As the past year has shown, cloud computing has proved a vital service for K–12 public schools. It’s enabled online learning during a time of critical need, and the schools who have embraced cloud adoption have thrived and will continue to do so
Let’s look at the ways the cloud is changing public school education today—and some of the common bumps administrators and IT teams should avoid along the way.
How Is Cloud Computing Used in Schools?
A March 2020 study
showed 82% of education institutions host their email or productivity systems in the cloud, 52% leverage cloud-based learning management systems (LMSs), and 39% store curriculum content in the cloud.
An important benefit of the cloud for educators and their students is that it enables a rich, personalized, collaborative, and immersive learning experience using technology many kids are already accustomed to using.
Educators also benefit. Cloud-based lesson planning and classroom management resources can streamline curriculum development, provide insights into student understanding, and help teachers better respond to student needs.
Finally, the cloud eliminates the costly and time-consuming task of managing and maintaining on-site systems. This reduces operational costs and gives IT staff the flexibility to scale computing resources up and down as needed, such as during grading periods or remote learning.
What Are the Challenges of Accelerated Cloud Adoption in Schools?
There are several important, yet often overlooked, issues public school systems should consider before making the move to the cloud:
- The network: In the rush to embrace the benefits of cloud computing, it can be easy to overlook a key area of a school system’s IT infrastructure: the network.
The key to ensuring consistent service and performance for end users is visibility. Before, during, and after a school system migrates to a cloud environment, network administrators must be able to see and understand network behavior in terms of bandwidth utilization and latency and stay up to date on every network operation front.
- Automation: IT leaders should also look to automate network tasks wherever possible. Automation can streamline operations and reduce the risk for human error, the leading cause of network downtime.
One area ripe for automation is network configuration management. By automating these routine-but-cumbersome tasks, network administrators can offload the challenge of ensuring devices are configured correctly.
Depending on the risk appetite of the school, automated network configuration practices like software-defined networking (SDN) can also be used to scale networks more efficiently, even across hybrid IT deployments where a school’s IT infrastructure straddles the cloud and on-premises.
- Talent: School administrators should invest in training IT teams to be “cloud-ready” and identify and elevate the right skill sets from within. A new agile mindset must also be nurtured.
In Unpredictable Times, the Cloud Is a Win for Public Schools
As the cloud continues to win the popularity contest in public schools, it’s proving itself a win for both distance-based and in-school learning. Schools investing in the technologies needed to deliver educational continuity and a quality experience for students and staff will be the ones best positioned to ensure they and their community of learners thrive—today and tomorrow.
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