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K-12 IT Forecast: Clouds as Far as the Eye Can See

Digital cloudSchools are increasingly relying on cloud-based technologies to facilitate remote collaboration and reduce costs.

Currently, a remarkable 80 percent of school leaders report that their district is using some sort of cloud-based software. This figure is only going to climb in the years to come, as education-related cloud computing is set to grow more than 26 percent per year until 2021.

As of right now, productivity toolkits such as Google’s G Suite for Education and Microsoft Office 365 are the most popular manifestations of cloud technology in America’s K-12 schools. In fact, not only do 68 percent of educators already use G Suite for Education, but nearly 90 percent of school leaders have plans to increase their investment in the productivity-boosting platform.

It’s not hard to understand why cloud technology has become so popular in the education space. Not only does it allow seamless collaboration among teachers, between teachers and students, and between teachers and administrators, it’s incredibly cost-effective to boot, offering more storage space and lower upkeep costs than traditional onsite IT infrastructure. That said, cloud technology doesn’t come without its complexities, and districts aiming to increase their reliance on the cloud need to be prepared to tackle these challenges.

‘Ed in the Clouds

In addition to saving districts money, cloud-based tools also provide myriad benefits to students, teachers, administrators, and IT staff.

In the classroom, cloud systems help encourage student engagement by facilitating collaboration and real-time feedback from teachers. The latest version of Office 365 even offers a feature called Microsoft Teams, which functions as a “digital classroom hub.” Teachers can easily craft and distribute assignments within the Teams platform, and students can use it to conduct live discussions about their homework or the day’s lessons.

Teachers can also leverage the cloud to work with each other more efficiently, collaborating on tests, assignments, and lesson plans no matter where they are. And, since cloud-based productivity suites are highly customizable, teachers have the freedom to choose the applications and features that best fit their needs. This flexibility is a huge value-add for districts, especially those who want to empower every employee to work from wherever they feel most comfortable.

Finally, cloud-based programs designed to streamline device management allow IT administrators to easily enroll and manage devices on a district’s networks. This makes it simpler for districts to encourage safe internet practices among students and stop any potential network threats in their tracks.

Keeping the Cloud Connected

Of course, shifting to the cloud requires reliable, high-speed internet connectivity, something which, unfortunately, many schools still lack. While more schools than ever before have high-speed internet access, supporting an array of cloud-based systems housing educational applications, student databases, and device management tools is no small ask.

Fortunately, partnering with an educational networking expert like Epiphany Management Group can put any school district on track to achieve the level of consistent, high-speed connectivity it needs to realize the full potential of the cloud.

Stakeholders across the educational spectrum stand to benefit from the convenience of cloud-based tools, but a reliable and speedy internet connection is absolutely essential to making the most of these tools. Contact Epiphany today to learn how we can help your district prepare its networks for the demands — and rewards — of the cloud.