The term ‘cloud computing’ has been around for a while now in the online space. In fact, many of us are accessing our email accounts and uploading pictures on Facebook through this technology. In a way, we are using the cloud almost every day.
Cloud computing can be simply defined as computing on-demand for those who have a network or an Internet connection. Through a cloud, you can gain access to data that could be stored anywhere at any given time. Portals such as Facebook and Flickr act as a data digital repository. This data is stored somewhere in the cloud and through an Internet connection and our login credentials, we can access this data from any location.
The foremost benefits that this technology brings to the user are its efficiency and cost. This technology allows a company to save on running servers as it can use a public cloud. It buys virtual server time and some storage space based on their requirement. This is a boon for smaller organisation as otherwise access to that kind of computing power would have been far beyond their reach. You are charged for what you use and there is no commitment cost involved either, making this a better, flexible and a very economical deal.
How is cloud computing related to education?
Embracing a technology that benefits a sector is not only advisable, but also necessary. Once it is realised how a technology will benefit the industry in particular and how its core operation will affect the existing trends of the market, it will have many positive impacts.
Cloud computing is giving new dimensions to how education is being imparted. Taking the traditional classroom lecture online, it has revolutionised the learning process. Across the world, educational institutes and organisations are becoming highly dependent on cloud computing and the phenomenon of Information Technology.
Cloud computing helps an educational institute in several different ways. It allows students and teachers to collaborate and interact with peers, irrespective of their locations. Students from the same class or those from around the world can work together online through cloud computing.
Every institute has its own way of imparting education. It comprises of teaching through CDs and video recording, online classrooms and video conferences, learning through hosted software and several other methods; all of which need 100 per cent reliable and stable bandwidth. To be able to spend on this kind of IT expenses is not within the means of all institutions and this is where cloud computing makes its presence worthy. It provides an up time of 100 per cent along with scalability and a reliable connection that is extremely cost-effective for the user.
How does cloud computing benefit education institutions?
The benefits that the education sector received through cloud computing are many, the prime ones being:
Cloud computing is a cost effective-strategy to access high-end computing, which is especially beneficial in the existing low funding situations. Institutions would no longer have the need to purchase, install and maintain local computers and servers that enable them to allocate IT funds to other important streams.
As cloud computing entails no prior commitment and you can use it on demand, it provides the benefit of scalability. You pay for what you use and even that saves money as the expenses incurred for running a complete IT set-up vanish.
This technology has also helped schools to save money on software licenses that are not just costly but also consume a lot of time and effort. Schools, with their limited budgets, do not want to spend that kind of money on purchasing licenses or hire the staff to maintain it.
It results in increased efficiency as students can collaborate and interact with their peers across the globe. Not only students, but teachers and professors also stand to gain from this facility of enhanced knowledge-sharing.
The concept of cloud computing has expanded the reach that a traditional classroom teaching would have. Many institutes are able to access advanced programmes that would otherwise not be accessible to them. Especially in the field of science and engineering, students gain a lot of exposure through these computer programmes.
Cloud computing provides flexibility to students and teachers, and they can study and learn wherever and whenever they’d want to.
And this is just the beginning. Cloud computing will have deeper impact and more benefits on education as the technology evolves with time, and as more institutions and people embrace and incorporate it in their learning and teaching approaches.