Over the last twelve months I have seen a lot of effort by technology companies and a lot of reference by educators about the move to the “cloud” and “cloud computing” being a game changer for the education space. I totally agree.
Becoming totally reliant the “cloud” is a really bad thing. It is important that the devices, apps and software all are able to work in their own right, whether connected or not. Technology companies and education decision makers are forgetting that education MUST go on, regardless. And whilst we get guarantees like 99.99% up time, and next business day SLAs – what about the 0.01% and the four days between Friday morning and Monday afternoon if a critical network device “goes down”. What about if the trans-pacific fibre connection gets cut again, or a backhoe goes through the main school (or home connection) and our internet speed approaches zero. Does education stop? Should we stop using technology just because the cloud has gone away and the skies are clear?
Looking at the most recent offerings of one of the great technology companies, it seems like there are two pathway the internal developers are taking for Microsoft. In my opinion, one is the right path – the other is not in educations best interest.
Any long time reader knows that I am a fan of the Surface family of devices and paired with OneDrive and O365, this is the right path. When connected to the cloud everything just works. When not connected (and even if the power goes out) it all still works (especially with the awesome extended battery life of Win10). Plan B is just to keep going and when the cloud comes back, everything just sorts itself out. The local apps, software, storage and processing is key to this working – sure you may lose some bells and whistles and “add ins” – but core functionality is maintained. OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint all work perfectly, and even the internet leveraging Office Mix (and the related awesome new Snip tool), and OneNote Class Notebook just keep going.
In contrast, Sway (technically part of O365 now) and Photosynth (the new version replacing the phone app and the panorama part of the camera app in Win8.1) are only able to be used and leveraged when connected to the cloud. I love both of these new tools, don’t get me wrong, I just hope that the continuing development sees at least a subset of the functionality able to be utilised when not connected.
Technology companies and educational decision makers need to always remember that technology is part of our education, and when used, education still must be able to continue, regardless of the technological weather.