The opportunity to redefine, rethink, and refocus education

7 Jul 2010

By Ken McElrath

At the recent ISTE conference in Denver, Jeff Swanson and I were invited to attend a workgroup to assist the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) with the task of defining cloud computing and its potential impact on education. The detailed results will be published in a leading education periodical this Fall. To whet your appetite for the coming report, here are some enlightening excerpts quoted directly from the workgroup agenda. Note how frequently words like "redefine," "refocus," and "rethink" are used.

Cloud computing offers unparalleled opportunity for schooling organizations to rethink what should be insourced and what should be outsourced as it relates to instructional technology.

[Cloud computing] also offers a singular opportunity to move from the traditional and limiting model of only school-owned devices being used in classrooms to a more progressive model of including student-owned devices as well.

Cloud computing offers unique advantages to instruction such as true 24/7 access from any device anywhere.

[Cloud computing] presents an opportunity to redefine "one-to-one" from a dialog dominated by device options to a strategy around a ubiquitous personalized computing experience.

Perhaps most pivotally, cloud computing allows for a new level of teacher empowerment whereby educators can directly provision technology resources to students, breaking away from the current model of inserting technicians between a teacher’s prerogative to use a tool and facilitating student access to that tool.

Cloud computing, with its possible de-emphasis of buying, building and management of instructional technology hardware and software, can allow educators to refocus energy and resources on maximizing the learning value of instructional technology.

Cloud computing can empower teachers to select and directly provision instructional resources to students. Helping educators make better judgments and maximizing the value of instructional technology may involve new forms of value assessment and measurement.

Cloud computing offers the opportunity to consolidate and possibly outsource much of the infrastructure related to the delivery of instructional technology tools.

While much of the language surrounding cloud computing can often times sound subversive or revolutionary, one compelling opportunity resonated with all: cloud computing offers us all the chance to get education out of the business of compliance and back into the business of innovation, with the goal of greater learning for all.

Now that's the kind of subversion educators should welcome with open arms!

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