Lady Gaga can be found in the cloud. David Beckham is a regular, too. Viewers of The World Cup and the Superbowl stop by the cloud as well. Viewers of the big reality shows live in the cloud, too, whether or not they’ll admit to it. People from all walks of life, from all over the world, are hanging out in the cloud. And you probably are, too. Do you pop into Google’s cloud? The answer is yes if you use any of Google’s services, such as email and photo editing. You may use the iCloud or one by another name brand name. Your students, too, can be found in the cloud if they use Khan Academy’s online education service or communicate with each other using Snapchat, for example.
Nic and I are definitely in the cloud. Nic has set us up with a Wiggio account recently so we can organise our projects, images, and ideas and not have to sift through the dozens of email messages we send each other every week. She doesn’t know it yet, but I plan to furnish our cloud space with a big red couch. She’ll probably point out, in the nicest way, that that’s not how it works. Ah yes, but a person can dream. (Nic says: I am trying hard not to say head in the cloud here, Jules!)
We, yes you and I, and all our friends, colleagues, and distant cousins are living in what tech writer Quentin Hardy calls “The era of the cloud.” Hardy explains: “Technically, cloud computing refers to an efficient method of managing lots of computer servers, data storage, and networking.”
So far, pretty cool, right? Right. Except that almost everything I read about the cloud has to do with business. Yes, business at the forefront again. What about educators? Are we, for the thousandth time, going to end up being late to the tech party? (Nic is silently cheering at her laptop at this point - are you, reader?)
We’d better get on it. Tech writer Matt Britland believes the future of education is in the cloud. “Forget devices, the future of education technology is all about the cloud and anywhere access. In the future, teaching and learning is going to be social,” Britland announced in a recent article in The Guardian.
Devices come and go, Britland says, but the future is about access to information. With students all over the world connecting with each other to learn.
Aha! Just as with the MOOC (an edX course on leadership) Nicole and I are taking this summer, the role of the teacher will change. Our role as students will also change. We will watch video lectures by our professor our computers. We will learn to read, think, collaborate, and communicate via smart devices and social media, rather than sitting at desks in a brick-and-mortar classroom.
But where are we in today’s schools? Are school leaders ready to embrace the types of social learning that are made possible by the cloud? Or will we continue to cling to traditional ways?
Where do you think? Do you see the cloud as the future of education? Or do you think cloud-based learning is a long way off? Write to us and let us know! Meanwhile, I’ll off to pick out a couch. We want you to be comfy when you visit us there. And we may all be up here for a long time to come.
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