Cloud computing for teachers

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 | internet

Cloud computing is becoming big business! An increasing number of organisations and individuals no longer buy and maintain their own hardware – they rather rent space on servers of service providers where software (which may also be rented) and data are stored and accessed through the internet.

What is cloud computing?

Previous posts addressed this question:

Cloud computing demystified

Cloud computing in Africa

Cloud computing

In simple terms, cloud computing is internet computing – a cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet. In this context, the cloud has nothing to do with the candy floss floating around in the sky, but the use of the term is derived from diagrams explaining the way in which the internet is used as an interface between users and service providers.

The cloud is an icon for the internet


Can teachers benefit from cloud computing?

Yes, of course! Cloud computing is not just for big business. The principles of cloud computing can be put to great use by teachers.

What is required?

You need a device – it could be a PC, a laptop, a netbook, or even one of the smaller portable devices like a cell phone, as long as the device can access the internet. You don’t even have to own a device. You can use a computer at an internet cafe, or use a computer at your school.

What about software programs?

Office applications (such as a word processor) and e-mail programmes are available on most devices; it they’re not, free opensource tools can be accessed via the internet.

Where do I store my data?

You store it on the internet. Many sites exist on the internet where you can store your data for free. For example, text files can be stored on Google – you might have heard about Google Docs. You can store photographs (loads of them) on sites such as Flickr. Even blogs can be published at no cost on websites owned by others. To keep tabs on where you’ve stored what, free storage for your catalogue is available on bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Diigo.

You don’t need any storage space of your own, although most of you will be too nervous to trust your work to an invisible cloud, and may opt for making a backup copy on a data stick – other than that, you need no device to store data! If you lose your device, no problem – your data is safe – simply find another piece of equipment to access your precious files. And when you travel, you can retrieve, store and manipulate your data even if you are on the other side of the planet.

Where’s the catch?

Aah, but don’t you need broadband for all of that (meaning a super strong, fast – and expensive – internet connection)? Non-sence! A narrow band, even a dial-up connection could do the trick. True, such connection may be slower, but you will still be able to access your data. The access requirements of an average user are not so high that you need the fastest internet access speed. (Although, I must confess, the faster, the better!) In any event, connectivity is becoming less of an issue today than it was before.

You may already be engaging in cloud computing without being aware of it. Think about it – if you are on Facebook or Twitter … where is your data stored? In the clouds, of course!

Teachers, cloud computing is for you too – an affordable, easy way to make the best of what technology offers you.

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5 Comments to Cloud computing for teachers

Mark C
Friday, 8 October, 2010

I like this post. I started reading up on this issue recently and it is looking more attractive each day. I don’t know how many flash sticks and hard drives I can carry with me anymore. There are quite a number of advantages here and I think schools can benefit. Examples are online storage space, blogs, creating their own “closed” blog or face-book type environment, buying and storing music online etc.

There are myriads of possibilities. The down side for me is the accessibility of an inexpensive and reliable internet connection.

With mobile technology cloud computing will become more of a reality e.g. twitter, facebook, etc. I cannot think of any subject that cannot benefit cloud computing. On top of it they are using OSS. Great!

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Friday, 8 October, 2010

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Monday, 11 October, 2010

I am very cautions of viruses carried by the multiple flash drives that visited infected areas. Who do you trust and who do you blame?

It is much easier to access my documents at a school from Google docs, that to take the risk of viruses through USB devices.

Another reason/motivation why schools must have internet access in their labs!

Mark C
Monday, 11 October, 2010

As our internet becomes more reliable in future we will rely more and more on cloud computing. We used Googledocs but found the access too slow at times and connectivity is lost. I assume you have Gears installed to use Googledocs offline. I don’ t know how this works. So, if you have used it, maybe you can enlighten me.

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