From Internet based schools to Internet assisted homework, the new age of digitally assisted learning is on the cloud. The Internet Cloud is an approach to networked computing in which data is stored on external servers hosted on the Internet, and students, parents, teachers and topical specialists all converse over social media networks via text chat or video conference. These new cloud technologies are very different from old forms of technology communication and learning such as email and static message boards.
New cloud enabled services focus on the storage and delivery of data between multiple computers or within a social network. Popular sites like Flickr, Facebook, Youtube and Google Plus all rely heavily on cloud technologies to provide valuable services to their user communities. These technologies are changing the way educators prepare lesson plans, students do their homework and collaborate with peers, and the way parents help their children with homework.
One of the first ways cloud computing makes class assignments and homework easier to manage is through cloud storage. Cloud storage is the ability to save documents directly on a remote server that can be accessed later by you on another computer, by a parent or peer, or distributed to an entire classroom of students by the teacher. When students are completing a book report for instance, they no longer have to carry around a floppy disk or USB storage device, and they certainly do not need to print it at home first before turning it in. Using a site such as Google Docs, they can perform their homework directly online on an Internet based document. Parents who are wanting to help their kids, but are perhaps on a business trip, can log in at the same time and help the student complete their assignment or oversee their work in real time by logging in and viewing the updates to the document in real time. If the homework is completed locally on a file directly on the student’s home computer, a site like DropBox will allow the student to load up their book report or history presentation directly onto the remote server and then log in at the computer lab at school to access it without the need to carry around a storage device. This is a great option for students who sometimes have the tendency to lose their homework or forget it at home for the dog to eat.
For teachers, cloud storage is a great option for sharing classroom materials such as a class syllabus or daily classroom handouts. This not only saves on paper, but makes sure that students always have access to current and past homework assignments and handouts. Students who may have missed the class on a certain day, or students who may claim to have lost the paper handouts, can find the information at any time on the web.
Social Groups in the Cloud
Many classrooms are now based primarily on the web through social networking sites. Live chat allows teachers to hold class discussions via real time chat conferencing. Students can be assigned a certain hour of the day when they are supposed to meet up online to participate in a classroom discussion. Text based chat such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook or even a school’s proprietary system can be used easily to facilitate topical discussions among many students. With new video conferencing technology, teachers can actually give virtual lectures online while students watch in real time. Social video conferencing sites like ooVoo allow over ten users at a time to join a single video chat session. Other video conferencing software such as Skype and Google Plus also allow teachers to do screen sharing during these sessions to do walkthroughs of homework assignments or help other students with their homework live through remoting into the students computer.
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