Can Cloud Computing Bring a New Dawn for Higher Education?

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Cloud Computing has recently become a “big deal” as most IT experts are singing its praise about how it can improve businesses. But can it also help higher education and enable our students to learn better? The answer is a simple yes.

Going to the Clouds

Cloud-based programmes and tools can undoubtedly facilitate students and teachers to have an enhanced learning experience. Cloud computing is modifying the structure of higher education and taking it to an all new level. It can help to deliver and perform various online solutions and products which can make education more engaging and effective. Currently, many renowned and reputed colleges and institutes across the world are using cloud based technology to provide a better learning experience to their students.

Let’s Look at Some Cloud Facts….

According to several studies, 4 out of 5 students in higher education programmes are expected to participate in at least one online course by the end of 2014. It was also observed that around 55 per cent of educational institutes, who wish to improve their efficiency, believe cloud computing can provide them the best solution to achieve this. The studies show that almost 68 per cent of higher education institutes and colleges use or plan to use cloud-based tools and programmes for collaboration and conferencing.

The studies also reveal that among all the higher education institutions surveyed, 65 per cent use cloud computing for storage; 62 per cent use or plan to use cloud-based programmes for messaging; 65 per cent use cloud computing tools for office/productivity suites; and around 59 per cent institutes use or plan to use cloud for advanced computing power.

You can clearly see that cloud-based technology has gained tremendous popularity amongst various large as well as local institutes that offer higher education programmes.

Cloudy with a Chance of Learning

Currently cloud computing has become highly useful and beneficial for universities and colleges and can extend into different aspects of education. It can help in improving internal IT structure and organisation and also to store archived data and academic content in a cloud storage area. Moreover students can also share, submit and retrieve papers and assignments through the cloud whenever they need.

Cloud-based technology has proved to be especially beneficial in specific areas like student enrolments, admissions, financial aids, assessments, tests and even achieving their budgetary goals. With increasing number of students applying for higher education programmes, these tools and programmes can make the entire process of teaching and learning much more efficient, faster and more affordable. Hence colleges that use the cloud would have an advantage over their competition and be able to attract more students to their programmes.

Cloud computing is in fact more beneficial for smaller institutes as it can help them to realize a high level of functionality which these institutes would not be able to achieve on their own. Moreover, it doesn’t even require too much investment for consulting, hardware, administration and integration.

Tools of the Trade

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Some of the most prominent cloud-based tools that have been develop specifically for higher education include-

  • Banner by Ellucian

  • Cirrus Insight

  • Evernote

  • Amazon Web Services

  • Prezi

Banner is a specially designed ERP tool that has been developed for helping users and departments on campus; Cirrus Insight, by connecting Salesforce CRM and Gmail, helps deal with student and alumni relationships; Evernote is a cloud-based note taking application for teachers; Amazon Web Services provide a wide range of IT management tools; and Prezi, a cloud-based presentation tool, helps teachers to prepare presentations directly from their internet browsers.

As technology is progressing in a rapid pace, teachers and students alike are becoming more comfortable with using technology to improve their learning environment and experiences. Presently, cloud-based academic tools have become a boon for colleges and universities as it helps them to develop education in a broader sense.

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