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While Educational institutes generally lag in the race to digital transformation, cloud can be the much-needed panacea?

CLOUD COMPUTING TOOLS- The COVID-19 has threatened the fragile normal functioning of the society. With massive shutdown and social distancing measures in place around the world, the pandemic affected industries, schools, lifestyle of the people, and more. Though most of the IT companies resumed working via work from home model, education sector was not successful in following the pursuit. As per data by World Economic Forum, globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom. While change cannot be brought overnight, measures can be taken to assuage the situation. And for this cloud computing is the best enabler for transformation in education.

Cloud computing is an upgraded version of internet computing which espouses virtualization of the computing concepts. Cloud computing has given new dimensions to the business world by addressing the data storage and processing issues and supporting the work from home culture. So experts propose that leveraging cloud tools can also bring a paradigm shift in the education industry. It will not only bring accessibility for millions of students via eLearning, but also provide benefits like lower expenses, efficiency and security.

Traditionally, educational institutes lack financial backing for updating their hardware and software amenities and requirements, in accordance to rapidly changing educational practices. Infrastructure necessities like modern computers are something that lies beyond the financial capacity for most of the rural and remote schools around the world. Cloud frees schools from such bottlenecks and improves digital equity which can allow the teachers and school authorities to focus only the welfare of their pupils. As mentioned earlier, by taking classes to online, cloud platforms offer accessibility to the latest technologies and tools at fractional cost, irrespective of the size. For instance, The Wild Rose school division in rural Canada, comprises of 19 schools and a student count of 4,800 students. For years, this school division maintained its own data center to cater to its data requirements. Though soon it became an inconvenience on the economic front. Therefore, the storage was shifted to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. This resulted in savings of around CD$12,000 per year while the IT crew was freed up to do other work.

It also facilitates remote learning where students and teachers can collaborate and interact with peers, irrespective of their locations. It is also slightly greener alternative as cloud storage system mean the no more textbooks, and significant reduction in amount of photocopying due to data availability which is a click away. Also, no more file cabinets of scores of papers as data is digitalized along with additional layer of authentication security. Further, it allows schools save upfront costs on software licenses that are expensive, require repurchase to latest version and also consume a lot of time and effort. Cloud computing also offers flexibility to students since it enables them to study and learn wherever and whenever they want, thus making lesson plans easier and accurate.

Besides, thanks to technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, and AI, companies are now investing heavily in bringing cloud features and tools to impart eLearning and immersive learning too, especially via intellectual simulations. For instance, company Knowledge Matters creates cloud-based business simulations that mimic situations students can encounter in a business environment. Its’ Virtual Business lessons cover a wide range of topics about industries, like accounting, fashion, retail, sports, management, hospitality and personal finance.

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