As an educator, IT professional or administrator responsible for technology, you're likely faced with the same challenges as your counterparts in business and government. Chances are you're being asked to continually deliver improved services on an ever tightening budget, while also driving operational and cost efficiencies from your IT assets.
So, what's the most efficient way to source these capabilities?
Cloud computing in the EdTech sector
Academic administrators face a range of competing priorities in the use of technology, with their IT staff and platforms being challenged to support advancements in learning innovation, while also cutting the cost of ongoing service delivery.
Clearly there is an imperative for IT to help streamline operations – globally, education costs have risen 84.0% since 2000, 46.6% higher than the rise in the CPI.
IT, however, also needs to viewed as enabler. Technology should be a central mechanism for improving teaching and learning, not only directly in the classroom, but also as a way to provide services to other areas of the institution to improve the overall human capital and infrastructure supporting education delivery.
This has created a boom in the educational technology (EdTech) sector, with an array of solutions growing to support these challenges.
The global EdTech and Smart Classrooms Market is expected to grow from US$43.27 Billion in 2015 to US$93.76 Billion in 2020, with educational cloud expected to be the largest share of these technologies.
Schools typically have higher capacity IT needs than a standard office environment, supporting a wide variety of technical needs, such as:
- Digital learning delivery models, including:
- Large scale printing;
- Multiple wide area internet networks;
- Specialist course support, such as 3D printing, Robotics training, Mathematical modelling, etc;
- Student Apps - there are more than 80,000 education apps in the iTunes store alone;
- BYOD for staff and students - laptops, phones, tablets; Windows and Macintosh environments, all needing to be securely supported by the school’s network;
- Parent-Student portals for centralised information exchange;
- Streamlining internal communications, such as IT service management, scheduling and billing reminders.
These challenges are compounded by the large numbers of people, and diverse campuses these systems need to cater to. Large schools can have more than 1000 students, and dozens of staff. Universities and tertiary educations may have tens of thousands of students, and several thousand staff, potentially spread over multiple buildings, and multiple locations, sometimes even internationally.
To manage this complexity, schools are increasingly turning to innovative partners who can help deliver these core requirements.
SaaS- Bridging the Technology Capability Gap
For many institutions, redesigning their technology delivery teams and practices is a complex, time consuming and risky endeavour, leading to the growth of Software as a service (SaaS) as a means of rapidly deploying new application services or functionality.
The cloud computing in education market is estimated to grow from US$5.83 Billion in 2015 to US$15.02 Billion by 2020, with SaaS delivered functionality being the largest portion of this growth.
SaaS delivered email, for instance, has become the standard, with nearly 70% of higher education institutions in North America having moved their email systems to the cloud.
SaaS vendors typically specialise in developing and maintaining discrete, best-in-breed software, which can easily be integrated with existing IT platforms, and are constantly upgraded, without the need for investment in the requisite research, design and development of new technologies.
Cloud-based communications technologies have emerged as a key tool for educators in streamlining operations to support academic outcomes.
Chech back in next week as we take a look at the ways that SaaS delivered communications technologies can be rapidly applied to give educators immediate access to the tools you need to solve your immediate challenges.