Get On My Cloud!

clip_image001I read with interest Clifford Brown’s recent blog post about Microsoft’s Live@Edu, ‘Live@edu–Free Tools for Schools from MS’, one of the most comprehensive suites of cloud based tools available currently. Undoubtedly such services are a no-brainer for all budget conscious schools, not alone are there considerable cost savings but the functionality promised by the cloud  far out strips traditional standalone software. Considering the phenomenal growth of cloud based services in recent years, it can only be a matter of time before our entire digital content and productivity classroom needs will be accessed down the schools broadband connection (fast and dependable broadband dependant of course). Microsoft certainly envisages this future for us all and today’s announcement of a $130 million further investment in their state-of-the-art Dublin data centre ‘Cloud demand prompts Microsoft data centre expansion’ only further emphasises their commitment. Of course Microsoft is only one of many technology goliaths vying to provide you and with your own personal space in the virtual cloud, Google (Apps), Apple (iCloud), and Amazon (Cloud Drive) (among many others) are investing heavily in this space and only time will tell who will emerge the dominant player. Irrespective, its certainly where technology is going and its time for schools to tap into it .

Most of us already use the cloud in our personal lives on a daily basis, using all kinds of services from Gmail to Facebook but anecdotally the uptake in Irish schools is patchy at best with many teachers  yet to be convinced (or oblivious) to the merits of cloud based applications at the chalk-face. However by just using the core services provided by the likes of  Live@Edu and Google Apps, schools can deploy comprehensive tools for e-mail, scheduling and office productivity, free gratis and without the need for any software installation. The tools listed here are only scratching the surface of what the cloud can offer and other services out there include cloud storage (Cloud Drive, SkyDrive…), file synchronisation (Dropbox, Live Mesh, Sugar Sync…) online backup(Carbonite, Mozy…), sharing & collaboration  (Office 365Zoho…), the list goes on and on…

So how do I get my school started you might ask? To sign-up for a free school account with either Live@Edu or Google Appsvisit their respective homepages and follow the sign-up links to get cloud services configured for your own school domain.  Alternatively, if using your own domain is not a priority or you want to avoid some of the technical configuration involved in setup, remember TeachNet offers a comprehensive suite of cloud based tools pre-configured (Powered by Live@Edu) through Tmail, TeachNet’s free Online Services for Teachers. To find out more and to sign up click here.

Remember most of the services listed above are completely free (others offer limited free accounts) so what are you waiting for? Sign-up today and see what the cloud can do in your school!

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