The future of education is in the cloud. According to Technavio marketing research, the global cloud computing market in education will see a compound annual growth rate of 26% through 2021 as educators within K-12 schools, colleges, and universities try to enhance productivity and improve the overall learning experience. Findings from a recent EdWeek survey corroborate this, with 80% of education technology leaders stating that their districts are using cloud-based software to save time and money. Let’s look at some of the top ways the cloud is changing education.
The cloud eliminates the need for expensive and outdated textbooks.
College and university students, who generally need to buy new books each year for each class, spend an average of $1,170 per year on textbooks. Meanwhile, K-12 schools spend $250 per student per year—and because it’s funded through tax dollars, they’ve become a major expense to the public at large. That’s not even the worst of it; on average, textbooks tend to be nearly a decade old, teaching outdated or simply wrong information. Textbooks are often even older in low-income areas, putting these students at a distinct disadvantage.
Cloud-based textbooks can solve for both problems. Digital content costs significantly less than printed material. This can save college and university students hundreds per year and help level the playing field between lower and higher-income students. Cloud-based materials can also be easily updated so students always have access to the most current learning resources.
The cloud eliminates the need and cost of expensive hardware.
It used to be that every school would have a room full of on-premise servers that ran all systems and held all data. This could get expensive whenever capacity was reached and new servers had to be purchased. But with most third-party cloud providers, schools only pay for the capacity they use, much like a utility. That’s not all; in a cloud-based model, schools don’t have the expenses associated with server room cooling, electric, and maintenance, which can get very costly especially in warm-climate states (not to mention the need to keep them cooled and operational even when not in use during the many extended holiday breaks). Finally, with many schools facing overcrowding, eliminating a server room frees up valuable space!
The cloud offers easy accessibility and mobility.
In the cloud, applications can be run on internet browsers, so schools and students don’t necessarily have to own pricey computers or laptops; an inexpensive smartphone or tablet can allow access to lesson plans, coursework, and digital textbooks. The cloud also gives teachers the ability to work from home in order to finish up their work. Rather than getting to school hours before the first bell rings and staying hours after the last bell, teachers can grade tests and homework assignments, develop course curricula, enter grades, and respond to parents from the comfort of their home when it’s convenient for them. With the 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey revealing that over 60% of teachers are highly-stressed out and describing their mental health as “not good,” this could go a long way toward helping relieve their stress, which ultimately creates a better learning environment.
The cloud offers more collaboration.
The cloud offers seamless integration between schools and university departments through file-sharing across any device, so faculty no longer needs a specific medium in which to collaborate or communicate with others. For students, the power of collaboration is also key when it comes to learning and preparing for the workforce. Students can work within virtual classrooms, communicating with students far away, in real time, and combine the education of people from completely different backgrounds. And because kids frequently get sick, they won’t have to miss all their assignments or give up participating in classroom discussions. This may also open the door for home-schooled children to participate with other kids without attending class.
The cloud eliminates costs associated with paper—while cutting the carbon footprint.
Most educators are concerned about their carbon footprint—and more and more young people are worried about the environment too. But the education field is one of the worst offenders when it comes to paper usage (or more appropriately, paper waste). Edutopia did some number crunching and found that on average, a school with 100 teachers uses approximately 250,000 pieces of paper per year. Based on paper costs, that’s $25,000, and printing on that paper would be another $7,500 per year not to mention costs of copy toner and service agreements. Through the cloud, these schools can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and put over $30,000 back into the budget each year. (It’s worth noting that eliminating individual server rooms in schools can also significantly cut back on CO2 emissions and energy consumption, also making the school greener!)
Schools, colleges, and universities can greatly benefit from adopting cloud computing. They can reduce costs (and when funding is constantly being cut, this is huge), promote a better learning environment for students, and create a better working environment for educators. DSM, Florida’s predictable cloud provider, can help K-12 schools or post-secondary institutions move to either a public cloud or virtual private cloud with ease. In fact, we’re already working with educators in the Sunshine State (download the case study below to learn more).