Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ahead in the Cloud

I love cloud computing. Cloud computing refers to having your files and content stored not on the physical computer, but rather "in the cloud" that is the Internet. In a cloud your information is no longer tied to a specific computer or device but can be accessed from any computer. So you don't rely on the computer hardrive or flashdrive. In a recent workshop I commented to the group that if my computer fell in a lake I would be sad, but it wouldn't be the catastrophic event it would have once been because I have some of my content stored online.

Now there are drawbacks to being in the cloud. In order to get to your stuff you have to be online, and if you can't connect to the Internet, you can't get to your data. In addition, you must be willing to give into the idea that your data is online, and security for that data is in the hands of an online entity. There is a trust issue with cloud computing, so I don't plan to have all of my data online. But if Google wants to scan through my Google docs for my Powerpoint presentation files or my fantasy football draft 2008 spreadsheet, so be it. If the price for having all my delicious bookmarks available to me all the time from any computer is having them available to everyone, then count me in. And many of us have used some form of web-based email account (or accounts) for years. Now most of the applications I use on a daily basis could be described as cloud applications.

I'm not the only one that is onboard with cloud computing and thinks it could impact the future of education. The 2009 Horizon Report, which identifies emerging technology trends in education, listed cloud computing as one of the six technologies likely to enter future mainstream adopted use in K-12 education within the next two to three years. Part of the draw is how easy it is to collaborate using cloud applications, but another benefit that might drive this will be the money saved. When data is in the cloud (in most cases) you're not paying to store and back it all up. At this time I am using 24 MB (0%) of my 7323 MB inbox. And in a cloud, you don't spend funds on software. I'm not sure I would spend any money on programs that need to be installed on a workstation or server because in many cases there is a good web-based alternative that is often free.

Sometime soon maybe all students will really need on a computer will be a browser; everything else could be up in the cloud.


Mrs. Edwards said...

I "discovered" this a few months ago when I went to several conferences (AG, Technology, Creativity . . . ). Since I like to take notes (and write everything down), I found it much easier to post my notes on my wiki or blog so I could have access to them anywhere to be able to share them or refer back to them. I have also liked being able to post templates for students rather than trying to go around and load them on every computer they are using. I also have found that by having students do assignments on the blog or wiki, it has reduced how much paper stuff I have to take home :) The projects they have done can be shown to their parents or others and I still have a copy too.

Emory said...

Great points Melissa. I also wonder if your having your students working with blogs and wikis rather than pencils and paper is better preparation for their future. Thanks for the comments.

John Downs said...

I like that Article, Emory!