Cloud Computing and The Future Of Higher Education Post-Covid-19
Author: Dr. Sri Gaddam (Doctor of Management), CEO, ERPA Group
The coronavirus pandemic that is currently ravaging the world has drastically changed how things are done across different sectors of the economy. At present, the federal government and corporations are seeking alternatives to business operations while having faith that normalcy will return in the very near future.
One industry that has been hit especially hard in recent times is education. Colleges and universities are currently trying to stay afloat in an ocean of financial challenges as a result of the pandemic While many were able to shift to remote learning, that shift did not come without costs and complications.
What Challenges Does Covid-19 Pose For Higher Education?
The pandemic has created a myriad of challenges for higher education institutions. Here are just a few of the biggest challenges:
- Financial Challenges: Higher institutions are currently losing a lot of money due to the pandemic. Money that can be raised from parking fees, dining, housing, books, sporting events and other revenues can not be generated at the moment. In addition, some institutions are faced with refunding fees for tuition due to the typically lower rates charged for on-line learning, and mid semester housing and food. While revenues have been severely limited, costs are being incurred. They must invest in scaling virtual engagement modalities to stay relevant. These rising costs have induced the restructuring of operations to suit industry demands resulting in reduction in staffing across the country.
- Registration Crisis: Adding to the financial challenges,, student enrollment for the coming semesters have been gravely impacted by COVID-19. With the shutdown of many cities and states, the uncertainty of in-person classes as well as the risk of students contracting COVID 19, has many students and parents rethinking their educational plans for the fall. Some are choosing to take a gap year to allow more time for the uncertainty to dissipate while others are changing where they plan to go to college, opting to stay at home rather than live on campus. Add to the uncertainty of safety at campuses, the recession resulting from the pandemic has added financial pressure to many families making it harder for some to afford to go to college. There are hordes of questions that enrollment officials do not have answers to including whether classes will be in person or remote, will sporting events be permitted and if not, how will that affect sports based scholarships, how will dining halls and residence halls be impacted and so on. With so many unknowns, both both prospects and current students can become discouraged. Convincingly answering these questions and arriving at practical solutions that work for everyone are uphill tasks that must be completed if the tertiary institutions are to remain solvent. These situations are compounded by increasing costs of tuition and a corresponding increase in student debt.
Is Cloud computing the answer?
Cloud computing is the availability of computer resources and computing power to multiple users. When deployed to e-learning, it makes learning easier as students no longer need to carry physical books or sit in lecture halls. Live chats, video conferencing, online assessments, and virtual labs are remote learning trends that are facilitating the virtual classroom. Regardless of the current disruption caused by the pandemic, students can still have excellent educational experiences, all thanks to cloud computing.
How can cloud computing facilitate operations of universities?
- Virtual Classrooms: Cloud technology allows instructors to have face-to-face interactions regardless of geographical location. Functional and well-optimized cloud technology will enable them to negotiate the issues of the enrollment crisis.
- Reduction of operation cost: With cloud computing, the costs of resources (ebooks and video materials) that are often expensive are eliminated. This will reduce the costs of education for all the parties involved. Besides reducing the expenses, the students can have access to the most current information in their fields of study.
- Access To Cloud-based apps and Storage: The need to acquire personal storage devices or software is eliminated because students now have access to cloud-based apps that meet that need.
- Having Virtual Labs: This is taking the virtual classroom further. With virtual labs, students can benefit from instructor-led sessions in online labs that are easily accessible anytime and on any device.
What does Cloud Computing Offer Higher Education in the Future?
Cloud computing has a lot to offer the higher education field in the nearest future. Its benefits are enormous, and they include:
- The flexibility of Modes Of Instruction: Cloud computing will make it possible to merge both traditional and modern methods of learning and instruction. With well-deployed cloud technology, conventional higher education will be blended with online classes. Before the pandemic, certain universities had online education platforms. In the future, more universities will further leverage their online education prospects. Cloud technology will increasingly play a more significant role in the way students in tertiary institutions are instructed and trained. Digital learning will be the trend, although the connection with physical campuses will remain. It might take a while for both methods to merge. With time, the merging of the traditional and modern means of instruction will offer tertiary education and flexibility that never existed before. Future learning models will incorporate the idea of community into the digital learning experience. There will be increased interaction by students across the world, allowing for a more global experience by all. What’s more, online platforms will allow for the exchange of current and updated content.
- Increased Accountability: The higher institutions will be more accountable to their students and graduates. The changes that cloud technology will generate will ensure that older modes of instruction will become obsolete. On the one hand, students will have access to cutting edge tools and technologies. On the other hand, the content that they will have access to will be current and better suited to the changing times. This is especially true with the changes that the pandemic has wrought on the status quo across businesses, industries, and economies. There will be changes in the demands of employers and the way things are done on the corporate and commercial landscapes. Higher institutions will be forced to anticipate these changes in the modes and methods of instruction that they provide to their students. Cloud technology will enable this change as it requires being attuned to current technologies and ways of doing things.
Higher education will never remain the same. Reduced operational costs, online-driven education, and changing modes of instruction to meet the changing times are just a few ways that cloud computing will impact higher education. These changes have already been occasioned by the current pandemic and are ongoing. However, more institutions of higher learning will be forced to leverage public clouds as multipliers that will facilitate their adoption of virtual models of instruction.
About the author
Dr. Gaddam is a seasoned entrepreneur who launched three successful technology companies in the last seventeen years. Dr. Gaddam’ s greatest accomplishment lies in raising ERP Analysts, Inc. from a two-person organization to eighty-five million firm. ERP Analysts, Inc. has been recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies by Inc. 5000 for ten years, Deloitte Fast 500, & Business First Fast 50 for several years. ERP Analysts is recognized as a “Best Places to Work” in Ohio for several years (www.erpagroup.com). Dr. Gaddam graduated the Doctor of Management (DM) from Case Western Reserve University, MBA from the Ohio State University, and the Owner/President/Management program (OPM 43) from Harvard Business School. He is the author of the book “Destination Success: Discovering the Entrepreneurial Journey” and also co-author of “Roadmap to Success,” with Deepak Chopra, Ken Blanchard, and other entrepreneurial leaders.