Cloud computing, which has revolutionized the ways that businesses procure services, is now being embraced by education systems, specifically K – 12, dealing with a myriad of challenges resulting from shrinking budgets. The relatively recent and ongoing migration from local servers to the cloud delivers a variety of benefits for budget-challenged school districts, including:
- Reduction in local IT expenses – This is one of the first benefits of moving to the cloud as services are billed on a per use basis rather than as a fixed expense. By shrinking IT costs related to hardware, personnel, infrastructure and office space, resources can be re-allocated to the core elements of the educational system.
- Storage – Storage is currently one of the most popular services being used by school districts, providing an efficient option for housing data, records, and other information.
- Collaboration – Students and teachers can work simultaneously on reports, homework, projects, etc. using cloud-based services. Whether accessed via mobile device or desktop, collaborative efforts no longer require everyone working on a document to be gathered in the same place.
- The option to go paperless – Being able to offer lesson plans, research and other content through the cloud results in substantial cost savings via the elimination of homework packets, textbooks, class work and other information that would otherwise be distributed on paper.
- Cloud-based services are a logical extension of “bring your own device” – Despite the inherent challenges, the adoption of BYOD in school systems is gaining traction for the same reason that cloud services are; tight budgets. The advent of pocket-sized computers and tablets, as well as their use by elementary to high school aged students, presents opportunities to reduce hardware and software outlays while also putting an educational tool within reach on a 24/7 basis.
- Improved efficiency for teachers and students – Going paperless allows for homework and reports to be collected in virtual folders, thus eliminating the collection of printed work, physical storage, and forgotten/lost assignments. With cloud services, “The dog ate my homework” will be a thing of the past.
Drastic budget cuts are forcing school districts to become ruthlessly efficient across the scope of their operations. The move to procuring services from the cloud fits within this objective while also delivering a collection of benefits that improve the processes of both learning and teaching.