Apr 06 2020

How the Cloud Enhances Workflow for K–12 Administrators

With cloud computing, administrators can collaborate and communicate with staff anywhere, anytime.

Cloud computing has become a popular tool for schools in the past several years.

“Every industry is being transformed by the cloud, and education is no exception,” Dan Ayoub, general manager of Microsoft Education, tells EdTech.

In fact, 90 percent of K–12 school districts that responded to CoSN’s 2018 Infrastructure Survey reported using the cloud for storage, while 88 percent said they used cloud-based software systems.

With the cloud, districts can save on the infrastructure costs and space that come with maintaining hardware, Ayoub explains. Plus, moving to the cloud can ease IT staff workload and assist educators with managing sensitive data and creating personalized learning experiences for their students.

The cloud also gives school and district administrators the flexibility of communicating and collaborating with colleagues, teachers and parents. That’s even more crucial in times of emergency when schools are pushed to shut their doors and shift to a remote learning and working environment.

K–12 Administrators Accomplish More with the Cloud

Today’s administrators increasingly take advantage of technologies that can improve student learning and help close the achievement gap.

Ninety-seven percent of administrators say that using educational technology is key to preparing students for future success, according to research findings from Project Tomorrow, a national education nonprofit organization.

They’re specifically interested in using technology for seamless learning, both in and out of school, setting up virtual schools and providing students with access to more online courses, among other initiatives, writes Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, in a white paper.

More administrators also use tech solutions to improve their own productivity, Evans writes.

In particular, cloud-based applications streamline workflow for administrators, thanks to features that let users work across multiple platforms simultaneously from any device. Plus, communication becomes more effective and wide-ranging when real-time communication tools such as videoconferencing are integrated into cloud-based software. And at a minimum, many cloud vendors implement security measures that meet data privacy regulations, which can help alleviate potential headaches around student privacy.

MORE ON EDTECH: Discover best practices for securing data in the cloud.

With Cloud-Based Tools, Collaboration Ensues

The cloud also lets administrators access their work anywhere, at any time, and helps them manage their team of educators without needing to be in the same room.

Productivity suites such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G Suite Enterprise for Education give administrators the digital tools they need to collaborate on learning initiatives and projects.

Office 365 integrates well-known programs such as Word, PowerPoint and Outlook with cloud-based services like OneDrive and Microsoft Teams, which administrators can leverage to share documents and resources with each other and keep track of what educators and staff are working on, even when school buildings are closed.

Similarly, G Suite Enterprise for Education comes with apps that seamlessly connect, giving administrators the ability to efficiently tackle numerous tasks, from scheduling meetings to co-editing files in real time.

READ MORE: Find the right cloud solution for your district’s storage needs.

Videoconferencing Technology Transforms Collaboration with Staff

Cloud-based videoconferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams also enable administrators to connect with staff, even when schools are closed. By creating a “staff team,” they can schedule virtual meetings that come with content sharing and whiteboard capabilities, recreating in-person collaboration. When integrated with OneNote, administrators can also keep schoolwide and districtwide discussions organized and make important documents easy for all staff to reference to during meetings.

Other solutions give administrators access to features that help ensure meeting participants are engaged and providing input in discussions, even if they’re not communicating face-to-face. For example, Google recently updated Hangouts Meet to enhance the experience for their education users, allowing only meeting creators and calendar owners to mute or remove participants in a meeting. And Zoom’s videoconferencing software allows meeting hosts to create virtual “breakout rooms” to split a meeting into separate sessions.

Whether by empowering students in the classroom or assisting administrators with their work remotely, cloud technology is transforming education and opening up new doors for teaching and learning.

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