Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why cloud computing will NOT fail

Last year at school we had an IT retreat and each member of the department made a 5 minute presentation about a subject of choice.  We had presentations about Web 2.0, 1:1 laptop programmes and robotics as well as one about why (in his opinion) cloud computing would fail.  Only months after that I attended the Google Teacher Academy in London and on my return to school we started using Google Apps for Education with our Grade 4s and 5s initially, and then with a roll out to the Middle School and to any other classes that wanted to use it.  Teachers were given support for blogging and using Google Docs and just-in-time training for any Web 2.0 tools that they wanted to use to embed into their blogs.  As I reflect back on this year the impact has been huge - teachers have gradually taken control of how these tools are used in their own classes and how they communicate with parents using them.  As a result I've decided I will change the student website to a "resources only" website next year, everything the students are producing can easily be showcased on the class blogs.

The Horizon Report K-12 lists cloud computing as one of the technologies most likely to have a large impact on teaching and learning over the coming year.  Partly this is because of the fact that it is saving schools money and resources by providing storage and services to internet users without the need to invest in and support physical machines.  As IT coordinator in my previous school a large part of my budget was taken up each year on software, this year I've seen our department spend less than $400 on software.  Students have created multimedia, used email, created documents and presentations and started their own blogs/ePortfolios all using a browser.  One great advantage we have seen is that students can start working on something at school and continue accessing their work at home.  Another advantage has been the collaboration we have seen with the introduction of Google Docs.  Our teachers have noticed that we can now be much more flexible than before, as we are not limited by the times students are physically present in the computer lab, and as as result students have become much more creative and have real choices about what they use to show what they know.

Photo Credit: Descending Clouds by Gary Hayes AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works 


  1. Good post! The cloud can drastically change the way we teach and learn.

  2. Our school has had a similar reduction in the amount spent on software, now that students are able to present their learning in appropriate ways using web tools. We have however begun spending on subscriptions to sites like Edublogs, Toondoo Spaces, Glogster and Voicethread as they provide worthwhile environments for learning. Our teachers are also seeing the value of the students cloud based learning - no more tedious sessions of students watching endless PowerPoint presentations. They can view inquiries via the class blog in their own time, and are able to reflect and comment appropriately.

  3. Hi Linda,
    We have started looking at subscriptions too as well as the education versions of some of these tools such as Glogster. This year we have a subscription for Animoto and we have investigated one for VoiceThread. However most of the time we have found that we have everything we need if each class creates its own log-in to the tools, or if the students log in using their Google Apps for Education accounts. We also publish their work on class blogs and the Grades 4 and 5 students have their own blogs which they use as ePortfolios, so they view and comment on each other's work and they reflect on their own. We still do some class presentations of course - but they look different now as students have a lot more choice of tools they can use.