It may seem surprising, but classroom education lagged behind other sectors in the adoption of Internet technology, claims Chalkbeat Colorado. The tide has changed, though. Those who were once vehemently against bringing the Internet into the classroom are now some of its strongest supporters.

Why? We have tasted the stew and discovered the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. Online technology, the Internet and the cloud are revolutionizing education.

What Is the Cloud?

The mystery that once surrounded the cloud has rapidly become commonplace. Cloud technology has opened up a whole new way for pupils to interact with their teachers. So exactly what is the cloud and how does it work?

The concept is simple. Don’t over analyze it. Data “in the cloud” normally refers to information that is accessed over the Internet instead of your computer hard drive, explains PC Magazine. On the other hand, data backup with a cloud service has been moved from (or copied to) a computer system maintained elsewhere. You simply upload data to your cloud storage, making it safe from crashes and operator errors. When you want it back, you retrieve it. That’s it.

What Can the Cloud Do for You?

In a way, the cloud is a third party to the process. Other computers stand ready to receive, retrieve and safeguard your data. It’s like a surgeon turning to an assistant and saying, “Scalpel, please.” Here are three things the cloud can do for you:

Backup: A generation or two ago, the excuse for late homework was: “My dog ate it.” That has been trumped by: “My computer crashed.” Smart students save a backup copy of their work, and smart teachers require it. With storage in the cloud, backups can run automatically or on demand. Now, there is seldom a good reason for anything to get lost.
Sharing data: There was a time when college students were apt to be told their syllabi and handouts for class could be picked up at the local Kinkos. Not so, today. More often, the pundit refers the scholars to a website where the files can be downloaded. Class websites are a type of cloud storage where information can be uploaded, downloaded, shared and accessed from any computer. Instead of having to print information or constantly email them to yourself, you can access the site from anywhere on any device.
Working together: Every good teacher knows the value of collaboration. But even group projects have evolved. Now there is no need to crowd around a table (though that is seldom a bad idea) or even be in the same building at the same time. With cloud collaboration, the project can reside in a mutual space that everyone can access and work together on at any time. Moreover, the teacher (or an administrator) can easily check in to see how things are going and offer suggestions.

How Do I Get the Cloud?

The big three options are Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. However, if these don’t fit your needs, there are plenty of others out there. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out a review site like Top 10 Cloud Storage to see what types of cloud storage are available.

Of course, remember to check your school policies before investing in anything. Your institution may even have a cloud service of its own. And, if your school is still developing its online policy, go help.

As with any piece of technology there are potential hazards. Some of these include hacks, cheats and crashes. Nothing this side of Glory is perfectly safe, but don’t let fear keep you from one of the biggest boons to education to come our way.