On cloud nine

Online cloud-based shopping malls for schools could help educators save time and money when it comes to purchasing digital content

According to the ITU World Telecommunications ICT Indicator database 2013, 77 out of every 100 people are connected to the internet. This high level of penetration combined with the tech-savvy lifestyle of this generation has driven many consumers to shop online.Moreover, with the 24/7 nature and quick accessibility of online shopping making it possible to compare products and services from around the world anytime, anywhere, it’s fair to assume that most people today have used the internet to shop online. Shopping in ‘the cloud’ however, may still be unchartered waters for some consumers and the same can be said for purchasing decision makers in education.

What are schools looking for when they purchase digital content?
Schools are continually on the look-out for digital content which is aligned to students’ learning outcomes and that can be used as an engaging teaching tool. There are several considerations they must make before they are able to loosen their purse strings though.

Cost effectiveness
Recent education budget cuts have resulted in more restrictive spending. Schools have to be careful to keep costs down whilst also keeping pace with changes in the education technology market in order to offer the most exciting resources to students.

Long shelf life
Schools need to be wary of investing in resources that can become out of date quickly as these can be very costly to replace.

Variation
Teaching styles and educational materials must be varied to keep students stimulated.

Home access
According to recent reports by the Department for Education (DfE), students who spend time on homework every night are far more likely to achieve better results. Today’s students are accustomed to taking in information in a digital format, so teachers may wish to take advantage of this by setting homework tasks which rely on the use of digital technologies.

The solution
Cloud computing is one of the most talked about solutions on the education scene. Put simply, cloud computing refers to applications and services offered over the internet. These services are offered from data centres across the world and are collectively referred to as the ‘cloud’. A cloud-based shopping mall for schools is a cost-saving, convenient and flexible solution when it comes to purchasing digital content.

When schools invest in traditional software packages, they are stuck with their purchasing decisions, even when the programme becomes outdated and obsolete or isn’t of real relevance. Conversely, cloud computing is future proofing for schools. It can be turned on and off, meaning schools can scale and flex services as they are needed and they don’t have to pay for resources they aren’t using. A cloud-based shopping mall for schools offers a wide variety of educational content all in one place. Schools can therefore rest assured that they’ll be able to purchase the best resources to suit their needs, whether they have a clear vision of what they’re looking for or would like a little inspiration.

In addition, learning outside the classroom walls can be easily facilitated with a cloud-based system. Software titles can be accessed from home, which means teachers can set extended creative projects that are inclusive of all students irrespective of ability.

With the numerous advantages offered to educators and learners using an online shopping mall to purchase digital content, it won’t be long before schools across the UK are all living on cloud nine.

Author Ian Skeels is the managing director of Point2School, a cloud-based content provider offering digital educational software and resources for rental by primary and secondary schools W: school.point2educate.com/