What is the cloud? Where is the cloud? Is it an actual cloud? Questions like these and more are what you have probably heard a lot or probably even asked yourself. Cloud computing is a term used everywhere in today’s world but really, what is cloud computing? And how is it relevant in education?
Cloud computing is the next stage in the evolution of the Internet. The cloud in cloud computing embodies the means through which everything — from computing power to computing infrastructure, applications, business processes to personal collaboration — can be delivered to you as a service wherever and whenever you need.
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Ultimately, the term ‘cloud’ is just used as a metaphor for the internet. The cloud itself is a set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that enable the delivery of computing as a service.
Companies can rent access to any kind of computing power on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than owning their computing infrastructure or data centres. The main benefit of cloud computing is that companies can avoid the overhead costs and complexities of owning their infrastructure. This means they only have to pay for what they use when they need it.
To get a clearer picture, normally you would store and retrieve information from your hard drive, which is physically close to you. Data can be accessed by that one computer or any others in physical proximity of the storage device. This is called local storage and computing.
Cloud computing on the other hand involves accessing data over the internet. The information you need is synced over the web. Hence, with an internet connection, cloud computing grants you access from anywhere in the world at any time.
There are three main types of clouds namely;
The cloud provider grants access to customers publicly.
The cloud provider uses the infrastructure exclusively within their organization, hence ‘private’.
This combines both public and private.
It is used in a wide variety of ways. There are web-based versions of apps you normally have locally like Microsoft Office for web. If you can access it with a browser without having to install anything, it is a form of cloud computing.
Another major example you are probably using is Google Web Services.
These include; Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Photos, and so on. Netflix and Youtube are also examples of services that rely on cloud computing services to run video streaming and its other business systems.
Cloud computing services can be broken down into three models.
SaaS refers to end-user applications run and managed by the service provider. You get to use the software via free or subscription-based models.
PaaS lets you create your applications without having to own the required infrastructure. You get access to the platforms, resources, and developer tools needed to deploy and manage your applications.
The cloud computing provider offers customers access to IT infrastructures such as computing power, storage, and network capacities. IaaS gives you the highest level of flexibility and control over your IT resources.
Over 50% of higher institutions have already adopted cloud computing, and that percentage is only rising. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones are increasingly common items you find in the classroom thanks to an array of educational resources made available by cloud computing.
Cloud computing enables educational institutions to access resources that make student-teacher operations more effective. It offers opportunities for innovations and benefits in the classroom that are cost-effective and safe. Below are a couple of ways Cloud Computing is important to education.
It enables enhanced capabilities in remote learning. Students who are busy, non-traditional, or in remote locations no longer need to attend school at allotted times. It enables you to enjoy the flexibility of remote access to education.
In the past, educational institutions had to invest incredulous amounts to license their software and even more money to repurchase it whenever a newer version was released. Today, Software-as-a-Service makes it possible for you to pay much lower fees for much-needed software at predictable rates.
It makes it possible for class materials, assessments, and textbooks to be distributed to students immediately. This means students always have prompt access to the best materials.
With its online platform, school teachers can monitor the progress of the students, students can submit tests and assignments for review, and take examinations online.
It’s services alleviate the need for educational facilities to rely on expensive servers and other IT infrastructure.
It provides agnostic solutions and is available to be accessed from anywhere. This heavily reduces costs for the storage and maintenance of computer hardware.
Microsoft DaaS solutions like the VMware cloud for education are the best ways to future-proof education systems. These technologies make schools more prestigious and desirable for incoming and existing students.
Cloud computing technologies also offer high-end application services that can be used to provide higher standards of learning.
Switching to cloud computing is going to become a paramount necessity in schools as the world becomes more virtual and remote. With many sectors working remotely, education is bound to follow. Cloud computing is not only powerful, but also easy to implement and use, and comparatively affordable. Many educational institutions will switch to cloud computing services for almost all of their processes if they have not already.
It makes it easy for schools and universities to give students the modern standard of education they deserve. It is an important responsibility for educational professionals to look deeply into the relevance of cloud computing in education.
Cloud computing has great potential to be an invaluable asset to education by implementing new ways of learning and slowly letting go of educational paper archives.