The Cloud Brings New Meaning To Office Hours, Teacher-Student Collaboration

Teacher-Student Collaboration

Any of us who spent four years of our life navigating the challenges and intricacies of undergraduate life know that office hours, those precious few minutes of your professor’s undivided attention and assistance, are a particularly rare and in-demand resource.  Standing on a long line of worried students, hoping to get your questions answered or your paper reviewed, and watching the clock tick down to the end of your scheduled time is a sensation that  should be very familiar to many former (and current) college students.  At the high school level, opportunities to meet 1-on-1 between teachers and students are further limited by the demands of a teenager’s schedule, as well as the limitations of a high school teacher’s availability.  As such, while office hours have long been a source of consternation and competition among college students, in the high school environment the possibility of holding office hours has long been only a dream for many teachers.

However, the advent of cloud computing in the classroom in a growing number of high schools across the country has led to a mini-revolution in how high school teachers can offer assistance and extra support for their students, without sacrificing more of the valuable personal time that comes so scarcely to teachers during the school year.  With cloud-driven services like Google Drive, but also lesser known education management systems like Canvas and Dyknow, teachers can now offer meetings via video chat, text, or collaborative document editing that allow for the extra help process to not require the physical presence of both collaborators.  The implications of this advance in education are myriad, and exciting.  One of the major issues facing urban teachers in particular is the limitations of their students, because of socioeconomic or family factors, to stay late or put in additional time outside of the normal school day.  While access to a reliable Internet connection is of course still a requirement for utilizing this new type of office hours, with smartphone ownership growing exponentially among high school students, the limitations to this type of collaboration in the urban classroom that seemed insurmountable even five years ago are now being broken down on a regular basis.

The other major advantage of utilizing cloud computing to expand support and informational services for students is in the relationships it can help to further develop between a teacher and their various learners.  College students know that building a personal connection with a professor (especially a particularly well-known or connected professor) can seem impossible in a class of four hundred students, without utilizing office hours.  With the introduction of office hours via cloud services, not only do more students have access to their teachers for support, but the ability to network and build connections for future employment or academic opportunities is equally important for students at both the high school and college level.  Cloud computing, much like it has in other academic areas, is bringing corporate best practices to a wide array of high school students, and teachers planning to introduce greater support systems for their students are being drawn more and more to the cloud computing option.

By Adam Hausman

Jen Klostermann

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