The Cloud and Education: Moving your School to the Cloud in 2024

The Cloud and Education: Moving your School to the Cloud in 2024

The cloud and education are becoming increasingly intertwined. For years, educational groups have relied on technology to empower faculty, enhance productivity, and deliver exceptional experiences to students. However, now that the demand for flexible and scalable education services is increasing, more schools are transitioning to the cloud than ever before.

The market for cloud computing in the education sector is now growing at a rate of 24.70% CAGR, expected to reach a value of $173.62 billion by 2030. Even the UK government has begun publishing guides and resources designed to help schools transition into the cloud landscape.

But why should you be considering a greater investment in cloud technology right now? What are the benefits to your school, faculty, and students, and what are the challenges you’ll need to overcome? Based on our work helping countless educational groups embrace cloud technology in recent years, we created this guide on moving your school to the cloud in 2024.

Cloud and Education: The Benefits of Cloud Tech for Schools

Approximately 64% of UK schools are already embracing at least some cloud technology in their ICT infrastructure. Rapidly increasing adoption of cloud-based email, conferencing, curriculum software, and document storage systems suggests demand for cloud tech will only continue to grow.

At its core, cloud technology in its various forms can help improve the operation and management of schools, and enhance learning outcomes, by providing institutions with an infinitely scalable environment for digital transformation. The right cloud tools can help make educational services more accessible, useful, and engaging, empower teams to work more effectively, and even reduce costs.

According to both the UK government, and our own case studies with educational leaders, the biggest benefits of combining the cloud and education in 2024 include:

Cost Savings and Budget Management

Government cuts to schooling, combined with significant economic issues in the UK are pushing educational leaders to explore ways of accomplishing more with less. Moving to the cloud can significantly reduce a range of operational expenses in the school landscape.

With the cloud, schools don’t have to invest as much into expensive servers, in-house IT maintenance, and new technology. Cloud vendors offer pay-as-you-go pricing models for a range of resources, from unified communication tools to learning management systems.

This ensures schools can optimise their budgets, paying only for the resources they use. Cloud-based services can even help schools with financial planning, moving them to a predictable subscription-based pricing model. What’s more, it can help both cut energy costs, and improve school sustainability, by reducing the amount of hardware actually required on-site.

Improving Efficiency, Productivity, and Collaboration

Combining the cloud and education resources gives schools an opportunity to transform productivity and efficiency. Cloud platforms give staff the flexibility to access critical services wherever they are, from the devices most convenient for them. It can allow professionals to take data and applications anywhere, ensuring they can offer a consistent experience to students, and connect with subject-matter experts, regardless of their location.

UCaaS platforms and collaboration tools even help to bridge the gaps between faculty members, administrators, students, and other contacts, ensuring the effective sharing of knowledge, documents, lesson plans, and more. Wherever team members have an internet connection, they’ll be able to engage in immersive conversations with contacts, examine data, and even co-author or collaborate on projects with their team members.

Cloud-based platforms even ensure students who previously wouldn’t have had access to learning resources can continue to access education wherever they are. The cloud has paved the way for a new era of remote learning solutions, increasing equality between students across the nation.

Resilience, Data Security, and Disaster Recovery

Many schools and educational institutions already rely heavily on IT resources to share data and deliver engaging learning experiences to students. Unfortunately, traditional technology, like portable hard-drives, memory sticks, and physical media are subject to a number of security risks. While cloud based systems aren’t immune to data loss and security issues, they can be enhanced with a variety of security services, designed to protect schools and their students.

Cloud service providers can offer access to disaster recovery and business continuity tools, that ensure data can be retrieved even in the event of an attack or outage. Schools can take advantage of secure cloud-based vaults, offering enterprise-level encryption, access control, firewalls, and protection algorithms, that protect them from a rising number of threats.

This is becoming increasingly crucial in today’s educational landscape, as a study by the government revealed educational institutions were more likely to face a breach in 2023 than any other type of UK-based business. Working with innovative cloud vendors can even offer schools the opportunity to leverage AI-powered monitoring tools for real-time threat detection and mitigation.

Scalability, Flexibility, and Innovation

Demand for innovation is increasing in the cloud and education sector, particularly as new generations enter the academic landscape. Increasingly, students are demanding more advanced learning experiences, which include access to artificial intelligence, and even extended reality solutions.

One of the most compelling reasons to consider moving your school to the cloud in 2024, is that the scalable cloud landscape makes it easy to evolve and differentiate your offering. With a cloud environment, you can overcome the rigidity of traditional legacy infrastructure, rapidly accommodating new trends in student enrolment, adding new services to your solution, or upgrading your computing power without costly hardware investments.

Cloud technologies give educational institutions the opportunity to remain agile in an environment where learning initiatives are always evolving. They can empower you to implement everything from new “metaverse experiences” into your remote learning strategy, to new entirely remote courses for distance learners and students.

What to Consider When Moving Your School to the Cloud

The benefits of combining the cloud and education technologies are significant, but schools do have significant challenges to overcome on their path to migration. If you’re thinking of transitioning to the cloud in today’s world, you need to be prepared. Here are the major challenges we’ve helped some educational providers overcome during their cloud migrations.

1.      Auditing the Current Cloud Landscape

The first step in combining the cloud and education, is understanding how you’re already using cloud technologies in your institution. Many schools will already be using cloud-based services, such as:

  • Core office applications: Cloud-based versions of word processors, presentation software, spreadsheet software, and learning management resources.
  • Specialist applications: Such as HR and finance systems, management information systems, and tooms for managing curriculum software and content.
  • Communication tools: Cloud-based technologies for communication, such as email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and telephony.
  • Back office systems: Such as document storage solutions, backup and disaster recovery tools, and device management software.
  • Online servers: School servers hosted in the cloud for the delivery and management of facility-wide content.

Based on the cloud-based services you’re already using; you’ll need to think about which solutions you’ll need to integrate and consolidate as you move further into a cloud environment. You may also need to think carefully about the type of cloud solution that works for you, such as a hybrid, private, or public cloud environment.

2.      Assessing Cloud and Education Opportunities

After examining your existing cloud resources, it’s time to think about the goals of your educational institution, and what you need to leverage to improve operations, student experience, and employee performance. For instance, implementing AI-driven cloud solutions could give you an opportunity to streamline certain tasks, like managing enrolment.

Examine the potential benefits of each cloud-based transformation for your students, teachers, and other team members, to ensure you’re implementing tools that have a direct impact on your school’s success. At the same time, think about the potential challenges you might need to overcome with things like sourcing cloud experts, or implementation professionals.

You’ll also need to consider whether you have the right infrastructure already in place for a cloud upgrade (such as a strong enough internet connection and network). If not, you may need to re-assess your connectivity options before implementing new cloud resources.

3.      Security, Privacy, and Compliance Requirements

Schools and educational institutions are responsible for safeguarding significant amounts of personal data, subject to various data protection rules and regulatory requirements. Most cloud providers will have guardrails in place within their systems that assist schools in adhering to things like “GDPR”, and general data protection rules.

However, depending on the nature of your cloud deployments, you may need to think about other security, and privacy standards. For instance, if you’re deploying a cloud contact centre system to allow you to take payments for private tuition or courses, how will you ensure that financial data is protected from potential breaches?

The Government’s National Cyber Security Centre’s guide to understanding cloud security can provide some more useful insights into the specific threats schools need to consider. You can also look at working with a specialist in cloud security to develop a complete strategy.

4.      Vendor Requirements

Once you’ve considered your cloud opportunities, existing environment, and your security requirements, you can begin sorting through vendors. We recommend searching for vendors in the cloud landscape that already have experience working with educational institutions.

These companies will know how to navigate some of the most significant challenges schools face when preserving data integrity in the cloud, and improving employee productivity. Assess your vendors based on various factors, including their:

  • Commitment to delivering customer support, training, guidance, and configuration assistance relevant to your school’s needs.
  • Ability to offer a flexible environment that unifies or integrates multiple tools used within your ICT system for school management.
  • Focus on innovation, and commitment to developing new solutions, such as AI-powered and automated tools for school facilities.

5.      Funding Options

Finally, you’ll need to ensure you can access the financial resources you need to implement the ideal cloud and education solution. This can be complex in today’s world, where educational budgets are consistently dropping. The government offers some solutions, such as the “Deals for Schools” page, which can help institutions get better deals on certain systems.

However, some forms of financial support and funding may not be available to every school or educational facility. That’s why it’s important to look for other alternative forms of support. Here at UC Advisor, we’ve already delivered our transformation fund to a range of education groups across the UK, helping them to implement new technology with no upfront costs.

You can contact our team to learn more about how the fund works, or use our calculator to determine how much funding you may be eligible to receive.

Moving Your School to the Cloud in 2024

The link between the cloud and education is greater than ever in 2024, as more educational institutions look for ways to remain agile and adaptable in a complex landscape. The scalability, flexibility, and cost-savings offered by the cloud can deliver incredible benefits to schools of all sizes, but it’s important to ensure you have the right plan in place for an effective migration.

Contact UC Advisor to find out how we can help you make the transition to the cloud more affordable, and increase the ROI of your digital transformation efforts. Or check out our case studies for insights into how we’ve already helped countless schools across the UK.

 



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