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Cloud Computing and The Future Of Higher Education Post-Covid-19

by Dr. Sri Gaddam, CEO, ERPA Group


The coronavirus pandemic that is currently ravaging the world has drastically changed how things are done across different sectors of the economy. At present, the federal government, local governments, higher education and corporations are seeking alternatives to doing things while keeping faith alive that normalcy returns in the shortest time.

Education System Today (Information, Memorize, study, test & forget)

The present-day education system has not changed much from what was attainable 50 years ago. This is incredibly shocking, especially in a world where technology has impacted and fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives.

The classroom still adopts the methodologies of teaching and learning used in the industrial era. The teacher is the sole authority in the classroom who stands in front of the class and dishes out clusters of information in the form of facts and principles which require remediation and repetition through standardized tests. Only student’s who score above average are applauded and positively reinforced.

Another aspect of this outdated curriculum is the listening approach to learning. A typical feature of today's classroom, an environment where students just sit and listen. The major flaw of this method is this; studies have revealed that the majority of students only remember 20% of what they taught.

As a result, the singular use of this method without practice lessons is a good waste of time, because students forget 80% of what they learned. This obsolete system also places enormous pressure on the shoulders of students through standardized testing. Standardized tests serve as the sole scale on which the academic abilities of all students are judged. As a result, students invest all their energy in pursuit of high scores.


Gaps in the Current Education System

The contemporary system of education has several major loopholes embedded in its antique learning and teaching fashions. In today's classroom, there is no room for individualized learning, where students are taught and tested based on their capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and talents.

Instead, the school system supports strict adherence to arbitrary tasks and silos subjects, thereby creating a learning gap. No student is the same; above-average students can perform better at most subjects and tests than those below the line. Subjecting every student to the same learning techniques not only limits what they learn, but fosters negative learning experience and deadens students' confidence in their abilities. Holding every student to the same standard, especially through standardized tests, further widens the achievement and equity gap.

Additionally, the everyday classroom trivializes and restricts students' engagement or participation in the learning process. Today, the emphasis is on listening, reading, and answering questions, rather than innovative or out-of-the-box thinking. Children are not encouraged to share their varying ideas or embark on personal research projects. The result of this is reduced academic productivity and satisfaction.

The present education system places a primary focus on learning without practice or application—an outdated teaching method fostered by the core curriculum and heavy reliance on standardized testing.

In light of this, there is an urgent need for teachers to adopt innovative styles of teaching that will encourage the students to think for themselves and apply their skills to the real world, complex situations. This will reduce the current creativity deficiency in schools and build the required skills necessary to succeed in a growing freelance economy.


What Challenges Does Covid-19 Pose For Higher Education?

No doubt, the novel coronavirus pose some challenges for higher education, some of which includes:

  • Financial Challenges: Higher institutions are currently losing a lot of money due to the pandemic. Money that can be raised from parking fees, dining outlet sales, and other supplementary revenues can not be generated at the moment. In addition, some institutions are faced with refunding fees for sundry tuition. They also need to scale virtual engagement modalities to stay relevant. These rising costs have induced the restructuring of operations to suit industry demands.

  • Registration Crisis: Besides, student enrollment for the coming session has been gravely impacted by COVID-19. Already, there is a shift in financial priorities due to the impending recession. They are currently guidelines on student enrollment that have changed the process for the near future; all these changes are a result of the uncertainty that the future holds. There are hordes of questions that enrollment officials do not have answers to, and this can be discouraging to current students, local and international prospects. Convincingly answering these questions and arriving at practical solutions that work for everyone are uphill tasks that must be completed if the tertiary institutions are to remain solvent. These situations are compounded by increasing costs of tuition and a corresponding increase in student debt.


Is Cloud computing the answer?

Fortunately, there is hope. The situation can be salvaged by harnessing the numerous opportunities offered by modern technology. According to a report published on Green & Write, technology is both a tool and catalyst for change in educational processes.

Education System Today

The flipping classroom is a new concept that is gradually gaining momentum and for good reasons. This era presents new unplanned challenges that require a radical shift from traditional educational methods to technology-based systems.

Including technology as an integral part of the teaching and learning process offers several benefits and opportunities to students and teachers alike. The future of education will include self-paced and personalized learning by students, and technology can immensely propel this change through various innovations. If the analysts are right, by 2030, artificial intelligence, in collaboration with other technology, will create access to a wealth of data tailored to the needs, aspirations, and learning styles of each student. This will mean that every student can learn at their own time, pace, and preferred place.

New technology like chatbots and video learning has the potential of transforming the way talents absorb information. In addition to reducing the workload of students, these innovations significantly assist individual learning and increase children's satisfaction and achievement levels.

Regardless of the current disruption caused by the pandemic, students can still have excellent educational experiences, all thanks to cloud computing

How can cloud computing facilitate operations of universities?

  • Virtual Classrooms: Cloud technology allows instructors to have face-to-face interactions regardless of geographical location. Functional and well-optimized cloud technology will enable them to negotiate the issues of the enrollment crisis. In my experience, the best way to engage students in a virtual classroom setting is to create small break rooms (max eight students) with a facilitator. The facilitator lets the students provide their views on a given topic and ensure that every student gets an opportunity to participate and contribute.

  • Reduction of operation cost: With cloud computing, the costs of resources (ebooks and video materials) that are often expensive are eliminated. This will reduce the costs of education for all the parties involved and make it easier for the institutions to offer the students education. Besides reducing the expenses, the students will have access to the updated information in their fields of study.


  • Access To Cloud-based apps and Storage: The need to acquire personal storage devices or software is eliminated because students now have access to cloud-based apps that meet that need.

  • Having Virtual Labs: This is taking the virtual classroom further. With virtual labs, students can benefit from instructor-led sessions in online labs that are easily accessible anytime and on any device.

What does Cloud Computing Offer Higher Education in the Future?

Cloud computing has a lot to offer the higher education field in the nearest future. Its benefits are enormous, and they include:

  • The flexibility of Modes Of Instruction: Cloud computing will make it possible to merge both traditional and modern methods of learning and instruction. With well deployed cloud technology, conventional higher education will be blended with online classes. Before the pandemic, certain universities had online education platforms. In the future, more universities will further leverage their online education prospects. Cloud technology will increasingly play a more significant role in the way students in tertiary institutions are instructed and trained. Digital learning will be the trend, although the connection with physical campuses will remain. It might take a while for both methods to merge. With time, the merging of the traditional and modern means of instruction will offer tertiary education and flexibility that never existed before. Future learning models will incorporate the idea of community into the digital learning experience. There will be increased interaction by students across the world, allowing for a more global experience by all. What's more, online platforms will allow for the exchange of current and updated content.

  • Increased Accountability: The higher institutions will be more accountable to their students and graduates. The changes that cloud technology will generate will ensure that older modes of instruction will become obsolete. On the one hand, students will have access to cutting edge tools and technologies. On the other hand, the content that they will have access to will be current and better suited to the changing times. This is especially true with the changes that the pandemic has wrought on the status quo across businesses, industries, and economies. There will be changes in the demands of employers and the way things are done on the corporate and commercial landscapes. Higher institutions will be forced to anticipate these changes in the modes and methods of instruction that they provide to their students. Cloud technology will enable this change as it requires being attuned to current technologies and ways of doing things.



Takeaway

Higher education will never remain the same. Reduced costs operation cost, online-driven education, and changing modes of instruction to meet the changing times are just a few ways that cloud computing will impact higher education. These changes have already been occasioned by the current pandemic and are ongoing. However, more institutions of higher learning will be forced to leverage public clouds as multipliers that will facilitate their adoption of virtual models of instruction.

In this exponential age, government, schools, parents, and educators need to drastically change their educational approach. Public schools should be better funded to enabled enhanced learning and provide sufficient resources for academic success. Schools should adopt a new curriculum that teaches great communication and storytelling skills which drive and support innovations inspire children to learn and develops curiosity and experimentation for scientific and technological advancement. Among other things, the curriculum show integrates technological exposure and devices in educational processes.

About the author

Dr. Gaddam is an author, angel investor, and a seasoned entrepreneur who launched three successful technology companies in the last seventeen years. Dr. Gaddam' s greatest accomplishment lies in raising ERP Analysts, Inc. from a two-person organization to an eighty-five-million-dollar firm. ERP Analysts, Inc. has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies by Inc. 5000 for ten years, Deloitte Fast 500, & Business First Fast 50 for several years. ERP Analysts is recognized as a “Best Places to Work” in Ohio for several years (www.erpagroup.com). Dr. Gaddam graduated from the Doctor of Management (DM) from Case Western Reserve University, MBA from the Ohio State University, and the Owner President Management program (OPM 43) from Harvard Business School. He is the author of the book “Destination Success: Discovering the Entrepreneurial Journey”.

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