Migrating to cloud-based computing solutions really should be a no brainer for schools. If implemented properly it can result in significant savings, better classroom teaching experiences, and improved outcomes for pupils. Yet despite this many schools are still reluctant or unwilling to make the move. So what is stopping them?
Of course it is true that many schools are simply not in a position to move to the cloud, either because the necessary infrastructure is not in place or because they are not fully prepared to take a new ICT direction.
School budgets are also particularly tight at the moment and many headteachers are understandably wary about investing in new systems and processes.
But a survey into ICT use in schools by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) earlier this year revealed the main barrier preventing schools from moving to cloud-based solutions is actually concern around the security of data.
While understandable, it is a shame this is the case because there are plenty of useful guides for schools on data protection and security, including from the Information Commissioner’s Office, and plenty of edtech experts ready to support and guide schools on their journey.
In my experience this misplaced fear has often been instilled by local authority chief information officers, who tell schools they may be compromising themselves because the cloud is not secure.
The fact is, as long as only the right people have access to the data and the system is kept regularly updated the cloud is as secure a data storage platform as an internal server.
As far as I am concerned, the benefits of moving to a cloud-based learning platform far outweigh any perceived negatives, whether they are infrastructure, budget or security related.
Adopting cloud-based learning platforms allows schools to provide high quality ICT services to learners at any time and, crucially, on any device. They free up teaching time and open up more opportunities for classroom collaboration and innovation.
Platforms like Microsoft in Education and G Suite (formerly Google for Education) can take learning to the next level, replacing out-dated textbooks and other obsolete learning resources. Their flexibility makes them attractive to learners, particularly older pupils studying for GCSEs and those who struggle with traditional approaches to teaching and learning.
Critically they also help prepare learners for their future lives by giving them experience of the systems and processes used in the modern world of work.
The cost of investing in such systems will always be a factor in a school’s decision, but the financial savings and efficiencies of moving to the cloud can be substantial.
Because cloud services are so popular and seen as the way forward, they are increasingly becoming more affordable. Schools will find they can take advantage of some incredible offers and discounts from technology providers who are slowly phasing out other options in favour of cloud solutions.
Once the system is in place schools will find themselves saving money in a number of different ways, from not having to invest in servers, printers, photocopiers and their associated accessories to a reduction in internal ICT support costs.
When you stop to think about it, for one system to offer solutions to so many of a school’s needs is incredible, too good to be true almost. That’s why I strongly believe more schools should consider moving to the cloud.