As far as cloud technology is concerned, there are many public and private cloud services that may come in handy for both teachers and students alike. But for this discussion, we’ll be focusing on iCloud – Apple’s treat for their iOS devices and Mac users. How does it benefit educators in particular? How can it change the traditional classroom learning experiences?
Convenience provided by iWork Beta on iCloud
One of iCloud’s latest features (debuted along with the iOS 7) is the inclusion of the company’s proprietary iWork suite (rival to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Documents). Although it’s still in Beta phase, the iWork tools allows the creation of word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Unlike the new Microsoft Office app for the iPad, it doesn’t require a $99 annual subscription, as it can be purchased for a one-time fee $30 for older iDevices or free for new iOS handsets.
With iWork, educators can create engaging visual aids, grade sheets, and lecture notes using their Mac or iOS devices. Here are its features:
· Pages – apart from being a plain document creator, Pages allows the insertion of images, live hyperlinks, and clickable video overlays.
· Numbers – it has the ability to create customized formulas on each cell for easier computation of grades and test results.
· Keynote – it can create professional presentations with amazing visual effects, transitions, and animations. Users are also allowed to insert videos on each slide.
As compared to the usual desktop-based documents, the iWork app on iCloud no longer requires you to manually email or transfer your finished outputs using a thumb drive or an external storage to share them. As highlighted by the iPhone 5c page on O2, iWork documents automatically sync data across all your devices in real-time over the internet.
A Unified Calendar System
The iCloud calendar app can also store content and push it to all your devices real-time. This feature makes an excellent tool in a school where calendar events are of great importance. Teachers can maximize it when setting up assessment tasks, meetings, in-campus sporting events, and scheduling of homework and class activities.
Highlighted by Greg Swanson of Apps in Education, this smart calendar portion of the iCloud can be shared with multiple iOS users. Thus, whenever you add an event, anybody else who shares the same calendar can automatically have their calendars synced as well.
Goodbye Copier And Paper Handouts
This technology also eliminates the need to distribute hard copies of lecture notes to the students. With iCloud, teachers can simply send a view-only link option of their suggested resources to their students and they will all be notified at once. This feature can be utilized when assigning homework and conducting quizzes.
Mobilizing Your eBook Library
Using the iBook application for iOS and Mac OS, teachers who purchase digital learning resources from the Apple bookstore no longer need to sync their other devices with their PC-based iTunes software just to be able to transfer the purchased digital books. This feature also includes the functionality of Amazon’s Kindle automatic sync that allows you to retrieve the last page where you left off. This may come in handy in class reading activities, where a single title is shared by every student across the room. This also applies to all the downloaded digital learning resources from iTunes U, a dedicated Apple online catalog of free educational content shared by schools and educators.
Although it is a powerful online-sharing platform, the iCloud still lacks the collaborative features of the One Drive and Google Docs. Chat or instant messaging is not included in the web application which could have been very useful for group activities and after class consultations. Though track-changing is allowed in the iWork Beta for iCloud, your students are still required to log-in to their iCloud account to be able to access and edit them (unless the file is sent via email), otherwise it would only be a read-only preview.
With iCloud, Apple is indeed establishing a future where learning is seamless, engaging, and collaborative. But, as education continues to evolve, there might be other cloud computing vendors out there that will challenge the Cloud-based learning spectrum.
Jennifer Birch is a freelance blogger who’s very passionate about the various innovations in the field of EduTech, including wearable devices and augmented reality technology. Connect with Jenni via Google +.