Industries: Cloud computing in educational services
The traditional model for educational systems mirrors the age of industrialization in which it originated. Children gathered in one place, much like how workers entered factories. Curricula were standardized to produce workers with the same set of basic skills. Those who wanted to broaden their employment prospects beyond the assembly line went to college to attain specializations.
Now that we’re in the Information Age, the education model must become vastly different from what it once was. While the basic skills that were valued in the Industrial Age are still useful and necessary, these may be insufficient in an increasingly digital world. In short, since the world has become more digital, schools must change as well.
One of the ways in which educational services providers can remodel themselves for the 21st century is by upgrading teaching strategies and tools to meet the needs of 21st-century students. Here are the ways that cloud computing can do just that:
Cloud computing lets schools shift from its factory-based model to a competency-based model
In the traditional factory-based model, students are grouped together according to age or ability, taught at the same pace using the same print materials and lectures in fixed time allocations, assessed in recall-heavy testing formats, and allowed to advance based on time spent in the classroom and passing grades. This is severely limiting for learners because:
- Individuals learn at different paces
- Individuals best absorb lessons in different ways (i.e., visually, aurally, kinetically); and
- Students are incentivized to study to pass tests instead of acquiring skills
The competency-based education model
On the other hand, this model factors in the individual needs of students and focuses on ensuring that they gain mastery of skills by:
- Building schedules that allow for modular and personalized learning
- Providing learning assets just-in-time and in multiple formats to accommodate different learning styles
- Using performance-based tasks to assess skills mastery, with assessments used to help educators determine knowledge gaps; and
- Allowing students to advance based on demonstrations of mastery regardless of seat-time.
The cloud enables the implementation of competency-based instruction by making teaching assets, assessment tools, and performance records accessible via the internet for students, faculty, and parents as well. This ease of access allows educators to administer regular lectures to average students, advanced lessons for fast learners, and special intensives or workshops for those who need the extra help or learn better via non-traditional modes of learning. Accessibility also lets educators edit their lesson plans, teaching materials, and assessments as soon as they need to.
Moreover, ease of access enables educators to administer impromptu skills assessments so that students can advance to the next lesson as soon as they’re ready. It even creates multiple opportunities for assessing subject matter mastery, instead of single ones like semester exams. This significantly shortens the iterative process: Instead of making students repeat classes because of failing marks, they can simply be assisted in areas where they are performing poorly.
The cloud enables educators to move away from the teacher-student hierarchy
The idea that educators are gatekeepers of knowledge who facilitate one-way learning is outdated. With the world’s knowledge being just an internet connection away, students can learn what they want to learn on their own. Additionally, new technologies disrupt the status quo more frequently and more dramatically, requiring individuals to learn how to adapt to change more quickly.
All of this ultimately means that the focus of education must shift away from a model that spoon feeds educational content to one that allows students to immerse themselves in the messy and ever-shifting world of information. Indeed, the cloud helps hold content for schools and universities. However, what’s emerging as more important than textbook intelligence are:
- Information skills– being able to validate and assign proper importance to information
- Independence– the ability to operate without having to be told what to do
- Initiative – the ability to determine what needs to be done and take action without prior prompting by other people
- Self-motivation– the ability to achieve goals without external pressure or encouragement
- Agility – the ability to shift quickly in response to change
- Open-mindedness– being receptive to the ideas and opinions of others
- Synergistic teamwork– the ability to accomplish more as a group than when pooled as separate individuals
- Leadership – the ability to organize people to accomplish a common goal.
A more collaborative learning environment
Cloud computing helps educators instill these abilities and qualities in their students by letting them dive deep into collaborative learning environments called “labs.” In these labs, students get to work individually and in teams on simulation-based challenges, participate in group discussions, and work on projects and presentations together. They access course outlines and learning resources in the cloud, and upload and work on their coursework there as well.
For their part, teachers begin with lectures, supply students with all of the online resources they need to complete the lab, and provide support to help pupils progress with their learning. Because everything is in the cloud, educators can easily monitor student productivity, maintain observation notes, track completion credits, and even provide visibility to parents. In a way, these learning labs mimic today’s working environments, wherein staff are assigned deliverables, accomplish their tasks on their own or in teams, and are evaluated based on their efforts and results.
Education needs to be revamped to fit the needs of students in the 21st century, and cloud computing is emerging as the primary tool educators must use. Contact our experts at SimplyClouds to learn more about how your institution can use the cloud to best serve your students.