Out of the classroom and into the clouds

For a long time, teaching has been confined to the four walls of a room, strictly associated with a teacher, accompanied by a whiteboard, and taught through textbooks.

There is nothing wrong with the above scenario. On the contrary: it was a huge success in previous centuries. Particularly during the twentieth century, traditional education, science, and technology contributed to immense progress: one key example being that life expectancy increased from 43 to 76 years on average during that period.

However, in the first two decades of this century, much has happened. Now, our students are all connected via virtual environments at all times. Therefore, the adoption of new technologies and innovative methodologies is no longer an option for institutions and educators, becoming a sine qua non: a non-negotiable.

Quality meets quantity

The most relevant advantage of these new technologies is that, in theory, we have the opportunity to fulfill an educational promise that we have never carried out before: combining quality with quantity. It becomes feasible to expand the quality of education precisely because we can now reach more students than ever before.

We abandon the concept that to be excellent, education can only be offered to a select few, for a new paradigm: to educate well, there must be many actors involved, plenty of data and strong analytical capacity.

In other words, the more information available, the more we can know each student and, because we know him or her better, we can design and provide more compatible, personalized, and effective learning paths.

Leveraging cloud computing

Cloud computing, is one of the indispensable tools in this quest for quality education that is accessible to everyone, available anytime and anywhere, customizable for each educational context and purpose and, especially, personalized. Progressively, education, with gains for its specific purposes, will have its “head” fully incorporated into the Cloud.

Cloud is a complex technology that shifts the emphasis hitherto concentrated on computer networks installed in a specific location to a totally virtual space. This is much more efficient, incredibly secure and, practically unlimited in terms of computational capacity. There are many cloud environments available, each with its own characteristics and advantages.

Educating in the cloud

Via the Cloud, it is totally feasible to implement learning environments, shared by students, teachers, and educational managers on intelligent and integrated platforms. This option frees educational institutions, at any level from primary education to higher education, to maintain their own computing centers and other operational and management tools, allowing them to safely concentrate on education.

The adoption of sophisticated learning environments, including virtual rooms accompanied by a permanent learning analytics service and the incorporation of digital content, such as simulation laboratories and multiple realities, are key elements to monitor the performance of each student, allowing educators to customize personalized learning trails in a competent manner.

Weighing the cost

 In terms of the costs involved, it can mean, on a case-by-case basis, extraordinary gains, both from the point of view of the school and of the students. The fundamental ingredient? You only pay for what you use, ensuring an optimal cost-benefit ratio for everyone involved. In addition, education institutions are exempt from permanently updating hardware and software, reducing cost demands, involvement, and time.

Certainly, the educational benefits can be immense in the adoption of the Cloud, for institutions, students and educators alike. The more we invest in the cloud today, the more these innovations will make it possible for everyone to learn all the time and each in their own unique and personalized way.

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Ronaldo Mota

Scientific Director of Digital Pages

Brazilian Academy of Education