The technological world is an ever-growing organism which is in a constant state of advancement. Sometimes, when I feel like I just learned how to do something, the new and improved version gets introduced. I remember (back in the day) creating any kind of document meant saving it multiple times (just so nothing got lost) onto a computer, floppy disc, or a compact disc. Then along came the USB and things were a little easier. All files could be stored on the USB (depending on amount of memory) and easily taken to another computer to open and work on. What a wonderful advancement in technology! Just when I thought nothing could beat a USB, along came “the cloud” more specifically, cloud computing. A more wonderful way to store and share virtually anything the user wants with anyone they want. Never heard of cloud computing? Keep on reading and I will explain a few things I have learned and how cloud computing has helped me as a teacher and a learner.
What Exactly is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is “the practice of storing software on servers that are accessed through the Internet” (Roblyer, 2016). Čandrlić (2013) explains cloud computing and “the cloud” more thoroughly:
Basically, programs that are needed to run a certain application are now more popularly located on a remote machine, owned by another company. This is done in order not to lose on the quality performance due to processing power of your own computer, to save money on IT support, and yet remain advantageous on the market. These computers that run the applications, store the data, and use a server system, are basically what we call “the cloud”.
Simple and convenient it almost makes saving work on a USB stick a tedious and time-consuming practice.
Broad Examples of Cloud Computing
There are many types of cloud computing software in the world. One of the major players (and my favourite) is Google, but some others are Amazon, IBM and Dell. These technology conglomerates all offer individuals and businesses a range of cloud based solutions (Gordon & Marchesini, 2010). Cloud computing does not just mean work oriented, i.e. documents, spreadsheets etc. (to me at first, it did). Cloud computing also extends into the fun stuff like social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, Twitter) and the cloud does not stop there. Email accounts are also considered part of the cloud. There are also types of “clouds” such as, the public cloud, (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, OpenStack) where the entire computing infrastructure is located where the cloud computing company, offering the service, is located. This location is separate from the user. There is also the private cloud (Microsoft, OpenStack) where “the cloud” being used is only by one customer or organization, it is not shared with other users and is remotely located. There is also a hybrid cloud where the user can use both private and public clouds, depending on their purpose (Čandrlić, 2013).
Precise Example of Cloud Computing
Above I gave broad examples of what some cloud computing developers/corporations are, but broad examples do not give a precise idea of what cloud computing services these corporations offer. Google services, now known (to some) as GSuite, are how I became familiar with the whole cloud computing revolution. Google offers many different options in the cloud computing world and, depending on the user, tend to be very user friendly. All documents, spreadsheets, charts, pictures and whatever else the user uses Google for are saved on “the cloud.” There is no need to ever press the save button because every keystroke, edit or change made on anything in the GSuite repository is automatically saved. Where is it saved? In the cloud. Not only is it saved in the cloud, but it is easily accessible wherever there is an Internet connection. Download the Google Drive app on your phone or tablet and all files are accessible on them. Therefore social-networking sites and email are also considered to be part of cloud computing. All data, conversations, and profile information is stored online for the user to easily access.
What Cloud Computing Means in the Classroom
As a teacher, quick and efficient is a necessity. Engaging students is also another major factor in the classroom and cloud computing has been able to help with student engagement. The ability, of a student, to be able to access all his/her work anywhere, at anytime, if there is an Internet connection, is awesome! Another plus for having work stored on “the cloud” is it allows both teachers and students to go paperless, which is also awesome! No more “the dog ate my homework” excuses!
Remote communities may not have suitable access to an Internet connection, which means going back to downloading and saving work to an external device to work on elsewhere.The sharing aspect of cloud applications is also great for student engagement because students (and teachers) can share, write, and/or edit any work at the same time. The downfall is the online part of “the cloud”.
As a Teacher and As a Learner
Cloud computing has been a huge asset to my life as a teacher and as a learner. As a teacher, it has allowed me to connect with my students on new level. As I mentioned above, “the cloud” which in my world is the Google Cloud, has allowed me to go virtually paperless. Students (and me) can access work at home, without worrying about forgetting it at school or at home once completed. As a learner, it has given me the freedom and the ability to connect with others through collaborating and sharing. Thanks to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook I have (recently) began to develop a more well-rounded Personal Learning Network.
Final Thoughts and Links
Cloud computing is really a great advancement in technology. It gives the user freedom in their working/learning life to be doing what they need to do anywhere at anytime without the hassle of having to download and/or save work. With the efficiency of cloud computing, this user wonders where technology will take me next. Want more information? Click on the links to read more about cloud computing:
Čandrlić, G. (2016, October 05). Types of Cloud Computing Explained
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching, 7th Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781323564905