Schools across the nation have begun the transition toward cloud computing, and administrators knowledge and ease of use with cloud services ranges from early beginners to the very advanced. A new nonprofit organization, eduCloud, plans to level the playing field by developing a set of best practices for the development of K12 content, tools and assessments hosted in the cloud. eduCloud, a project launched in January 2010 under the direction of the nonprofit organization Visions of Education, is a membership-based organization attracting constituents from private technology companies, schools, administrators and national education organizations to discuss requirements for students engaged in cloud computing.
"The challenge we have here is that there's a lot of buzz around the cloud—it's a $300 billion marketplace," says Bruce Wilcox, eduCloud's founding chair and vice president of Blended Learning at Classlink. "The implications, however, for the K12 solutions are dramatically different."
These implications include concerns over the safety of student data and online learning environments, new demands for vendors, updating content and tools, and — because one isn't tethered to a single machine in the cloud — how to handle the possibility of a "bring your own device to school" model for students.
"We're hoping to clean up what could be a messy thing," says Wilcox. "People want a convening environment to work these things out."
According to Berj Akian, an eduCloud founder and the CEO of Classlink, the goal is that by including members from outside the vendor community, such as educators and policymakers, the consortium will be able to foster a deeper discussion on cloud computing.
Otto Berkes, general manager of the office of the chief software architect at Microsoft and supporter of the consortium, believes eduCloud can greatly expand access to learning systems. "Broadening access to education to learners everywhere through cloud-based services and technology will be essential to fully realize the promise of cloud computing."
For more information on eduCloud, visit educloudconsortium.org.