The cloud’s development over recent decades, contributing to both the emergence and disruption of a global “idea” economy, provides unprecedented opportunities to create monumental shifts in the underlying education system(s) of countries.
Despite all of the potential, adoption of “cloud” has been slow in New Zealand education. With further slides down international education rankings, reported in 2015, including the OECD’s review, educational transformation, arguably, is, broadly, hard to spot. Part of the problem is that schools buy into the Google-hype of students accessing email and files at home or on a BYOD consumer "device", thinking think they've arrived at digital education. Some go as far as claiming Utopian cloud education is through the dangerous-gamification fad, including “MineCraft”, like Google, as the the end point of cloud adoption (regardless of the serious implications for education in gamification).
As an alternative, there are three clear justifications for schools. These enable schools to pursue proper cloud "education as a service" [EAS] which contributes to shifting the system.
The components of EAS incorporates a smorgasbord of service driven technology choice. These include compute power, network resources and storage, through to leading edge strategic education tools, productivity, creativity and or curriculum enablers. With cloud enterprise development platforms, such as Microsoft Azure, services can be designed to change the game. This is by being able integrate enhancement data with multi-layered teaching performance design to produce real time teaching and learning intelligence; and assessment – dispensing with tests and exams. On this basis, EAS enables a shift from top-down prescribed education, driving “faster, quicker, academic ‘”sorting’ machine” of low-end curriculum that is always in serious lag of industry, to a learning-focused system of talent empowerment.
First, the layers that make up EAS pricing models enable schools to be able to procure leading edge solutions, with incredible economies of scale. These services automate, replace and or remove the implications of legacy ICT systems. As an example, "Infrastructure as a Service" [IAS] simplifies, powers up schools while reducing the cost of deployment, as well as that of operating and maintaining ICT infrastructure. Additionally, software defined networking [SDN], which is considered fundamental, enables schools to automatically deploy, distribute and manage broaden and enrich their digital application suite for inclusion to curriculum. SDN in particular provides significant advantage across diverse school environments. In effect, SDN removes the headaches over how ICT access is allocated technically and practically, which were once constrained by the complexities and vagrancies timetable management. This shifts, broadens and deepens the education use-cases and how these affect, where (and or how), all subjects can access ICT cloud services, not just in ICT enabled rooms.
EAS with SDN therefore powers proper education mobility (not BYOD). This brings to life the use of cloud tools beyond Google searching or students playing Angry Birds. Through even the most basic use of productivity applications through Adobe and Microsoft, educators are easily and quickly able free up significant time to transform curriculum. This is by digitising the labour intensive, legacy administration workloads that anchor system to the industrial revolution system. EAS is good news for educators.
Second, cloud based learning systems, through EAS, particularly those aligned to industry certifications, transforms strategic educator and or classroom practitioner development. Rather than professional development occurring through a one hour session, after school for example, as is common, educators gain access to 24/7 cloud based broad and subject specific curriculum, updates, and applications, pre-built or digital assessments. Educators are able to access a plethora of high quality industry certification material which not only focus on cloud, technology skills and or applications, but also in new pedagogical methods of incorporating technology into schools or the classroom.
Points 1 and 2 combine. This is because these elements, through EAS, enables institutions to strategically renew and provides significant strategic agility, for institutions, not just through practitioner development, but across all layers of an environment (or conglomerate environment)
Third, EAS means real time analytics and intelligence, through cloud enterprise development applications. This empowers educators to focus on genuine educational innovation through agile learning methods. Rather than falsifying learning and motivation through gamification, platforms such as Microsoft Azure with tailored and developed cloud teaching and learning applications, transforms student’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivators through real time intelligence, or assessment, on real time learning.
EAS enabled schools differentiate themselves. This is by delivering highly engaging knowledge creation learning programmes, build by cloud enabled, real-time, “BI and analytics”. Real-time, means education performance can be benchmarked down to the student-centred moment of learning, not a test or exam. EAS, therefore, offers students and parents, as well as the schools, and or external authorities, counter-anticipatory measurable and adaptable programmes based on real time intelligence for robust policy, education strategy, programme, planned and actual teaching quality, and with live “assessment”.
As a result, real time demonstrable evidence means parents are able to play a direct or intervening role. Rather than retrospective tests and examinations, no ability for intervention in the learning event, parents are able to engage directly in the immediacy of how well their offspring is developing the crucial skills and values; that they need to contribute, compete and or prosper in a disruptive information era.
When seen holistically, EAS therefore provides the baseline policy prerequisite that establishes the strategic relevance and change-agility in all schools, and quickly; which is needed to regenerate the education system as opposed to a collection of schools defending a tradition, fad or a nostalgic position.
EAS, therefore, starts to inject the integrity, morality and shared responsibility of child development back into education.