Christopher Dawson, who blogs about technology and education for ZDNet decided
that it was time to determine whether the services the cloud offers make it
suitable for education. So this month he asked the rather
short-term question: Can I
live in the Cloud for a Week?, and then actually ran the experiment, reporting
on his experience a week later in Living
in the cloud ... How did it go?
Before his adventure Dawson pointed out some of the drawbacks of our traditional, non-clouded, digitality:
It also doesn’t promote longevity of the things we produce. Hard drives die, files get lost, thumb drives get run through the washing machine (my wife really hates it when I leave them in my pockets). We switch jobs, get hit by buses, or otherwise move on. Documents that live somewhere in the ether, though, can live on.More importantly, he questioned whether keeping our information to ourselves was conducive toward learning:
the Word-document-on-a-hard-drive model doesn’t promote the sort of openness and transparency appropriate for educators.He noted a number of drawbacks, but on the whole his conclusion was quite positive:
It was very clear from my week avoiding client software (productivity suites, mail clients, media players, etc.) wherever possible that the average K-12 student could live within their browser quite happily.Others in education aren't quite as enthusiastic. Jenny Levine, The Shifted Librarian, acknowledges that she uses cloud services a great deal of the time, and is very pleased with them. Yet she's fearful that we haven't thought through the consequences of using the cloud, and in particular of selling (or giving away) such a large part of our souls to Google:
Teaching critical skills about the cloud will become just as essential as teaching how to evaluate a website, even more so as products continue the march to becoming services. The ease and convenience of accessing this stuff via any computer, including a cellphone, is pushing people to do things they would never do in the “physical” world. Imagine trusting someone you don’t know knocking on your door and saying they’ll take good care of your private data and access to your computer. “Trust me.” Seriously?Schools, of course, don't only use computers, they also seek to educate their pupils in their proper and worthwhile use. Levine suggests that if we're going to move to the cloud, they're going to have to devote serious effort to helping pupils understand the ramifications of such a move.