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3 Ways Cloud Can Change Education

I started kindergarten back in 1993, a simpler time for technology. Today’s brand names like Amazon, Yahoo, and eBay were still very nascent, and Internet pioneer Netscape was 3 years away from going public. For elementary schools like mine, simply having computers was an accomplishment and mine displayed theirs proudly.

Throughout elementary school, computer curriculum was a part of our weekly learnings. By 2nd grade, we were being taught how to type and by 4th grade, we were encouraged to create our own websites. Writing essays and short stories online became a regular habit by middle school, and I saved my earliest manuscripts on a 2 MB floppy disk. Even throughout college, I stuck to mostly desktops and had a flip phone which was finally replaced with a smartphone — 2 months after graduation.

Times have changed tremendously since I started using technology. I work now in cloud computing, a concept that didn’t even exist until I was in 3rd grade. In conversations with parents, I learn that their children receive an education on iPads, with older children collaborating over social media groups, email, and mobile applications. With rich media technology dominating so much of our lives, what can we do to ensure that children of all ages today learn in the most effective ways possible?

A survey by Insider Higher Ed and Gallup found that 75% of college faculty believe that cloud computing technology can improve outcomes with 63% indicating measurable gains. Though opinions differed on what types of technology might be most effective, there was unanimous agreement around open education programs, commonly known as Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs.

The technology potential in education stretches far and wide. Clearly, higher education faculty seem to agree that technology is key to education attainment, and there’s no doubt that similar efforts are being made in K-12. Though the school year is ending and graduates are receiving diplomas, it’s never too early to think about next year. Here are my big 3 ideas for how the cloud can be leveraged for educational success.

1. Intertwine digital experiences

Connected customer experiences are a big deal right now, as businesses worldwide explore opportunities to stay top of mind for their customers. Similar experiences should be considered for students, who already live a digital native lifestyle. For a generation that has grown up on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, email, and text messaging, staying connected to coursework is a natural connection. Since students across grade levels take a variety of courses and subjects, digital experience community tools like IBM WebSphere Portal are the perfect way to unify disparate learning platforms into one, while IBM Connections can be used to deliver the engaging and thought-provoking content necessary for learning stimulation.

2. Develop for the classroom

Each student possesses a unique learning ability, whether it’s listening, reading, or doing. While past classroom settings offered fewer opportunities for such varied learning methods, the availability of new technology is a game changer. With hybrid cloud platforms like IBM Bluemix, education developers can not only create customized applications that tie classroom activities with real-world implications, they can also measure student interaction, behavior, and outcomes to drive learning improvements. When placed alongside one-on-one sessions with parents, this has the potential to allow for faster student learning, improvements, and adjustments in the classroom.

3. Teach within context

Finally, teachers and students can engage each other within contextual means. In the past, learning meant a lot of research and sidebars to get to the point. Today, platforms like Watson and Watson Developer Cloud offer quicker answers and shorter time to “a ha!”, while also allowing educators to discover which topics need more priority.

Cloudy with a Chance of Learning

With these technology use cases in mind, there is a bright future for students of all age who are passionate about learning. Personally, I never got to see technologies like cloud and web portals integrated into my education until very late in college and wondered how my learning capabilities would have changed. As learning is a lifelong duty, I’ll take what I can get with modern course platforms which accomplish much of the same.

How about you? How do you think cloud can change the way our students learn? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Albert Qian

Albert Qian is a Marketing Manager at Perficient for our IBM PCS, DevOps, and Enterprise Solutions Partners focused on cloud computing technologies.

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