Amit Gupta, who is the co-founder and CEO of Rapyder Cloud Solutions, is a new-age technology specialist, who has rich experience in cloud technology, both in India and the US. He leads the team in driving Rapyder’s brand and value proposition and is responsible for the delivery strategy, operations and the organisation’s business growth too. Amit has the expertise and experience in architecting, strategising and executing cloud and digital transformation projects. He has worked in both leadership and technological roles in his previous tenure, besides has entrepreneurial experience as well.
COVID-19 outbreak resulted in the closure of all educational programs globally. Concerning the safety of children and educators, cloud adoption was the sole solution that could provide an immediate solution to stagnant education programs across the world. As a result, academic institutions, both private and government, accelerated cloud adoption efforts to support the demand for an online and hybrid learning environment.
According to Gartner, Inc. 2021 CIO Agenda: A Higher Education Perspective study, “73% of respondents in the higher education sector reported an increase in the ‘rate of new product/new service introduction’ as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The adoption provided several advantages but also presented numerous challenges.
Benefits of cloud computing for education & digital learning in universities
Easy accessibility, collaboration and community development in a safe environment is easy with a cloud-enabled educational model. Similarly, it is easy for educators to monitor coursework and access students’ progress without having to meet face-to-face.
Furthermore, it is easy to update courses online and manage students efficiently. Collaboration and productivity between departments without having to worry about server upkeep, data security, storage issues et al is also painless.
The most common benefits of cloud computing in the education sector includes —
- Improved collaboration and communication
- Easier access to resources
- Long-term cost savings
- Less operational and management toil
- Scalability and flexibility for students & instructor
- Enhanced productivity and efficient educational practices
- Backup of information
- Support in financial and HR management
- Fostering of university accreditation
Challenges faced by academic institutions in cloud computing adoption —
Despite several benefits, cloud adoption in the education sector presents its own set of challenges. The adoption rate and scalability are directly proportional to the challenges faced by academic institutions.
The most common issues faced by universities while adopting cloud computing includes —
- Data Security
Data security in the cloud is the primary concern for academic institutions. One of the main reasons for data security concerns is due to non-efficient encryption algorithms of cloud computing software or models. Another major concern is the leftover data footprint which remains insecure and hackable.
- Privacy Issues
Securing parents, students and staffs data is another concern faced by educational institutions. But a good cloud service provider ensures that privacy policies are stringent and data leak is not possible.
3. Internet Connection
Cloud is internet dependent and with inadequate internet bandwidth services can be disturbed. In places with network issues or speed issues, cloud may not function appropriately demanding a better bandwidth and speed to perform as expected.
Reliability is another issue for academic institutions using the cloud. In an event of service failure, data recovery becomes a major concern. But cloud providers usually offer disaster recovery plans so that in an event of service failure, backups can help run the business smoothly and efficiently.
- 5. Less Control
One of the major concerns for universities, colleges and schools is having less control over updates, training and other features. Since, the cloud infrastructure is controlled majorly by the cloud service provider and everything is hosted off-site, institutions have minimal control over infrastructure and system setup.
- Vendor commitment
Choosing the right vendor is critical for cloud adoption in the education sector. Having a vendor that understands the requirement, risks, workload and manages unforeseen issues is a must, as switching vendors midway is extremely difficult. While choosing a vendor, it is good to do a thorough analysis of the offerings so that the entire academic year can run its classes efficiently.
While cloud computing saves a lot of infrastructural costs for academic institutions, setting up the same has some up-front costs. Migration costs may be higher depending on the application, services and data. There is a training cost involved in setting up a new system. However, savings can be seen in the long-term reduction of operation IT and admin costs.
Cloud adoption challenges faced by educational institutions in developing countries
In developing countries one of the major restrictions is finance. Also, the technical implementation may take longer. Government regulations can also present some difficulties.
However, the post-COVID19 era has witnessed quicker implementation of cloud computing services in the education sector in developing countries as well.
Though connecting students in remote locations, internet accessibility, pricing, student to teacher ratio et al are a few other challenges that academic institutions in developing countries face presently, it is still the easiest way of overcoming geographical barriers and ensuring the students receive quality education.
Cloud computing adoption is at its peak in the education sector. However, it has a long road to cover starting from adequate training to educators and students. Additionally, hundreds of cloud infrastructures have emerged recently with a promise to manage and facilitate the best computing services.
However, universities need to consider cloud service providers with adequate experience, faster migration process, optimized cost and centralized cloud governance for smoother seamless experience.