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cloud computing

R.J. Gravel (@rjgravel) is the director of instructional technology for Johnsburg School District 12, in Johnsburg, IL.

As more school leaders adopt cloud-based technology to support educator and student achievement, the need for efficient processes to run student and teacher accounts increases.

In the past, printed instructional materials would be received, sorted, labeled and distributed to classrooms. Materials traveled from the office to the teacher, then from the educator to the student. But for cloud-based materials, the distribution process looks quite different.

This paperless solution uses cloud-based technology to give school boards and other governing bodies electronic options for processing various documents, including agendas and policies. This eliminates the need to assemble, print, distribute and revise board packets.

Reader Testimony: 

“BoardDocs’ paperless solution provides board meeting agendas, minutes, supporting documentation and other information via the internet to board members, district personnel and the public. And far fewer trees have been needed to disseminate information.” — Jeri Clayton, administrative assistant, Jordan School District, Utah


Chromebooks and Google for Education enable schools to use the power and simplicity of the web for unlimited teaching and learning opportunities, engaging stakeholders and creating dynamic learning environments that align with district curriculum and student achievement goals. This web seminar, originally broadcast on March 19, 2014, focused on the unique benefits and features of Google for Education, and how Chromebooks can be used to improve student learning, collaboration and innovation.

To maximize the power of technology and the web, district leaders must define a clear purpose around using these tools as a method of deploying curriculum. At Del Mar Union Schools in San Diego, California, administrators used Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education to aid in preparing students for academic achievement and college and career readiness.

With so many cloud options, district CIOs should push vendors for details about their security and privacy services. “With the cloud, you have to ask big questions,” says Taiye Lambo, founder of CloudeAssurance. He suggests that CIOs assess three major security areas: confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Cloud computing is taking K12 by storm with fully 90 percent of K12 institutions relying on or implementing cloud technology in 2012, according to the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). District CIOs are under increased pressure to cut costs and keep up with the latest technological trends, and implementing the cloud is an easy fix.


Richland (Wash.) School District No. 400, which has 15 schools, more than 11,000 students, and 1,400 employees, was challenged with an aging desktop infrastructure and limited financial resources from which to replace or replenish it. “Many of our machines were eight to 10 years old and running Windows 2000, which had reached its end of life,” says the district’s Executive Director of Information Technology Michael Leseberg.

Falcon Virtual Academy gives teachers 1,000 Macbooks.

Do school district leaders receive even close to a full return on investment for 21st-century technologies like online learning, videoconferencing and interactive whiteboards? Technology vendors and their most engaged, enthusiastic customers say that many educators leave significant potential untapped because they are unable to see how technology could be more transformative or are unwilling to make the bold moves necessary to align curriculum with technology rather than the other way around.

Sixth-graders from the Wayland-Cohocton Middle School in New York train on Toshiba tablets, which the school won in a 2010 Win a Wireless Lab Sweepstakes.

Tablets have come a long way since Apple launched its pioneering Newton MessagePad in 1993, the first Internet-connected flat-screen device pairing a stylus with handwriting-recognition software. Since then, computer hardware companies have been refining and experimenting with the concept of Internet-connected tablet computing devices. The personal digital assistant (PDA), convertible laptop/tablets, dual-screen booklet tablets, e-book readers and other designs have been among the many iterations of tablet computers, sometimes known as slates or media tablets.

Industry experts and district technology officers offered a number of thoughts on what K12 school systems should know before investing in a new or upgraded student information system. The questions they suggest asking are: