Five Ways the Cloud Is Changing Education

By Michelle Estes, EdD, ET, ABD
Director of Professional Learning at Paradigm Education Solutions

Over the last decade, we’ve seen educational institutions make tremendous strides in seizing the opportunities that modern technologies provide. What you might not know is that these institutions are increasingly using the cloud to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness of our schools. In fact, 96 percent of leading research institutions are already using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as are 19 of the top 20 best-funded education technology startups. As more schools continue to migrate workloads to the cloud, the benefits to students everywhere will multiply.

In his article, “Five Things You Don’t Know About Cloud Computing and Education,” Managing Director for Global Education at Amazon Web Services Andrew Ko shares several ways the cloud is changing education.

Some of them may surprise you.

1. Driving student success in the classroom and beyond

The goal of education is to help students grow and succeed, both in the classroom and in the workforce. The cloud can serve as a force multiplier in achieving this goal, putting additional tools to enhance student learning directly into the hands of educators.

2. Keeping student data safe

With data collection and analysis comes the responsibility of protecting student information. This is particularly important in an age when data breaches and identity theft are becoming increasingly common. AWS takes the security of the cloud seriously and is vigilant in its efforts to maintain the trust of those who use its services. Just as the threats continue to morph, AWS continues to innovate so that the data of all students is protected.

3. Making technology dollars stretch further

Switching to the cloud allows schools to reallocate their limited resources toward teaching and learning. Not only is the cloud the right solution to improve student outcomes and data security, but it also supports fiscal responsibility. Building and maintaining data centers requires high levels of investment and significant continued maintenance costs. Through its pay-as-you-go model, the cloud offers school districts the flexibility and agility to scale up during peak times—like back-to-school season and end-of-grading periods—and scale down over breaks when server needs are low.

4. Saving educators’ time

Cloud technology is also saving another invaluable resource: teachers’ time. By creating access to new lesson planning resources, better identifying which interventions are working best, and even grading papers, the cloud is making it possible to save precious hours every week.

5. Leveling the playing field

Technology is ever-present in many colleges and universities but leveraging technology to develop more equitable and personalized learning experiences for students is not easy. Distance learning, limited classroom space, and the specialized software needed for creative fields are rapidly making the computer lab obsolete. Schools in rural or less affluent locales can’t always afford licensing software for each student—further compounding these effects. Districts need another way to deliver learning applications to students.

In summary, cloud technology is a powerful tool that schools can use to improve student outcomes, keep student data safe, stretch budgets further, save educators’ time, and increase equity in learning. To fully realize these benefits, more work must be done to broaden and deepen the adoption of cloud technologies across the education spectrum. We need to use all avenues to make sure that our students are supported, including migrating to and utilizing the cloud and the technologies it offers.

Paradigm Education Solutions uses Amazon Web Services to deliver the Cirrus cloud-based learning environment.

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