Facebook
Edutopia on Facebook
Twitter
Edutopia on Twitter
Google+
Edutopia on Google+
Pinterest
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

I've been thinking about cloud technology over the past few weeks and thought I would share a few great reasons why educators should consider making the move into the cloud.

Back It Up

This is the third time I am writing this post. Yes, the third time. I normally type up a post and keep it in the cloud to cut, paste and post. I was trying the Blogger app on my phone and saved this post twice with the intent of going back to it for edits. For whatever reason, the posts were blank. Twice. #Idiot

By keeping documents in the cloud, they will safely sit in a folder waiting to be edited and shared when I want. They will not vanish into the ether or be whisked away by gremlins. If all of my devices were to become sentient and run away, my documents would be safe and secure in the cloud to be accessed by whatever devices were available.

Cootie Protection

Kids are germ factories. I don't say that to be mean, but kids are pretty gross. By utilizing the cloud, students will no longer have to submit germ-laden assignments for the teacher to thumb through. Documents can be shared into folders, accessed by students and re-submitted into a return folder. A healthy teacher is a happy teacher.

Sharing Is Caring

We are living in a world where collaboration is essential. Utilizing the cloud allows for sharing in a way that was never possible before. Groups can edit documents and share quickly and easily. As we strive to show students the value of collaboration, it's important to practice what we preach.

I'm involved in multiple group documents at any given moment. Cloud storage allowed a group of strangers to plan edcamp Detroit last year, and it is helping bring the 2012 version together. This approach to creation has made the process so much stronger.

Email Shmemail

After school I am no longer tethered to my email account, sharing file after file of my epic lesson plans. As we know, size matters when it comes to email. If the file is too large, you can't send it. The cloud helps solve that problem.

While there are size restraints on some cloud storage options, most offer reasonable rates for larger storage. Sharing one link with a colleague can allow them access to all of my files. They can pick and choose the documents they want throughout the year without the extra step of making email requests. It makes sharing easier for you and your friends.

Tree Huggers Smile

Going paperless sounds very trendy. Saving trees makes everyone feel good, but only if there are no disruptions in the workflow. Utilizing the cloud allows you to stop printing and start sharing. When documents available in one place can be accessed from anywhere, there's no need to print things out for the office or school. Students can have access to any information a teacher wants without worrying about losing handouts.

The amount of time you will save by not being at the copier will simply blow your mind. I'm talking triple rainbow mind blowing. This half of the year alone, I have saved hours that I used to spend waiting for things to copy or fixing jams left by others. This time has been used to plan and tweak projects as well as work 1:1 with students. It has been one of the best parts of going paperless.

These are just a few of my reasons for making the move to the cloud. It is still an evolving field with new ways to use it. Keep an eye out for the cloud system that best suits you. Until then, keep your head in the clouds.




Comments (6)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Claudia's picture

I am a fan of Dropbox and even subscribe to Carbonite for automated backup of selected personal files on my computer. Convenience outweighs my serious concern about confidentiality and mistrust of service providers that I cannot see.

Non-proprietary information, such as your own lesson plans and reference lists, stored in the cloud for public access surely offers convenience. How do you ensure that students have a safe area for posting work? How confident are you that group collaboration is really done as a group? How do you retrieve everything if you move to another provider? What happens if your lesson plan in the Cloud is not available? I'm not a naysayer, but I'm a very cautious adopter of Cloud services.

Nicholas Provenzano's picture
Nicholas Provenzano
High School English Teacher/The Nerdy Teacher
Blogger

You raise some good questions and I'll do my best to answer them.

You ask about a "safe area" for students to post work. I'm not sure what you mean by safe. Do you mean a place where others can't access it? I have shared folders with individual students that allows us to share work without others seeing it.

As for group collaboration, how does any teacher really know the whole group is working. The cloud doesn't ensure the whole groups works, just that working in groups can be easier. Getting kids to work is not a cloud issue, but a teaching/engagement issue.

Dropbox, for one, allows for easy download of information. If I want to switch providers, I can download anything I want to move and upload it to the other service.

As for lesson plan access, what do you do if you forget your lesson plan at home? The same thing all good teachers do, wing it. If you created the lesson, you should know what you were going to do that day. I understand the concern, but I don't know of many teachers that need to follow the script word for word to teach that day. Most are rough outlines of objectives and the students are guided to pointe along the way. I think that is a different post topic though.

Concerns Iocer Cloud storage are valid and the entire system is still in its infancy, but from my experience it had been helpful in my classroom.

I hope I answered some your questions and thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

- NP

M. A. Hauck, M.Ed's picture
M. A. Hauck, M.Ed
Life Skills Support Teacher

This represents another assault on personal autonomy. I could not relinquish so much control over my data to some gigantic faceless entity. Just the title alone "Cloud" doesn't inspire confidence. A cloud is just a big puff of gas. It's just another trendy development from the Silicon Valley bunch that makes the nerdy hearts go a-flutter.

I'll rely on storing my data on my own in my own home or office where I know it's safe and under my own control.

J_Everhart383's picture

Nick,
Great post. I have been using cloud computing for several types of assignments lately. Using something like Google Docs, as opposed to Dropbox, does allow the teacher to "check in" on group work, not so much to ensure that it is being done as a group(that is what peer review is for), but to understand how students collaborate and break up assignments. Check out a post I have on the subject here if you are interested:http://jeffeverhart.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/using-cloud-computing-for-c...
-J

Mrs. CD's picture
Mrs. CD
8th Grade Language Arts Teacher

Nick,
I enjoyed reading your post about cloud technology. It seems that even though I have used this technology since a year or two ago, that I am still anxious about knowing where the best area to store is, etc. I guess I am still relatively new to cloud storage, and was wondering if there are any particular ones that you recommend. Sending files back and forth can sometimes be a pain, and sometimes I just need them for myself.

Additionally, have your students used cloud storage with great success?

jlaustiff's picture
jlaustiff
8th Grade LA Teacher, Instructor for Teaching with Primary Sources for GSU

Recently,in my UofI graduate course, we had a guest speaker from Illini Cloud. For those of you who aren't familiar with Illini Cloud it is cloud computing resource for school districts in Illnois (starting to filter into neighboring states). The Cloud has three data centers set up throughout Illinois that allows districts to share hardware, application, and tech support. Illini Cloud is a great opportunity for school districts who have limited resources and want to expand the resources that they currently have in place. There are over 150 schools that have joined the initiative that was started over three years ago. Schools are saving up to 60% during these hard budget times! illinicloud.net

Sign in and Join the Discussion! Not a member? Register to join the discussion.