5 Cloud Computing Tips for College
From the chalkboard to the white board to the laptop computer, the college experience has evolved dramatically over the last decade. Armed with an ever expanding array of technological tools, students are learning faster and more effectively than ever before. Ironically, a natural result of this increased ability to assimilate information is greater classroom expectations and workloads. Fortunately, with the advent of cloud computing, tech savvy students can gain a greater academic advantage. Here are 5 ways students can utilize cloud computing to achieve greater success in college.
1. File sharing – Bringing people of different backgrounds, abilities and personalities together to accomplish a common objective is difficult under the best of circumstances. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that few things are more challenging for self-motivated, independent students than participating in the dreaded group project. Being that group projects often require individuals to create and share documents with other group members, and that these documents will be subject to ongoing revisions, it’s critical to share them in the most effective way possible. While traditional methods such as sending the files to each group member’s e-mail address or transporting them from one computer to another using a USB-stick are both easy and inexpensive, they come with built-in limitations, especially if the files are large and contain high resolution photographs. Another drawback is that any changes made to a given file must be resubmitted to every group member, which often leads to confusion and unnecessary duplication. By utilizing a cloud- based file sharing app, such as Dropbox, it’s possible to share project photos, documents or video files with all other members of the group in an organized and synchronized fashion. Since all files are stored in an off computer cloud folder, they can be accessed anywhere at any time with all the latest changes.
2. Time management – One of the biggest challenges college students face today is juggling their academic and social calendars. Students who meet in study groups or are involved in group projects that require them to gather together at certain places and times can turn to cloud-based scheduling apps such as Doodle to meet their needs. Instead of contacting each person individually and then trying to coordinate a meeting time that works for all, Doodle’s MeetMe page allows everyone access to a collective calendar to coordinate dates and times. Doodle can also be used to keep track of due dates for assignments and projects, lecture dates, and even the where’s and when’s of social activities.
3. Photo sharing/editing – At some point most college students will have presentations or projects that call for crisp, clean, professional quality photos. However, due to a lack of funds in the average student bank account, springing for expensive software is not an option. Fortunately, a cloud-based application called Picnik gives students FREE access to state-of-the-art Photoshop editing software. With a few mouse clicks students can download, edit, rotate, crop and share photos—and even throw in some impressive special effects—in true professional style.
4. Backup service – In today’s college setting, laptops and tablets are a must have. Regardless of how reliable these technological tools might be, crashes can still happen, resulting in a loss of critical data that could be academically disastrous. Although backing up data on CDs and external hard drives is one solution, the process is time consuming and can still leave your data in jeopardy. Fortunately, there are a number of cloud-based backup apps such as Mozy that allow you to back up what you want, from photos to music to word files and other graphics, when you want to. Another advantage of cloud backup is that it allows students to access their data files anywhere from any computer running on a Windows or Apple platform.
5. File protection – With all the web surfing that college students do on a daily basis it’s important to have good antiviral software protection at all times. Thanks to the cloud there are a number of free antiviral apps that are very effective and very affordable. And if you’re looking for FREE, one application, Panda Cloud Antivirus, offers protection from viruses and malicious websites through a process called Collective Intelligence, a system that detects and analyzes computer threats on an ongoing basis to make any student’s online experience as safe, productive and pleasant as possible.