At the beginning of the edtech wave, superintendents saw many benefits from using digital resources in the classroom. But, they also saw a large number of resources being recommitted to just this one aspect of education: space for server farms, money for hardware and software upgrades, overworked personnel, etc. District IT offices were taking on the same tasks as Fortune 500 companies without the ability to implement them as effectively.
For administrators looking to take the focus of edtech away from upkeep and back to learning, moving to the cloud could be the answer. Presenters of the edWebinar, “Cloud Computing: Taking Advantage of the Latest Technologies,” which is part of the Empowered Superintendents edWebinar series, shared their reasons for switching to the cloud, how it has helped their schools, and their advice when making the transition.
While the presenters named several reasons they chose to move to the cloud, their top reason was equitable access to edtech. First, all programs are accessible to all students and teachers. Before, for instance, it was possible that each third grade classroom would have a science app of varying quality. With the cloud, teachers select the most effective program, and it’s available to all. In addition, students don’t need specific devices or operating systems to use the digital resources. If they can get to the web, they can do homework, see teacher comments, and do anything else they might in the classroom. Other reasons for migrating to the cloud include potential cost-savings, the simplicity of having all resources in one place, and increased reliability and decreased outages.
Once they moved their educational resources to the cloud, the presenters found several key benefits:
- Staff efficiencies: Initially, IT staff worried about their jobs. In actuality, moving software maintenance offsite meant they could focus more on working with students and teachers to get the most out of the digital resources. Teachers also spent less time troubleshooting tech issues.
- Cost-effectiveness: All of the presenters saw projected cost savings become reality, especially since there are no more one-use, one-classroom programs. Now, when the school adds a program, it benefits multiple constituencies.
- Elasticity: User licenses, storage, and services can be added and subtracted as needed.
- Analytics: Now, administrators know how many teachers and students are using a program, how often, and how effectively. The detailed data helps administrators make informed purchasing decisions.