Enable the future of blended learning with the cloud


    According to IDC, education is one of the sectors that will feel a lasting impact from COVID-19 on cloud enterprise infrastructure. The shift to remote learning during this time has proven to schools just how essential accessibility, connectivity, data privacy and wise technology spending are to create successful online learning environment.

    While schools have been using the cloud even in pre-coronavirus times – a study shows that 82% of education institutions host their email or productivity systems in the cloud, while 52% leverage cloud-based learning management systems – many more could afford to rely more on agile, cost-efficient and cloud-delivered technology services.

    Even as we shift studies back to the physical classroom, remote learning will not vanish. Now is the time for schools to invest in a robust cloud-computing infrastructure to enhance students’ education in the physical and digital spheres, while empowering educators, schools and education IT to do more.

    Key benefits of the cloud

    One of the major concerns with remote learning is that students lose out on the richness of physical interaction. But remote learning can be just as vibrant with the help of cloud-based applications. This enables students to access slides, video, web content and interactive classes centrally hosted via the cloud, making knowledge sharing just as enriching, empowering and even more simplified.

    According to reports, cloud computing in education is estimated to grow from USD $8.13 billion in 2016 to USD $25.36 billion by 2021, at an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25.6%. This adds a layer of reassurance to the faith placed in the technology from those in the education sector, across the globe.

    In this new age of hybrid learning, students and teachers should also have the means to work anytime, anywhere. And in the event of another forced closure of schools, educational institutions must be able to switch rapidly back to remote learning – while minimising the impact on students’ studies. This continuity is made possible with a secure, cloud-ready digital environment.

    Last year, across USA, Europe and Asia, cyberattacks have been following an increasing trend as hackers continue to target academic and research institutions. With remote learning set to stay, and in ensuring continuity, safety must be a top concern when talking about cloud computing. It is therefore critical that schools, and their IT departments, ensure robust digital solutions are adopted.

    The beauty of cloud-based data centers is that they are designed to uphold the highest level of security for organisations of all types. Working in the cloud can help schools to keep up with global and regional data regulations effortlessly, while benefiting from premium security and efficiency at a lower cost compared with traditional options.

    Visualising a cloud-connected future of education

    Mobile and empowered students
    In a cloud-first learning environment, education is no longer confined to the classroom. Instead, students will have on-demand access to lectures, notes and real-time collaboration platforms via the cloud.

    The idea of having cloud-based devices that can be accessible anytime and anywhere is no longer a nice-to-have. Rather, it will likely become a necessity for schools to adopt a more versatile way of data access. Education authorities have experienced this new reality, and the agility around location that has come with it is likely to persist long term. Schools across the world have deployed, and continue to deploy, mobile learning initiatives.

    There are cloud-first computing devices such as laptops and tablets on the market that support the new world of blended learning. One device category that is frequently mentioned for one-to-one programs or use in the classroom is Chromebook. These powerful devices come with built-in security features and have different forms and styles to suit diverse study needs – whether to type notes, create drawings, deliver presentations or carry when out and about.

    In China, cloud computing has been leveraged as a tool for modernizing education that has promoted benefits such as cost savings for the local government. Globally, apps like Coggle have also been used to work with classmates from home as remote learning continues to be the norm. A plethora of other applications for notetaking, interactive lessons, real-time group work also add colour to the experience, giving students the opportunity to personalise their learning styles.

    Enhanced flexibility for teachers

    Educators can also benefit from cloud-based software. Instead of handling reams of paper assignments, teachers can access student assignments online to check on progress and provide feedback. Lectures and tutorials can be recorded beforehand, and made available on-demand through these platforms, giving teachers the flexibility to manage their time in the way that best suits their needs.

    Cloud computing also helps teachers to be better at their jobs. Some cloud-based software has built-in data analytics and machine-learning capabilities. These can monitor students’ results over time to produce personalised reports and insights to help teachers design more tailored and effective lessons. These capabilities align with the growing awareness that education cannot be one-size-fits-all.

    Pre-COVID, a study conducted had findings to suggest that 94% of education institutions were hosting at least one solution in the cloud, this paves the way for easier integration into subscription models – including software, platforms and infrastructure as a service, or SaaS, PaaS and IaaS – that act as a catalyst in enhanced flexibility, allowing schools to pick the right solutions for their students.

    A cost-efficient and connected campus

    Cost-savings are a major benefit of cloud computing. A flexible pay-as-you-go model means that schools only pay as much as they use. The inherent scalability of the cloud also means that with just a few clicks, IT administrators can add or remove cloud-based systems and tools without being tied down by physical hardware. At the University of Notre Dame, some 40% was saved on annual IT operations after moving to the public cloud.

    The cloud also eliminates the geographic boundaries. Schools with campuses spread out over a large area may traditionally require many IT administrators to handle tasks. With the cloud, resources are more easily shared among connected campuses – easing IT administration and enhancing cohesiveness among geographically-distances schools.

    Support for the new IT environment

    In the new IT environment, admin staff should also have the time and freedom to focus on more urgent tasks. Lighten the burden on IT management with zero-enrolment cloud devices – these automatically enrol into the school domain when a student or teacher connects to the internet. Automatic updates save on the time and labour to update software across all of a district’s schools systems, and sophisticated cloud-based management tools are also available to help schools monitor clouds and servers, ensure security and data privacy, and control overall cloud costs.

    Touched on previously, cloud-service models, such as SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, have proven to provide a tailored approach in hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud strategies, delivering more value-driven services to students and teachers. An added incentive in this new arrangement could also be that there are no maintenance or upgrades to worry about as it is handled by the cloud provider of choice.

    Readying for cloud adoption

    The road to cloud adoption is not always easy, but the benefits outweigh the inconveniences of doing so. Educational institutions should look for a trusted cloud partner to assess the organisation’s cloud readiness and map out a safe and low-risk cloud migration effort. Robust policies to govern cloud use, as well as proper training for students and educators will also be required to ensure that cloud adoption goes smoothly. With the basics in place, schools will be well-positioned for a future of remote and blended learning.

    Recommended products for hybrid learning

    • ASUS CR1100 Chromebook Education-series laptops are available in 11.6-inch clamshell form (CR1100C) for a traditional experience and a convertible design that flips to become an 11.6-inch multi-touch tablet (CR1100F). They are tough and compact, so they’re school-ready for K-12 students. The modular design is easy for IT administrators to quickly service with captive screws to improve servicing efficiency for minimal downtime. Parents and teachers can have peace of mind with military-grade durability that’s able to handle the daily bumps, knocks and drops that occur in class.
    • ASUS Chromebook Detachable CZ1 Education laptop packed with protective features, including a wrap-around rubber trim, shockproof cover and durable 3D-textured finish. It features a free-angle adjustable stand cover and full-size keyboard with 1.5 mm key travel, plus an ErgoLift design — all to facilitate productivity, flexibility and comfort. A garaged stylus and world-facing camera enable creativity, while the eye-friendly TÜV Rheinland-certified display and all-day battery provide comfort and stamina for extended learning sessions.
    • ASUS-ready nodes for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI ASUS and Microsoft have teamed their expertise to create validated Azure Stack HCI solutions on ASUS severs, ready to deliver unprecedented performance, high availability and rapid scalability. These solutions will empower your organization to take full advantage of hybrid cloud capabilities through a hyper-converged infrastructure platform that consolidates software-defined compute, storage and networking. With simple, centralized management through the built-in Windows Admin Center, it’s easy to integrate and control any HCI deployment.
    • ASUS IoT is a sub-brand of ASUS dedicated to the creation of incredible solutions in the fields of AI and IoT, many of which represent innovative ways to empower both schools and students embrace the new connected, collaborative future of education. From the endless learning potential unleashed by ASUS Tinker Board, our mini but mighty single-board computer, to the analytic power enabled by ASUS IoT Cloud Console, ASUS IoT products and services are ready to accelerate the next-generation of education – in the classroom, at home and beyond.