Guest Post: 5 Popular Cloud Applications Used in Schools

Guest Post by: Lim Chuwei

The widespread use of cloud applications is not limited to some business enterprises. But, cloud applications are adding an element of surprise for schools looking out to enhance quality in academics. Cloud applications provide a good synergy between classroom teachers and students.

These apps help to extend boundaries of education outside school to home and playground.  Many schools already boast of cloud enabled classrooms and students equipped with gadgets such as laptops, iPads, Smartphones etc.

Installing cloud infrastructure without choosing the right set of cloud tools doesn’t provide full benefits of cloud in education. With right applications on board, compatible to school’s storage infrastructure, teachers and students can effectively utilize all available resources.

Benefits of Cloud Applications Used In School

Cloud Applications allow content sharing, ubiquitous access, extend storage space to replace text books and large maps, content security, personal check in the performance of students and to encourage participation by considering individual viewpoints. Wide variety of already available tools compatible with multiple devices makes it easy to add cloud applications in schools. Centralized storage of data provide more security and anywhere access to users.

Following are the top 5 cloud applications used in schools worldwide that fulfill demands from every student:

1. Google Apps for Education

Google’s Cloud apps offer email, calendar, on-web storage and communications services to teachers as well as students via Gmail, Google Drive (in past Google docs), and Google groups. Its popularity can be measured from the fact that more than 10 million students use Google apps in their classrooms. The app is freely available without any hidden cost. Google apps are specifically designed for k-12 schools preparing them for 21st

2. Dropbox

Dropbox enables users to access data from anywhere. This is a web-based file synching app offering free 2 GB of file storage service for new users. The app automatically adds updated content in other personal devices having installed Dropbox in them. It also provides online access to data on the web storage at reasonable rates. Dropbox provides security to content by making it private and lets you share information with listed students or faculty members.


3. Edmodo

Edmodo app is considered as the future of virtual learning environments in schools. It has a network of over 31 million teachers and students connected in online classrooms. The app helps to discover new resources and collaborate on assignments. Edmodo provides separate passwords for different courses to an individual. Similar to Facebook, it includes a profile picture and a stream of updates in the user account.

4. Moodle

Moodle has a repository containing different types of quizzes, web links and glossaries for helping teachers as well as students. Its GUI lacks in interactive features as compared to Edmodo. But, Moodle contains RSS feeds, good tools to check grades and different forums to discuss a topic of interest. Moodle provides a facility to place every important document in a single file. Privacy is pretty secure under this open-source web application on the Internet.

5. Evernote

Evernote app enables students to take digital notes quickly using any computing device. One doesn’t need a slip of paper to note down something important using a pen. This is the best app designed for archiving purposes in cloud. Every note can be attached with pictures, tags and voice memos for later search. Evernote’s ability to scan text within images distinguishes the app from others available in cloud. Evernote also offers cloud storage facility to its users.

 

Author Bio

Lim Chuwei is a Teacher in Singapore at ChampionTutor and highly advocates the use of cloud based application for teaching and learning.

Guest Post: The Impact of Cloud Computing on Education

Guest Post by: Ng Wei Khang

Used only in giant business corporations and projects up till now, the cloud is still a tenuous technology for the education sector. All of us including veteran educationalists, teachers and students, however, have somewhat a vague idea about the ability of cloud computing to radically achieve and transcend the goals set by the education system. And that we will be able to capitalize on this amazing technology to empower our students to do well and excel, once we learn to expand its accessibility and cut costs at the same time!

Here’s how the cloud can be used as a priceless tool to boost the quality of education and help students achieve more:


Cloud computing as a Low-cost Technology in Education
Students are by now well aware of most technologies that were unavailable or costly in earlier times. In addition to their knowledge about blogs, websites, music and video sharing, presentation and publishing and collaboration software, they know a great deal about diverse computing platforms on the cloud!

So, this is the right time for our education system to take advantage of the situation. This will not only be a revolutionary step towards encouraging technology-enabled education, but also help lessen our budget impact.

The Cloud and Content Growth
Previously, content came from limited channels including textbooks, newspapers, encyclopedias and television. Opposite to that, most content today is coming from the web, undoubtedly the biggest source. While there may be chances for a certain fraction of content obtained from the web to be partially true or, in some cases, even fake, maximum of it is true and authentic.

Today, content on the web, especially related to education and the teaching and learning process, is frequently changed and modified. Here, all we need to do is encourage our students to engage in utilizing the right information and contributing both individually and collaboratively to influence wide-reaching opinions out there.

Durability of Information
The cloud is probably the best platform for information durability, allowing one to store information for as long as required and access and use whenever needed. On their way to making the most of the technology, numerous schools worldwide have already created their libraries online. This has made it possible for students to access useful books from anywhere, at any point of time. They always have another chance to go through the cloud learning system in case a student is not able to finish a course at first attempt.

Better Learning Environment
Students now find it easier and more interesting to learn outside the traditional classroom setting. They can actually visit a space online in order to attend classes or get any needed information using the cloud. This is time for a change wherein we need to create content and syllabi that can be placed on the cloud and easily understood and utilized by our students to sharpen their skills in a natural way!

Author Bio An IT Executive works at ApixelITSupport, the author advocates extensive use of technology to benefit his customers.
You can also meet me at Google+

Guest Post: Education in the Cloud: Benefits and Future Trends

To most tech enthusiasts, cloud computing technology is known for the benefits it can bring to different professional surroundings. The buzz surrounding this tech trend has been associated with education, as well, and there have been plenty of studies revealing its positive impact in this field. As the cloud matures, it expands its influence over individuals and organizations, enabling them to manage digital documents more easily and communicate with physically distant partners or collaborators. Therefore, it’s no wonder that the potential of using cloud services is still being explored in different professional fields, education being one of them.

In the 21th century, many educators recognized advantages of using technology both in class and for professional advancement. The number of teachers using iPads or collaborative web services in classroom is rapidly growing and most of them report increased class efficiency and better students’ participation. Institutions implement cloud solutions because they are cost-effective and allow more work to be done in less time, which is why the cloud seems to have a bright future in this area.

Cloud in Colleges

One of the major drivers to cloud adoption is definitively its cost-efficiency. Large organizations that need advanced software programs to process digital databases can easily implement a suitable set of cloud services at a reasonable price and this is why even the conservatives often opt for cloud software. Transferring parts of IT responsibilities to external teams enables staff to focus on other projects, which makes the cloud an excellent tool in organizations where IT is not the primary focus. In colleges, for example, cloud can largely simplify processes related to enrollment and admission and enable fast data processing.image

Additionally, as cloud represents an excellent collaboration platform, it can contribute to better communication among students and educators. Also, collaborative cloud services enable research projects to be delivered in less time, as students can easily communicate and manage documents with their classmates.

Secondary Education

Although secondary education significantly lags behind colleges in terms of cloud adoption, there are reasons to expect this trend to change. As Google and Microsoft develop their apps for education, more and more schools get attracted to their potential. The top two reasons for schools to implement cloud solutions are cost efficiency and reduced staff labor hours, but there are other possibilities, as well.

One of the important projects related to introducing cloud in education is the foundation of a virtual school, Minnesota’s “Online High School” (MNOHS), which is a virtual space opened for all the Minnesota residents age 20 or younger. MNOHS is a state-funded project that aims to attract a larger number of students into virtual classrooms and is one of the best illustrations of the way in which the cloud can enhance educational opportunities.

Cloud has changed the way we approach online information and the way we learn. In the globally connected world, technology should serve as a means of professional improvement, which is best achieved through using it in education. Therefore, by improving efficiency of educational institutions, cloud directly contributes to creating better opportunities for students all over the world to study, research and develop.

Leana
Leana Thorne is a blogger, marketing consultant and cloud computing enthusiast.  She enjoys writing, reading and sharing content – information is power. Currently closely collaborating with Crucial Cloud Hosting Australia.

Wordle

Wordle: Teaching and Technology

Wordles are great for introducing new units, new vocabulary (or the word bank on a quiz), or as a poster in your classroom with words describing your subject.

Essentially, Wordles are composite images that display key terms or words to describe something.  You’ve probably seen them around – on websites or printed graphics.  They look professional and look like you invested some time in making them.  However, they only take seconds to create online because Wordle is a web 2.0 tool.

There are numerous Wordles already made that you can use in the classroom as well.  To check them out, look at the gallery.  To create your own, simply go to Wordle.net and click “create“.  There are two options: paste in a bunch of a text or paste a URL of a blog/website that has an Atom or RSS feed and it will pull words for you.  In seconds it will create a “word cloud” for you.

You can then easily adjust the color scheme, the font, and the direction of the words with just the click of a button.  If you’re not sure what you want, don’t worry, there’s a “randomize” button that will help.  Once you’re finished, you can just print the Wordle or you can save it to the public domain as well.

Feel free to read the Terms of Service, but the essential copyright terms are this: it’s yours.  You own the copyright (unless you save it into the public domain).  You can put it on whatever you want.  You can profit off of it.  And there is no need to credit Wordle.net if you don’t want to.  Of course, the applet that creates the Wordle is copyrighted, so if you’re interested in the those terms, you’ll have to read the Terms of Service.

Prezi: The New PowerPoint?

stick figure high-fiveSome people can make some visually striking Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.  Others….cannot.  PowerPoint has an abundance of bells and whistles to liven up presentations and while each edition makes attractive presentations more and more “idiot-proof”, there are still people who put white text on a blue background with the most ridiculous clip art and Comic Sans or Courier New typeface.  Perhaps in 1995 those presentations looked professional, but not now.

But one of the biggest shortcomings of PowerPoint is compatibility.  If the computer you use to create the presentation will not be the computer you use to present, there is a good chance something won’t work correctly.  You’d have to double check versions,  operating systems, links to media files, etc.  It’s a headache.

Prezi is completely cloud-based.  This allows a user to create and edit a presentation from any computer without needing to install software.  It works perfect for collaboration (“group projects”) – the creator of the Prezi can grant certain users access to edit a Prezi.  Several users could be editing the presentation together as if you were all meeting in the same room, but you could be across the world!

Prezis are iPad friendly.  You can download the Prezi Viewer for iPad (it’s free!) and since Prezi is cloud-based, your Prezis will automatically sync to your iPad.  The viewer also lets you download them so you have access to them when you don’t have internet.  And it’s not just a viewer…you can edit it to fix those typos.  On top of that, if you have an iPad 2 (or 3), you can connect it into a projector.

In the site’s own words, “Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software that opens up a new world between whiteboards and slides. The zoomable canvas makes it fun to explore ideas and the connections between them. The result: visually captivating presentations that lead your audience down a path of discovery.”

Zooming is Prezis claim to fame.  Prezis aren’t made up of numerous slides like PowerPoint, instead, Prezi has an infinite-sized canvas in which you can zoom in or out.  You can even spin upside down.  But be careful – you’ll make your audience dizzy if you overuse effects.  Equate it to how much you enjoy the one-letter-at-a-time effect in PowerPoint…for large amounts of text…every slide.

So the question is…is Prezi better than PowerPoint?  My answer is: it depends on what you define as better.  There still is a learning curve.  It isn’t plug-and-play; however, it is relatively simple, especially with an abundance of how-to videos.  PowerPoint…is familiar.  I can make a great looking PowerPoint in a third of the time it takes me to make a Prezi.  But I’ve made hundreds of PowerPoint presentations since 1995-ish.  I’ve successfully made 1 Prezi, collaborated on 2, and abandoned a few.  Both PowerPoint and Prezi allow for crappy and insanely good presentations.  Prezis advantages of having a zooming canvas and being completely cloud-based aren’t enough to jeopardize PowerPoint’s life.

Let me put it this way: Prezi is the young, hot, new “it” person that everybody wants to date.  PowerPoint is the reliable best friend that you can always count on and has been there for you for the last dozen or so years.  My advice is to take Prezi out…go out on a few dates.  Perhaps you might find you’d rather just stick with your best bud, PowerPoint.  You may also find Prezi to be your soulmate.  But don’t worry if you’d rather stay just friends.  There’s room in your life for both PowerPoint and Prezi.

Here’s my one successful Prezi.  My license is for educational use only – thus, it is embedded here for you to see an example.  Explore user created Prezis on Prezi.com.