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iCloud, What’s In It For Education?

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I think the best thing to come out of the Apple iCloud announcement, is that most people who had no cloud-computing idea, listen to music, and understand need to store music somewhere. Additionally, those who can click a digital camera, get the idea of seeing those pictures on all digital devices—anywhere. There’s nothing difficult about that, right? So, does this latest Apple presentation hold any good news for educators?

Well, probably not, other than another simple way to help explain what cloud can do for those who would normally have their eyes rolling during a tech talk.

There really is nothing new here. Microsoft has been talking cloud for years, and Mobile Me users have taken advantage of its capabilities. Personally, iDock has saved me a lot of storage and file sharing nightmares since the .Mac days. Furthermore, not so tech-savvy educators, who use Google online docs and services, have figured out the importance of online collaboration and sharing.

We all know that making money is the name of the game as well. Apple, Google, and others are in that race. Apple certainly is great at making money. I just hope Apple makes the iCloud education effort. Google, and many third-party companies are making the effort. For example, Google Education, with its admin and educator leadership programs has gained educator respect.

Making a cloud effort with the general education population, and not just for “specially chosen” schools makes a lot of sense. While a few do get whatever they need, regardless of cost, most educators don’t get the tools they need for all the ideas they have. Cloud environment could level the field to provide enough tools.

If sharing across devices is really part of cloud computing, then crossing over marketplace fences for the benefit of education should be possible, too. Duke it out in the consumer world, but work together in the education realm. I’m as optimistic as they come, but chances are that won’t happen—really.

The bottom lines for educators, who want to use technology with kids, is to provide an easy-to-use, inexpensive device for every student for collaboration, along with the tools needed to support robust local and global curriculum. That can't happen by charging a lot for third-party tools students can use with cloud. For educators, there’s far more to cloud education than music and pictures.

There are plenty of questions to be answered, but the one I keep coming back to is this: Will cloud ventures look beyond the money to be made out there, in order to provide education possibilities without strings?

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I had the opportunity to speak with an apple rep a few months ago about education and Apple products. The one thing that stuck out to me was how he phrases this, "Apple isn't out to make education products. We just make great products that fit well with education." I have a feeling that we are going to see this attitude with iCloud.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.