Beyond Technology | Education | Swimgrid | Professional Development | Student

Does K-12 Need Cloud Computing or Curriculum Integration Workshops?

By Ernie Delgado

I came across an article on ZDNet that is proclaiming that China has modernized its education system because it has installed 6,000 cloud service terminals in 300 schools. The article goes on to say that the project will save money and optimize resource allocation. I agree with the last part but I have a problem thinking that they have instantaneously modernized their classrooms with the installation of terminals.

Chinese cloud services provider, 3Tcloud, is implementing the country's biggest education cloud project, enabling the local authority to optimize resource allocation and cut maintenance costs.

According to a report last week on Chinese tech site CCIDNet.com, the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang--one of China's most developed provinces--has installed over 6,000 3Tcloud computing terminal devices in 118 schools. The terminals are supported by 28 pieces of blade servers and a 60TB HDD storage installed in the city's information center.

The project, scheduled to be fully completed in 2015, would replace all obsolete PCs in the city's school system with over 30,000 cloud terminal devices. It would cut costs on software and hardware maintenance, lower power consumption to 3W per device level, as well as allow the municipal education authority to collectively allocate online education resources and enhance efficiency in administrating each school's computer rooms.

"By using such a system, we could effectively push forward the development of the city's teaching, resources, research, and evaluation--all of which is done on the cloud," said Chen Xikun, director of the IT center at Zhuji's education bureau. "Take teaching on the cloud, for example, students in different courses have full access to all resources available, and it helps the elementary and secondary education of Zhuji develop in a balanced way."

Since the project's commencement in April 2012, Shanghai-based 3Tcloud has been replacing PCs in the schools in Zhuji with X900 cloud computing terminals, a device that supports virtual machine under CHP protocol and is no bigger than a ADSL modem.

"To modernize an information-based education system, we will continue to set up multiple Zhuji-like education clouds in China in the future," said 3Tcloud CEO Tan Tianting.

We can learn from domestic schools that just providing the hardware is not the answer. What is the answer? Teacher training and support via curriculum integration workshops is the answer.

The bottleneck in education is that most teachers do not have the ability to use the technology tools that are available or they do not have the time to re-create their lesson plans to take advantage of those tools.

Many of them were never told or given a demonstration on how technology can positively impact their jobs. Even younger teachers are struggling to take their limited technology experience and carve out time to address their own classroom curriculum.

I believe that given the current teaching environment we need to increase training and modeling to teachers and also re-write lesson plans calling for the proper use of technology the entire situation can be fixed. Now how do we find the time and proper model to do this?