Three ways cloud can drive a smarter era of education – Technology Record


Guest contributor |

New technologies are transforming education by driving a shift towards more accessible, flexible and engaging educational experiences for students and faculty members, while simultaneously delivering an easier-to-manage and more secure IT environment for administrators.

Cloud-based solutions provide institutions with intuitive, collaborative and extensible applications, deep insights from cloud-scale analytics and a foundation for artificial intelligence-driven strategies that can improve student experiences and outcomes.

Brooke Daniel

“The future of education is being transformed by new technologies developed for the cloud by Microsoft and its partners,” says Microsoft’s Brooke Daniel

Microsoft Azure plays a pivotal role in transforming education by providing powerful cloud-based solutions aimed at empowering educators and learners worldwide. By helping institutions simplify and secure data, improve efficiencies and accelerate learning, Microsoft helps schools reinvest in what matters most. There are three main ways that institutions can achieve these goals with cloud-based innovations.

1. Security and backup recovery made easy

According to Microsoft’s Global Threat activity reports, more than 80 per cent of malware attacks target the education sector, which keeps security top of mind for educators and administrators as they develop new best practices for protecting their students, faculty and infrastructure. Cloud providers make security a top priority, offering multi-layered protection that surpasses most on-premises systems. Advanced encryption provides safeguards against unauthorised access while disaster recovery plans ensure continuity in the face of unforeseen interruptions. The robust security features that are built into Microsoft 365 A5 security, for example, enable schools to focus on providing a safe and engaging learning environment where IT systems are backed by industry-leading security measures. Microsoft 365 Defender provides multi-tiered phishing prevention that helps protect students and teachers from complex phishing attacks and Microsoft Purview Insider Risk Management helps organisations identify and address risky activity by leveraging a range of service and third-party indicators within Microsoft 365.

In addition, automated backup and recovery services provide a secure, automated method for institutions to protect their critical data while enabling them to recover quickly from security incidents and system failures. Secure backup and recovery help schools augment their security posture with encryption for data while at rest and in transit, along with easily configured access controls and monitoring, to track how the information is accessed. The Microsoft ecosystem of partners is helping to enhance security for education with integrations built specifically for the Microsoft Security platform. Cybersecurity firms CDW and BlueVoyant are working together to help schools gain cyber risk visibility and protection. Meanwhile, Conquest Cyber, a BlueVoyant Company, is helping to secure multi-cloud environments and Forsyte’s security management services monitor and respond to threats. 

2. A better learning environment

Cloud technology and AI is a game-changer for educators aiming to personalise learning and improve their time management. Microsoft Copilot with commercial data protection is available for educators to personalise learning, resulting in saved time and energy to reinvest back into their students. For example, staff at Wichita Public Schools, a public unified school district headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, accessed Copilot via their Microsoft 365 A5 accounts to generate and tailor lesson plans for students. They used the AI tools in Copilot as an educational aid for students with diverse learning differences and who speak over 100 different languages.

Microsoft Copilot also provides AI chat for the web with access to models like GPT-4 and DALLE-3 at no additional cost, while its commercial data protection feature enables organisational data to be protected, with chat prompts and responses deleted to protect the privacy of teachers and their students. Teachers can find information they need to deliver lessons with links to content sources and then use Copilot to make it accessible for different reading levels and languages.

Plus, students in higher education can leverage Copilot to study in a way that works best for them such as by brainstorming for assignments, summarising information, get step by step explanations for maths solutions and make their projects more visually appealing.

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3. Simplifying administration

An educational institution is a place of connections – between faculty, students, colleagues, and wider communities. To make an educational network fruitful, schools need systems that connect information where it’s needed easily, securely and quickly. This means they need intuitive, collaborative and extensible applications and low-code tools that improve productivity and processes to positively impact school experiences and operations.

Cloud technology helps to improve efficiency and enhance experiences by optimising core systems, data and analytics. Staff can collocate their business applications, databases, infrastructure and AI services in Azure, and have access to cloud agility and optimised performance that is needed for administrative and academic progress. Azure enables users to embrace a lake-first approach to use accurate, real-time data by connecting separate systems. That data can then be transformed into natural, contextual language with Azure Cognitive Services and Azure OpenAI-powered chatbots to enhance support for faculty and students. The Microsoft Power Platform, Dynamics 365 portfolio, and extensive Microsoft partner ecosystem also provides the connections users need to achieve every aspect of institutional potential.

Looking ahead for learning

The future of education is being transformed by new technologies developed for the cloud by Microsoft and its partners. Primary and higher education institutions are simultaneously improving the quality of education for students while improving their operational efficiencies. AI, learning management systems, online education platforms and student information systems are simplifying IT for educational institutions.

Education collaboration

Primary and higher education institutions are investing in Microsoft technology to enhance their learning courses

Cloud-based technologies provide significant benefits to education by making IT easier and more secure for learning institutions, and reducing the time and effort required for IT administration. These technologies give educators more of the time and resources they need to help students thrive.

Learn more about these technologies via the Microsoft industry webinar series on education.

Brooke Daniel is director of industry partner marketing for global partner solutions in the Americas at Microsoft


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