When we analyze the education sector, it is prohibitively expensive. Some of the most expensive aspects are physical infrastructure, faculty, amenities and printed curricula. It is one of those sectors where cutting corners simply won’t work. It is for this reason that even stable economies struggle to cope with education budgets.
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Fast forward to the Cloud Computing Revolution that has not only transformed the global corporate sector, but also offers tremendous potential in the education sector. The primary target market of mainstream Cloud Service Providers (CSP) were mainly large business corporations.
Now that the cloud solutions market is rapidly approaching maturity, CSPs are exploring fresh avenues for offering their cloud based solutions. The education sector, due to certain characteristics, is one of the most potent areas where there is immense growth potential for cloud computing.
List of Benefits Cloud-Based Solutions can offer to the Education Sector
In this post, we will outline some of the major benefits cloud-based solutions can offer to the education sector.
This is a major and recurring cost component that is borne by educational institutions and students. The life of printed textbooks does not exceed one academic year as, either those books become heavily soiled or lose their integrity due to careless use.
The sheer weight of so many textbooks also physically burdens students. By leveraging the cloud, all the material available over printed textbooks can be converted and served to students in a digital form. This will eliminate the heavy costs associated with printing of educational textbooks each year.
Due to the massive cost and work associated with updating printed textbooks, the task often keeps on getting postponed for one reason or the other. As a result, students remain deprived of the latest curriculum which is in line with the most recent developments in their respective academic domain.
Once the textbooks have migrated over the cloud and readily available in digital format, it will become really easy and swift to make any improvements in the syllabi. Secondly, these changes will have to be made over a single central point and all those changes will immediately take effect across the whole cloud powered network.
On Premise IT Hardware
There is a plethora of records that educational institutions have to maintain over a long period of time. Some of these records include bio data of students, history of academic performance, tuition fee records and much more. As a result, the data storage and processing needs of educational institutions remain on the rise.
To cope with the growing data needs, the best they can do in a traditional on premise IT infrastructure is procure additional hardware. This includes costly servers, storage stacks and even end point devices such as desktop PCs. This procurements takes a heavy toll on the limited financial resources.
Procuring all this hardware is just one aspect of this expense as additional support hardware needs to be purchased. You need physical space for this additional hardware. Round the clock physical security, heating and cooling are also required to keep this hardware in optimal working condition. This rapidly jacks up operating expenses.
If all these educational and other administrative records can be moved to the cloud, there is no need to procure any additional hardware. Any additional storage or computing resources can readily be sourced from the CSP, just by paying an additional usage fee for the incremental needs.
Similarly, during holidays, a school or college can save money by reducing its utilization of cloud based services. As CSPs bill you on a usage basis, this will result in saving operating expenses. Moving to the cloud means you don’t have to invest any further on procuring expensive IT hardware for on premise needs.
When the academic material has moved over the cloud, students have round the clock access to their learning material. Even if a student is unwell and cannot attend class, the learning material is still available. In this way, students who can’t visit campus for various reasons won’t lag behind in most cases.
The greatest feature of a cloud powered academic platform is versatility. A student can access the learning material virtually from any device whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. You don’t even need a high spec login device, as all the processing resources are coming from the Cloud Service Provider.
The cloud inculcates a highly effective collaborative environment among both students and faculty. Virtual student groups can be created over the cloud which collaborate to solve various problems. This will harness a culture of cooperation between students and also result in generating out of the box solutions.
Over the cloud architecture, the faculty can also develop a highly collaborative ecosystem. Relatively junior teachers can seek instant guidance from their senior counterparts, whenever they get stuck on something. Teachers can track and monitor the progress of students and their virtual groups over the cloud in real time.
A cloud-based infrastructure is also environment friendly over the mid and long term. Firstly, the vast data centers of CSPs are simultaneously serving hundreds or maybe thousands of organizations. This reduces the overall carbon footprint as each individual cloud tenant is not employing amenities for their on premise solutions.
When an educational institution moves to the cloud, it will exponentially reduce the consumption of paper, which comes from cutting a valuable natural resources, trees. This in turn will improve the quality of atmosphere in which we breathe every day. It will also mitigate the adverse effects of global warming and climate change.
When the whole educational infrastructure has moved to the cloud, the entire system of student evaluation can also be fully digitized. Instruments of student evaluation such as assignments, quizzes and exams can be administered virtually over the cloud infrastructure.
The faculty will be able to evaluate the performance of students over the cloud, even from the comfort of their homes. Students will have real time access to their academic evaluations so they now how they have done so far. Even parents can be given access to their child’s academic records round the clock.
The cloud has immense potential to literally bring about a major revolution in education. This is particularly true for the under developed and developing countries, who cannot invest on quality education due to resource constraints. This will be a winning situation for all key stakeholders namely the government, teachers and students alike.