How The Cloud Improves
Educational Outcomes

If you’re among the reported 64% of schools in the UK that have embraced cloud technology as part of their ICT infrastructure, there’s a good chance you already recognise its effectiveness as an education tool. With the increased adoption of cloud-based email, video conferencing, curriculum software, and document storage systems, schools can enjoy a reliable method of modernising their classrooms, improving security, and enhancing learning outcomes for students of all ages.

Education technology has changed irrevocably in the post-pandemic landscape, and the cloud can ease the overreliance on physical resources, helping to create a more flexible, safer and more productive learning environment for students. With the right technology and robust internet infrastructure, the scope for educational growth is seemingly limitless.

children using a laptop in a classroom

What is cloud technology?

At its core, cloud technology aims to improve the learning experience through the integration of cloud computing services and applications. When implemented effectively, it enables educators, students, and administrators to access resources, data, and tools over the internet rather than relying on local infrastructure. Crucially,  the cloud offers unrivalled accessibility, promoting collaboration and remote learning from any device with a stable internet connection. Cloud services also offer cost-effectiveness, as educational institutions can opt for subscription-based models and avoid costly investments in hardware.

Through cloud technology, data storage and management are simplified through secure cloud storage options, enabling schools to handle vast amounts of data and make data-driven decisions to improve educational outcomes. The cloud's scalability ensures that resources can be easily adjusted to meet changing demands, accommodating varying numbers of students or peak periods of activity. Meanwhile, cloud-based applications can be regularly updated and maintained by service professionals, streamlining the management of software across educational networks.

students collaborating on computers

Benefits of adopting cloud technology in the classroom

Cloud computing became a vital component of the education system during the pandemic. With students, teachers, and parents required to stay at home, a new remote teaching environment was established which relied on remote instructions and collaborative endeavour. In the wake of the pandemic, many of these core practices remain, and the ongoing benefits of cloud-based technology are clear to see.

Enhanced learning flexibility

Cloud technology enables educators to create flexible and personalised learning experiences for students. With cloud-based learning management systems (LMS), teachers can upload various resources, including lecture videos, interactive tests, and e-books, accessible to students—on any school-certified device—at their convenience. As a real-world application, teachers are able to use Google Classroom to share video lectures on complex math problems, allowing students to watch and review the material whenever they need extra support.

Collaborative learning opportunities

Cloud-based collaboration tools allow students to collaborate on group projects regardless of their physical locations—in different time zones if necessary. Platforms like Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive enable students to share documents, presentations, and spreadsheets in real-time. This nurtures effective teamwork and encourages students to work together efficiently. 

Cost-effective resource accessibility

Cloud technology can alleviate the need for physical textbooks and expensive educational materials. Instead, institutions can invest in digital resources hosted on cloud platforms. Schools and Trusts can subscribe to an online library service, providing students access to a vast collection of e-books and educational materials. This not only saves costs but also ensures that students have access to the latest and most relevant content.

Improved teacher-student communication

Cloud-based communication tools, such as video conferencing applications like Microsoft Teams, enable seamless teacher-student communication outside of regular class hours. Teachers can hold virtual office hours to address individual student queries or offer extra support. An online language tutor, for instance, can schedule video calls with students to practice speaking modules and provide immediate feedback on pronunciation and grammar.

Enhanced data analytics for personalised learning

Cloud computing enables educational institutions to collect and analyse vast data sets related to student performance, engagement, and learning preferences. Advanced analytics tools can process this data to identify trends and patterns, allowing teachers to personalise their instruction based on individual student needs. Online learning platforms can utilise data analytics to recommend specific learning pathways based on a student's strengths and weaknesses.

Seamless assessment and grading

Cloud-based assessment tools can significantly streamline the grading process, making it more efficient for both educators and students. Online testing platforms like Moodle or Blackboard facilitate automatic grading, saving teachers valuable time and resources which may already be stretched. These platforms provide immediate feedback to students, allowing them to identify areas for improvement quickly. 

Improved security

The job of safeguarding both users and devices from malicious actors, rogue software or malware is an ongoing concern for schools. In January of last year, Milton Keynes College Group was subjected to a sophisticated cyber-attack which aimed to copy data and access the college system, underlying the real-life threat schools can face. Thanks to the strength of system security, the attack was identified quickly and access restricted.

Through cloud technology, education facilities can enhance their security through data protection, cloud-based access control, security updates, and data encryption and compliance. Using our cutting-edge Computeam Secure service, schools can be assured that their protection is robust and up-to-date, using core strategies such as anti-virus with in-built ransomware protection, encryption for devices, managed and enterprise-level firewalls, and a comprehensive backup solution.

students and teacher using tablets in the classroom

The challenges faced by cloud technology

Switching to cloud services can offer numerous benefits to schools, but as ever with the adoption of new technology, there also comes a new set of challenges. Here are three common difficulties that schools might face effectively implementing cloud technology:

Internet connectivity and reliability

Cloud-based systems heavily rely on high-quality internet connectivity. In areas with poor internet infrastructure, schools may encounter issues with slow data transfer, service interruptions, or limited access to cloud resources. This can disrupt the learning process and make it challenging for both students and teachers to access cloud-based educational tools and materials consistently. 

In March of last year, the Education Secretary outlined a proposal to ensure that all schools would have access to high-speed internet by the year 2025. While this marks a positive step towards adopting cloud services as a standard, in the meantime, it relies on adequate funding and the right use of IT budgets to ensure the infrastructure is in place.

Cost management

While cloud services can be cost-effective in the long run, they require careful planning and management. Adopting cloud technology might involve transitioning from traditional on-premises systems, which can result in initial migration costs. Elsewhere, schools need to monitor cloud resource usage to avoid unexpected expenses. Without proper cost optimisation strategies, discussed with your ICT service provider, cloud adoption could strain the school's budget.

Training and IT support

Implementing cloud technology effectively requires skilled IT personnel who understand the complexities of cloud infrastructure and services. Schools may need to invest in training existing IT staff or hiring new personnel with cloud expertise. What’s more, providing ongoing IT support and training to teachers and students for cloud-based applications is crucial to ensure smooth integration and resolve any technical issues that may arise.

How can Computeam help?

In the current climate of limited funding for schools, securing additional resources for new technology can be challenging. Finding the right service provider, then, becomes crucial. While the decision to move to the cloud can represent a significant undertaking for a school, only when education leads view ICT as an integral part of teaching, rather than a necessary burden, will the journey towards universal cloud computing in the classroom be fully realised.

Here at Computeam, we’ve got years of expertise in advising schools and assisting headteachers in making informed decisions about their most critical IT investment. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to explore your options; we are here to help.

girl using a laptop in the classroom

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Posted on July 27th 2023

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