignored and their work diminished. Many women who leave the tech industry do so because of these issues. This is not to say that men are awful, or that all men are unfair to women, it is just the reality some women in tech face when trying to forge a career in this industry.

What can be done? First, women need to be confident in their skills and not be afraid to challenge the status quo. The more women demonstrate that they are as talented as their male counterparts, the better the odds that women in tech can find successful long lasting careers in the technology world.

Additionally, providing more training and educational opportunities for women in tech fields have proven beneficial in helping woman build confidence and skill. We also need to address the pay gap, and build a pay scale that is based on skill and not gender.

We also need to stop looking at women in tech as outsiders, and just see them as hard working dedicated professionals they are. When women in technology is the norm, then we have achieved success.

By  Jenny Kelley

Edtech and Virtual Reality – Exciting Learning Environment

Edtech and Virtual Reality – Exciting Learning Environment

Customizing Edutech

Customized edtech learning solutions are becoming more commonplace as the education industry recognises their potential and begins transforming the traditional structures so as to incorporate innovative developments. From textbooks to tablets, chalkboards to virtual reality, edtech promises not only dynamic and exciting learning environments but better learning strategies and solutions.

Virtual Reality and Education

Potentially one of the next prodigious education tools, in the last few years virtual reality has made strides that have quickly moved it from the realm of sci-fi to an accepted part of mainstream technology. From expensive and feature-rich products to budget-friendly minimalist models, we’re exposed to headlined Oculus Rift loaded with sensors and providing a display for each eye along with integrated headphones, PlayStation VR accessorising the PS4 console, Samsung Gear VR supporting a smartphone rather than connecting to either PC or console, and Google Cardboard with its universal convenience supporting a wide range of smartphones and boasting minimal, often no, hardware costs.

virtual-reality-glasses

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Developers interested in the merging of virtual reality technology with education are exploring a wide range of paths, some focusing on its benefits to history through series which allow students to ‘jump right into’ historical moments and experience the events themselves, and others using simulation platforms to teach students practical skills through hands-on practice instead of relying on theoretical knowledge alone. Considering the dynamic people that virtual reality tends to attract, including game designers, artists and filmmakers, the combined industry of education and virtual reality has the potential to turn education into an exciting and progressive field.

Edutech in Developing Countries

On the other side of the spectrum, edtech is also tackling the far less glamorous challenge of bringing education to developing countries. One study into technology and education in Hyderabad, India, and the low-fee private school (LFPS) sector, with a combined research team from the Hyderabad Urban Lab, University of Massachusetts and New York University, explores how city-wide firms can contribute to tech-focused education solutions. The study notes, “Within Hyderabad, an extensive network of multinational corporations, private foundations, consultants, NGOs and local entrepreneurs are building what they term an ‘educational ecosystem’ to support the commercialisation of all aspects of education.” The presence of a strong IT industry means the setting is ideal for the development of a parallel edutech industry able to service schools in both the public and private sectors.

Suggests Sangeeta Kamat, co-author of the study from the University of Massachusetts, “Edu-solution companies try out their model in Hyderabad and then sell their product in other developing countries such as Africa, Nigeria where the target audience is the same (students from LFPS). International companies investing in the LFPS sector are looking at the bigger picture. Although the revenue model is not so strong in India, they know that the population in much higher in LFPS as compared to international schools.”

A Glittering Distraction?

Of course, there are some who believe technology’s place in education should be far more carefully considered and supervised, and a study at West Point has found that “students perform better academically when laptops and tablets are banned from the classroom.” According to this research, male students and students entering college with high GPAs are the most likely to suffer from distraction due to device interference. A few potential reasons have been suggested for the negative effects of laptops and tablets, including that digital note taking isn’t as effective as writing notes by hand. It’s also possible that the ways in which classes are taught need to be developed to suit the technology implemented, but we can’t discount the fact that technology introduces many, many new distractions that might simply be more enticing to students than the work at hand.

Like it or not, edtech is progressing, and our schools and universities will have to meet the challenges and embrace the rewards; a lot of elbow grease, along with the willingness to try, fail, adapt, and start again, and technology could be informing education in a host of beneficial ways.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Retaining and Developing Tech Staff

Retaining and Developing Tech Staff

Looking For The Ideal Workplace

Many leading tech companies are recognized as ideal workplaces, voted into the likes of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For lists, and yet the industry as a whole continues to struggle with talent challenges. Businesses are looking to source individuals who are top performers in their category, reliable, and trustworthy, but the workforce pool isn’t yet keeping up with industry growth and development.

The Dynamic Tech Workforce

ellen-humphreyCloudTweaks discussed some of the challenges of tech recruitment with Ellen Humphrey, SVP of HR at Appirio. Says Humphrey, “The U.S. economy loses $350 billion per year from lost productivity related to disengagement, according to Gallup research. When workers aren’t given access to the tools, information, and collaborative processes they need to perform their jobs, experience tells us these employees leave very quickly. Organizations that can make a seamless application experience, develop ways to internally communicate that match preferences of the newest generation and support solutions that enable a working environment from anywhere will find that employees are consistently more engaged.”

The fact is, the tech industry isn’t the only sector recruiting tech talent. All businesses need these resources to successfully compete and thrive, and so the staff that IT companies are spending time and money developing are often being lost to retail, banking, healthcare, and many other industries. If the gap between tech occupational job requirements and graduates able to fulfill these posts continues, non-tech businesses will increasingly be recruiting from the tech companies currently training their own staff.

Workforce Solutions

Some tech companies are working hard to prevent this brain drain by implementing processes which encourage loyalty. Effecting clear advancement and growth routes encourage staff to create goals and targets specifically related to an organization, thereby attaching their allegiance. Businesses that take the time to work with staff on career development will typically be rewarded for their efforts. Furthermore, defining compensation is key. Although it’s never all about money, it’s important for businesses to identify where they fall in terms of pay, based on internal culture and practice, and describe what compensation includes. Staff who are aware of future opportunities for advancement and the potential to work on new initiatives are more likely to reconsider jumping ship for little more than a small pay increase.

workforce-tech-talent

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Aside from in-house solutions, a number of third-party solutions are evolving to tackle the tech talent challenges. In this year’s ITA challenge to 21 Midwest Universities, a record number of students are expected to compete in the search for the best in tech. The program aims to keep the best tech talent in the Midwest, driving the industry forward for many years to come. Of Appirio’s tech talent initiative, Humphrey states, “Ascend began as a formal way of onboarding associates straight out of college and evolved into a training platform for college students seeking additional skill sets in technology. Recruiting and retaining top talent is a challenge for businesses across the U.S – 77% of experts expect recent college graduates to leave their jobs within one year. Appirio put Ascend into place as a response to this barrier to business growth. The program allows participants to work on real-world business problems and to build valuable skills that will help them advance and grow professionally. It has been so successful that we’ve experienced a 95% retention rate from 2013 to 2015.”

As educators and businesses alike work towards increasing and developing the tech staffing pool, both conventional and unconventional tools are being implemented. A host of educational programs are being executed, endeavoring to meet the constantly changing skill requirements. Moreover, innovative solutions in-house and externally promise better talent management and deployment, and could signal the beginning of the end of the tech brain drain and a better balance between tech employee demand and supply.

By Jennifer Klostermann

CompTIA Certifications Fare Well in New IT Skills and Salary Report

CompTIA Certifications Fare Well in New IT Skills and Salary Report

New IT Skills and Salary Report

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., July 5, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/— Skills certifications from CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the technology industry, are the most popular credentials among information technology (IT) professionals, according to a recent survey on tech skills and salaries.

The 2016 IT Skills and Salary Report published by Global Knowledge, a leading professional development and IT training provider, found that 35 percent of certified IT professionals reported holding one or more CompTIA certifications. That made CompTIA the certification provider mentioned most frequently by respondents in the comprehensive annual report.

The study found that 25 percent of respondents are CompTIA A+ certified; 20 percent hold a CompTIA Network+ certification; and 17 percent are CompTIA Security+ certified.

IT professionals with CompTIA certifications have an average annual salary of $76,575, according to the study. Holders of CompTIA specialty and mastery certifications have even higher average salaries. For CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certified individuals, the average salary is $90,579. Holders of the CompTIA Cloud Essentials credential earn, on average,$102,568 per year.

The Global Knowledge study affirms what we are seeing in the marketplace,” said Dr. James Stanger, senior director, products, CompTIA. “Security, the cloud, the advent of mobile devices and the Internet of Things are all major drivers of change.”

“With these changes IT professionals are constantly having to re-invent themselves and certification is a big part of that,” Stanger continued. “Certification is a proven and reliable way for an IT pro to demonstrate that they understand underlying technologies and, more importantly, know how to apply the best solution in any circumstance.”

With more than two million certifications awarded, CompTIA is the leading provider of vendor-neutral skills certifications and education for the world’s IT workforce. CompTIA has four IT certification categories that test different knowledge standards, from entry-level to expert, in cloud computing, mobility, Linux, networking, security, storage, help desk and support, servers, project management and other mission-critical technologies. Visit https://certification.comptia.org/ to learn more.

About CompTIA

The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is a non-profit trade association serving as the voice of the information technology industry. With approximately 2,000 member companies, 3,000 academic and training partners, 80,000 registered users and more than two million IT certifications issued, CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications and public policy advocacy.

Education Through Collaboration And The Cloud

Education Through Collaboration And The Cloud

Education And The Cloud

Online education, supported by cloud computing, has seen much growth due to the spread of massive open online courses (MOOCs) hosted in the cloud and a changing learning environment in which today’s tech-savvy students make use of their own devices to facilitate their learning. Providing cost-effective availability and scalability to e-learning programs, cloud computing additionally delivers access to streaming video, simulations, and virtual learning worlds. With the benefit of collaboration in the cloud, it’s now easier for groups of students to collect and analyze data together, and interaction with educators can happen seamlessly through these same channels.

MOOCs

As education globalizes, MOOCs are changing how courses are structured and delivered. Budget limitations coupled with the need for wide-ranging delivery of programs has made MOOCs a particularly relevant practice.

MOOC

(Infographic Source: MOOCs)

While some consider the spread of MOOCs a threat to traditional schools and universities, many established organizations are instead putting MOOCs to good use as they modernize their existing structures. Unfortunately, research into MOOCs has found a high rate of abandonment due to factors such as low quality, lack of recognition, poor student motivation, and theoretical teaching without the benefit of any practical application. However, examination by Gartner finds that MOOCs have renewed interest in online learning while significantly changing course boundaries, and their considerable impact on digitalized learning in higher education means progressive CIOs are adopting new models and technology to strengthen the online learning in their establishments.

BYOD and Mobile Learning

Bring your own device (BYOD) is an approach that’s taken hold of many organizations, educational institutions included, and it’s predicted that by 2017 half of employers will require employees to source their own devices for work purposes. Already many students see technology as an essential learning tool that offers peer collaboration and communication, as well as a diverse range of approaches to the assemblage of information. The use of such technology further aids in many of the key principles of effective learning, which include applying theory to practice, motivating students, encouraging reflection and creativity, and promoting dialogue and collaboration.

Though mobile learning has previously been limited by the processing and storage capacity of devices in use, it’s clear that the cloud can assist by providing adequate computing resources and scalability. With the more resource-intensive computing tasks executed in the cloud, applications can more easily run on mobile devices, and students can retrieve and share content stored in the cloud from wherever they like, whenever they choose. Additionally, some new trends in mobile learning are expanding the field; geolocation is being activated in some applications that provide courses appropriate to geographically-determined customers, societal norms, and backgrounds, and though big data has always been an important part of e-learning, it’s anticipated that 2016 will prove to be a year of big data app analytics that improves mobile training strategies.

Cloud Study Groups

Both traditional and online programs make use of collaborative learning groups, either involving the entire class or, for more detailed analysis of materials, smaller groups. The concept of a study group is nothing new, and its benefits include the development of critical thinking skills, co-assembly of knowledge and meaning, and transformative learning. This valuable learning facility becomes more flexible in the cloud. Though some students shy away from study groups because they consider them inflexible, are wary of taking part for fear their teammates will slow them down, believe workloads will not be equally shared, or have difficult relationships with specific peers, cloud study groups offer some solutions. Groups can be created without considering student location, which means those with the most comparable aims and suitable partnerships can collaborate and learn together. Further, with appropriate applications in place, the cloud helps build study groups that are adaptable but charted, ensuring work product is correctly attributed.

We’ve already seen many changes in education through online learning; the cloud is the next step ensuring more efficient delivery and improved collaboration for greater dissemination.

By Jennifer Klostermann

The Edutech Expansion – Significant Advances In The Industry

The Edutech Expansion – Significant Advances In The Industry

The Edutech Expansion

The largest education event in Asia-Pac and the Southern Hemisphere, EduTECH, has just launched in Brisbane, Australia, collecting educators and tech providers who will participate in eight congresses and eight post-congress masterclasses. The purpose of the conference is to discuss the significant role technology is playing in education, and a panel dedicated to students will explore how technology is already impacting learning. EduTECH is just one of the many events exploring the value of technology in education; later this year, Tech for Schools Summits will bring together motivated educators and edutech entrepreneurs and MakerBot Makeathon will be taking a look at bringing 3D printing into the classroom. Registration for BETT 2017 is already open, an international edutech conference focused on transforming technology through collaboration with service providers and experts. The assortment of events available demonstrates just how seriously both educators and tech experts see the edutech industry and bodes well for its growth and evolution.

data education passwords

The Edutech Expansion

Last year, edutech innovator Lynda.com was purchased by LinkedIn Corporation for $1.5 billion, the largest exit by an edutech company to date and LinkedIn’s biggest acquisition so far. But this is just one of the edutech success stories, and a host of leading edutech companies continue to make significant advances in the industry.

AltSchool

Out of San Francisco, AltSchool is a community of micro-schools focused on improving primary education. Using a personalized weekly plan and propriety software platform, AltSchool is shaking the system up with its non-grading system that doesn’t rely on on-screen learning.

Coursera

Coursera is a business partnered with universities worldwide and provides free massive open online courses (MOOCs). Their aim is to provide quality education to the world, and their range of subjects is extensive covering the sciences and engineering as well as arts and humanities. Though the courses are free, making learning open to all, Coursera earns money through the provision of verified certifications.

Knewton

Founded by former Kaplan, Inc exec Jose Ferreira, this edutech organization is aimed at personalizing education with a platform that uses data to analyze how students learn and then offer adaptive educational experiences and personalized educational content.

Pluralsight

Founded in 2004, this company is attempting to open up professional technology learning through expert-led online training for IT administrators, software developers, and creative professions. The organization uses a subscription business model, paying course authors royalties.

Edutech Startups

Benjamin Vedrenne-CloquetteThe edutech realm is relatively new and, typically, those shaking up the established structures are innovative startups. According to a CB Insights report, funding for edutech startups reached $2.98 billion in 2015. With a new report suggesting only 2% of the $5 trillion global education market is currently digitized and predictions that the global edutech market will reach $252 billion by 2020, it’s no surprise pioneering startups are making their mark. However, Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquette, co-founder of EdTechXGlobal, suggests the edutech journey is likely to be sluggish, stating, “We estimate that the speed of digitization in education will be up to five times slower than has been seen in other sectors, due primarily to the increased number of gatekeepers involved in digital transition decisions, teachers, institutions, governing bodies, districts, and policymakers amongst a few”.

Despite the potentially demanding climate, several startups are encouraging growth and evolution in edutech.

Classtag

Advancing parent-teacher communication, Classtag provides an app which connects the parents and children of a classroom for improved parent-to-parent collaboration. It provides calendar integration, sends automated reminders of class activities to parents, and lets teachers track which parents have read test and homework announcements.

LearnSprout

Acquired by Apple in January this year, LearnSprout provides educators with tools to use big data for improved student outcomes.

Pobble

An online database of children’s academic writing, Pobble endeavors to help teachers inspire and encourage literacy. Instead of providing students with dry, academic examples, teachers are able to offer their students samples written by their contemporaries, and audiences can share feedback and encouragement with their peers.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Business Analytics Vs Data Science

Business Analytics Vs Data Science

Big Data Continues To Grow

Big Data continues to be a much discussed topic of interest and for good reason.  According to a recent report from International Data Corporation (IDC), “worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will grow from nearly $122 billion in 2015 to more than $187 billion in 2019, an increase of more than 50% over the five-year forecast period. The new Spending Guide expands on IDC’s previous forecasts by offering greater revenue detail by technology, industry, and geography...)

This is very good news for businesses and investors involved in this growing industry. For anyone looking to break into this market as a career choice will possibly find the infographic of use below.

analytics-skills-infographic-big-data

(Infographic Source: onlinebusiness.american.edu)

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