A whopping 80 percent of school ed tech leaders say their districts are using cloud-based software, according to exclusive data from EdWeek Market Brief. Of that usage, about four of five district leaders are using cloud-based systems from third-party servers, or those offsite and at less risk of data loss.
From productivity suites to management tools, K–12 schools are finding the cloud to be a successful means to boost efficiency in cost-effective ways.
“I think the cloud has kind of a water wheel effect, where the more we add applications, the more it just feeds off itself and we can derive more efficiencies,” Steven Langford, CIO at Beaverton School District, tells EdTech.
G Suite and Office 365 Enhance Access
One of the biggest ways that schools are making use of the cloud is through productivity suites like Google’s G Suite for Education and Microsoft Office 365. Teachers at Beaverton School District make use of both tools to collaborate with each other and work more efficiently after school.
Students using tools like G Suite also are likely more engaged because they are exposed to more real-time collaboration and feedback. Even the youngest students can take initiative for their own learning because of the ease with which they can connect with their teachers.
Microsoft Teams is the latest in Office 365’s toolbox. The tool acts as a digital classroom hub, where students can have live discussions and teachers can easily distribute assignments, all within the cloud platform.
“Going digital is unique in that it creates accountability for the students,” writes Bear Creek Middle School Principal Anthony Newbold on EdTech. “Assignments are all distributed digitally to their notebooks and channels, so students can work on them wherever they are. It also allows students who miss class an easy way to catch up.”
Cloud Device Management Tools Boost Protection Efficiently
Cloud-based programs that facilitate device management are also popular among K–12 school districts. Tools like Google Management Console allow administrators to easily enroll devices and manage settings by pairing devices with the domain. Because they’re in the cloud, the tools can be scaled up or down based on the size of a device program.
In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, IT uses the Google Management Console to make it easier to enforce safe internet surfing across the entire district.
“While we can customize screens for each child, we can also enforce policies across the entire learning environment,” Valerie Truesdale, chief of technology, personalization and engagement tells EdTech.
Microsoft’s new Intune for Education works similarly by allowing IT to set up student accounts that include the settings and apps each student needs. With the account configurations in the cloud, students can access those tools no matter what Windows 10 device they log in to.