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Classrooms in the cloud

Ramkumar Pichai
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A quiet revolution is taking place in India’s education system. Academic institutions are increasingly turning to the cloud to make education richer, of a world standard.

Imagine this. Children are busy learning online and building their own class projects ahead of the annual day function. At the same time teachers use the cloud to update the syllabus and interact with as many as seven million technical students across India; who may just have the next big digital idea.

This even as students at an MBA institute brainstorm business strategy — though online video conferencing — with actual companies handling real world challenges/actual companies facing different business challenges/ the actual companies that make up their case study scenarios.

This is just a small part of the potential possible with the power of the cloud. Over the last one year education institutions’ as different as Delhi Public School (DPS)-Mathura Road, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and IIM Bangalore have adopted enterprise standard cloud-based services that offer simple online collaboration tools such as video conferencing and messaging, increased productivity with its ability to participate in online tutorials, collaborate and share files and notes on assignments and interact with fellow students and teachers.

These are cloud-based tools that students can start learning as early as primary school itself. Recently DPS, Mathura Road moved to cloud based interaction tools — such as email and instant messaging — for their 5,017 students. This means that young students can now talk to each other and work on projects that matter to them together. The classroom suddenly has no boundaries to learning.

Online classrooms also offer high quality learning beyond primary and secondary education. A particularly good example of this is the IIM-Bangalore. Given the increasing move towards a flat and connected world, IIM-Bangalore is focused on helping business students become more skilled in working on a virtual team. To do this, one of the business professor’s at IIM-B interacted regularly with a colleague at a prestigious university in the United States and used the cloud to build joint business case studies.

Becoming used to cloud-based IT tools such as presentation suites, video conferencing and file sharing also means skill building for students. AICTE which handles over seven million students, roughly half the population of Delhi, and a staggering 500,000, faculty members recently adopted cloud on a massive scale for all its colleges — making this one of the largest moves to the cloud by an educational institution anywhere in the world. Because of this move, students at colleges under AICTE will enter the job market, work-ready and with a complete set of IT skill under their belt.

As cloud based tools enter the education system in India at different levels, it is the start of a new revolution in education. A revolution that will sweep away the boundaries in a classroom and allow learning to pour in from all over the world. This is true education.

The writer is GM – Microsoft Office Division, Microsoft India.

Becoming used to cloud-based IT tools such as presentation suites, video conferencing and file sharing also means skill building for students

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