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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cloud Computing, Google and 1-to-1

This week I joined the Google Teacher Academy in NYC along with 60 of my colleagues from around the country to learn more about using Google in the classroom, and am now a Google Certified Teacher.  This is exciting on many levels and I'm looking forward to designing presentations/workshops infused with Google tools.   The whole thing has me thinking about 1-to-1 and "cloud computing" - and how much this makes sense. 

Having your computing device with you anywhere you go is one thing - and a prime reason that 1-to-1 works - but what of your work?  It's either on your computer's hard drive or back at the school's network.  Was it synched and are you working on the latest version?  Did you collaborate with some other students and change things but someone else has the right version?  Did your computer start choking and make ominous noises and stop functioning?

Thinking back to Septembers when I would talk to 7th and 8th graders and share my hope that this would be the year that none of them lost any of their work due to failed computers and non-backed up files. After five years of making that speech to the 12, 13 and 14-year old rolling eyes, I wish I could say there was a year without lost work because it wasn't backed up - but there never was.  Diligent at first, as are we all, about dragging files to the server, by the time winter break rolled around, the slipping began.  Late fall or early winter there seemed to be at least one, maybe two, failed computers.  Sometimes through unavoidable mechanical failure, usually gravity claimed several.  "Were the files backed up?"  "No."  

But with cloud computing, the documents are backed up (provided the "cloud" is reliable) and accessible from another computer from home or school or the library.  The latest version is there, shared, and updated, even if several people are using it.  1-to-1 and its power amplified because collaboration, sharing, and backing up are the norm.  Maybe there may be fewer rolling eyes if the backup speech is eliminated, although in schools there are always other speeches.

Microsoft is now at a similar juncture to 10 years ago when they realized the Internet would be big - they are realizing cloud computing is going to be huge.  So they're developing tools for "the cloud" - so we can likely expect more players in the cloud computing arena before long.  It makes lots of sense for business and also for schools to combine remote computing with remote documents. 

1 comment:

Bill Campbell said...

As a Tablet PC using member of the staff at a 1:1 school, two issues with cloud computing come immediately to mind me.

First, I still want offline read/write access to anything important. This really hit home as we experienced intermittent Internet connectivity problems at school during the past couple of weeks. I had been using Google spreadsheet for my GTD next actions list (and other things) for a couple of months. While Google Gears is great for read/write docs it only provides read access the spreadsheets and that read access wouldn't let me export the spreadsheet so I can could work offline then reimport when the problems was resolved.

I ended up moving to Excel, which has more startup and RAM overhead than I would like as compared to anything browser based.

Seeing what Google has done with Gears so far, I'm guessing time will solve this for Google Apps (maybe with something in Chrome ?) and hopefully other cloud applications will follow suit.

Second, I do use a few web 2.0 and cloud computing applications and have experimented with more, but I have yet to find one that supports digital ink, which is a feature I'm used to having as a Tablet PC user with Microsoft Office and OneNote readily available.

On a tangential note, the edACCESS steering committee tentatively decided yesterday to have a cloud computing panel of case studies at edACCESS 2009.