Technology has quickly advanced to the point that it is part of our daily lives, and that includes our school careers. Cloud based technologies are becoming increasingly essential tools both in and out of the classroom.
Information Storage, Group Projects, and Turning in Assignments
There are more tools available today for the storage of information than there ever have been in the past. Teachers can supply a cloud based storage system, such as Google Drive, for supplying information to students for projects, schedules, or assignments. In the same vein, students who need to work together on projects can use the same type of storage system to exchange information and project pieces, making it much easier to consolidate the information. Group projects used to consist of everyone getting together at one person's house, staying late after school or running up your phone bill with three-way phone calls. Now, everyone can work on the same project each in the comfort of his or her own home.
Teachers can use it as a way to turn in assignments as well, especially those that are in digital format. Rather than collecting a bunch of USB flash drives or CD discs for projects that include videos, audio files, or power point presentations, students can simply upload them into the teacher's cloud storage system. Once there, the teacher can download them at his or her leisure for ease of grading. There are also security measures that can be put in place to keep students from tampering with each other's projects. Simply set it so that only the administrator can edit files, and guests or students can only upload them.
Classroom in the Clouds
There are situations that arise in which a student cannot enter a classroom or attend normal classes. In these situations, cloud-based classrooms can be ideal. These can include basic text lessons, or can be as advanced as to include video lessons or even live chat sessions with the teacher via instant messenger or video messaging programs like Skype. This is also a vital tool for remote areas of the world where a teacher may not be able to physically attend the classroom. This could be because of the remoteness of the area or simply because the area is contested or dangerous.
This can be an amazing tool for foreign language and geography classes as well. Teachers around the world can set up sessions where students can use Skype to talk to each other. Imagine learning Spanish from a class of students in Spain or Mexico, or French from a class in France. The possibilities are endless and there is no better way to learn a new language than from a native speaker.
Students can try to improve a lot of skills online using online services:
Math – Cool Math
Geography – Browse the World
Reading – WattPad
Science – Jefferson Lab
Students and teachers alike are constantly connected to the internet and social media by cell phones and tablet computers with wireless access. This can be adventurous when it comes to learning as well. Not only will students no longer have any excuse to miss their assignments, as emails and SMS messages can be sent out as reminders, they will be able to access the assignments and homework from anywhere. Teachers can also set up alerts to notify students when a new assignment is uploaded, and even include parent contact information so the parents are notified when projects are assigned and due.
On the other side of this coin, teachers can use the mobile connectivity to expand the lessons beyond the classroom. Maybe a science teacher wants to take his or her students outside for a biology or botany lesson. With traditional lesson plans, students and teachers would be hauling enormous textbooks out into the sun. With this sort of mobile connectivity, students would be able to access the lesson from their cell phone, or the teacher could hold the lesson from an iPad or other tablet device. It adds a new level to classroom instruction that would not be possible without this technology.
This is just a sampling of the advantages presented by the implementation of cloud-based technologies in schools. They are evolving quickly and may soon reach a point where there will be no need for students to attend schools at all, since all learning can be completed via cloud classrooms and mobile devices. Teachers will be able to work from the comfort of their own homes while still bringing knowledge to the next generation.