Guest Author: Nancy Lake
“Mom! Mom! Do you want to see our school project? I’m working on it with Jordan and Avery.” These were the words out of my eleven-year old as he rushed in the door.
“Sure…” He had nothing in his hands, and thankfully, his friends weren’t with him this time as I didn’t have any “good food” (cookies) to offer them today. “Where is it? Is it in your back-pack?”
“No…it’s on the computer,” he replied. I expected him to get his flash drive to show me. “It’s in the cloud Mom, on Google Docs.”
The cloud? Google Docs? What was he talking about? Perhaps you’ve had this conversation with your own child…
For those of you who are just joining me, the Horizon Report has identified various emerging technologies that will impact the educational community within the next five years. The report breaks it down into various time frames for adoption: one year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. According to the report, “Cloud Computing” will impact our educational communities in the next twelve months or less. And as my son was showing me, they were right…
First of all, what is “cloud computing”? As my tech explained it to me, it is a network of servers and other computers that power the Internet. Traditionally (if that can be said in a business that is less than 10 years old) businesses hosted their own network servers, had their own technicians, did their own trouble-shooting, etc. With cloud computing, businesses can take advantage of larger servers and services, and concentrate on their business models instead of their server space and various tech issues. They only pay for the computing power that they use. It is kind of like paying for the taxi fare, rather than paying for the taxi. Some cloud applications that you may be familiar with are Dropbox, Flickr, Gmail, Quicken, TeacherTube, MobileMe, etc. Information is stored in the “cloud,” rather than on your home computer.
What does all of this mean for education? What does it mean for your child?
At RVS, we are using some cloud applications like Google Docs to facilitate student learning and collaboration. Students can create, modify, and share documents (spreadsheets, presentations, forms, calendars, etc.) with one another, with their teachers, and with their parents. They can collaborate in a new and exciting way. They can access their work from anywhere, whether it is at school, at home, or on vacation. They can retrieve it with any device including desktop or laptop computers, and mobile devices such as iPads, iPods, and cell phones. Most students in our middle schools and high schools have an email account with our domain.
Secondly, there is a cost savings in terms of hardware (servers), software, and even IT support. With limited budgets, cloud computing helps us meet the growing needs of our students and staff.
Perhaps the best way for you to experience it, is to ask your child to show you what Google Docs can do. What types of projects are they doing in their classroom? As my son has shown me, students can collaborate with their classmates, with students across town, or students around the world.
Watch this short video that demonstrates how teachers and principals are using Google Docs.
Please comment on how your children/students are using the “cloud”. This could be a great place to share information and ideas with one another. Having your head in the clouds is a fantastic way to promote collaboration. Thanks in advance for participating!
About the Author: I am a teacher currently working with the 21st Century Learning Team at Rocky View Schools. I have been teaching for eleven years, both in Canada and overseas, in the classroom and online, and am excited about the possibilities of dynamic blended learning environments for elementary and middle school students. I am a Moodler, a Mahoodlum, but most importantly, a Mother.