Technology’s greatest power is in its ability to break down barriers of geography, time, and hierarchy. And the capabilities of the cloud ensure that your students can use technology to get the information and access they need, no matter where they are or what time they are working.
It can be a real challenge to get a group of students together to plan for a collaborative project, especially if they don’t all live on campus or if some of them work. Rather than making a time to meet at a central location, students can set a time that they can all agree to be in an Internet-capable place and communicate on a Google Plus Hangout. They can even record the sessions to refer back to later — who doesn’t need a little help remembering exactly what they agreed to do?
Evernote is a time-tested and beloved tool for educators and students alike. Why? Because it is easy to use and available on any device you want to use. As mobile devices have proliferated, Evernote has released native apps that allow users to take notes and share them no matter which device they are using at the time.
Using handwriting recognition apps on their tablets, students can enter notes in a method that feels familiar but takes advantage of the best features of the technology — and possibly save a few trees in the process.
Educators and professionals love TED Talks, the short videos of notable experts talking about “ideas worth spreading.” Students can use these as background for presentations and reports, in their initial searches for the right experts to interview for their research, and just to get background on something their professor mentioned in class.
When a research project requires input from real-world experts, LinkedIn can be an amazing tool to help students find leaders in their field of study. And LinkedIn’s InMail feature boasts high open rates, helping them get a response in a timely fashion. In fact, LinkedIn will refund the cost of an InMail message that goes unopened for a certain amount of time, ensuring that students don’t lose if their expert is on vacation or just not actively engaged with LinkedIn.
This also helps students prepare for their professional future by creating a long-term professional social media profile that potential employers can view when it is time to apply for internships and post-grad jobs.
The proliferation in free cloud services is a boon to students who may not want to carry around a flash drive or other storage medium as they work on multiple devices. Each of these services offers at least 5 GB of free document storage, with the option of upgrading if students need more storage space.
Google Drive has built-in productivity tools, while SkyDrive and DropBox are best for students who already have access to a suite of tools, such as Microsoft Office. Students who own an Apple device may have access to a no-cost storage allotment on iCloud, and those who want on-the-go access to Microsoft Office can purchase a subscription to Office 365, which includes cloud-based storage.
What are your favorite cloud-based tools? What do your students use the most? Which tools do you wish more people knew about?