As with so many areas of our lives, from working to socialising, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on education. Not only have the successive lockdown periods caused schools, colleges and universities to send students home to learn, but crucial exams have been cancelled and new ways of assessment introduced.
The Rise Of Cloud Technology In Education
Thankfully, the availability of cloud computing has meant that many students have been able to continue their learning, even without access to their usual teachers or resources. Just as it was hailed as the saviour of many businesses around the globe, cloud computing has been praised by educators as a transformational tool in keeping students on track over the last twelve months.
Statistics show a steep increase in the use of cloud computing technologies in education. It was predicted that 2020 would see a rise in cloud adoption by the education sector, which prior to then had made little impact in the UK. However, the arrival of the Covid pandemic sent this adoption rate skyrocketing, leading the educational technology (EdTech) sector to grow by a staggering 72%, mostly attributed to cloud computing.
Now, it’s expected that the sector will continue to expand. Key areas of the UK’s EdTech offering are likely to include augmented reality (AR), which saw a growth of 119% over the last year. AR can be used to add elements such as text, graphics and sounds to real-world environments, as is already proving a popular feature in some museums’ educational resources.
Other growth areas include digital classrooms, which are centred on the use of software and tech devices and grew by 65% in 2020, and Software as a Service (SaaS) which grew by 57% over the same period. The number of job vacancies in EdTech organisations increased in the UK, too, with a reported 56% rise in volume compared to a 40% rise in other technology vacancies. This rise is despite EdTech firms currently comprising just 5% of the UK’s total number of technology companies, although this figure too is likely to grow.
Cloud Computing Offers Many Advantages
There are many benefits to introducing cloud computing technologies to the education sector. Institutions have reported that it has offered vital continuity to higher education students, thanks to the increase of available digital textbooks and other virtual resources. With university and college libraries closed, partnerships with businesses such as Perlego have enabled ongoing access to over half a million academic texts.
Cloud computing is also an effective means of offering support. Intelligent chatbots, which can store information about the needs and preferences of individual learners, are enabling a truly tailored experience for each learner. Built into Learning Management Systems (LMS), AI powered chatbots look likely to be developed further, as they also allow teachers to spend less time responding to routine queries about set work, meaning that they can work more efficiently as a result.
Learners can also benefit from studying at their own pace; with cloud computing enabling access to resources such as online lectures, they can work on assignments when it’s best for them. There is also the capability to work collaboratively with other students in real-time, helping to build essential skills for the future.
Most importantly for institutions, cloud computing is also an extremely cost-effective option. Universities especially are reporting savings of thousands of pounds. By using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) there is no longer a need to maintain a full on-premise IT infrastructure. Not only is it a cheaper solution but opting for cloud-based services is also extremely secure, scalable and flexible, making it an increasingly attractive proposition.
It certainly looks likely that we will see more cloud computing factored into the delivery of education in the UK. There is still plenty of scope for future innovation, making it an exciting time indeed for tech entrepreneurs and educators alike.