If you’re like most instructors, one of your primary course goals is simply to encourage college students to get the very most out of their short time spent under your instruction. One sure-fire way to achieve this is to help them get and stay organized in their assignments and studies. Streamlined organization clears up the distractions that can take their full attention away from your coursework. Your students have sufficiently adopted the go-go lifestyle of nonstop attachment to some form of technology or another, not only in their personal life, but in their academic life as well. You can motivate them to stay organized by showing them how to utilize “The Cloud.”

The cloud is described by Katherine T. Pinard and Robin M. Romer in CMPTR, Second Edition as referring to “…data, applications, and even resources stored on computers accessed over the Internet—in a ‘cloud’ of computers—rather than on users’ computers, and they access only what they need when they need it.”(6) This means that when students are working on one device, such as their home laptop, they can save their work to a cloud service and then easily assess the same files from any other adaptable machine, such as a school computer or their mobile device. As summarized below, Pinard and Romer explain a few pros and cons to using the cloud:

Advantages to cloud computing:

  • ability to access data from anywhere the user has  access to an active Internet connection
  • data is safe if the device is lost, stolen, or damaged
  • Web-based applications are often less expensive than installed software

Disadvantages to cloud computing:

  • possible reduction in performance of applications if they run more slowly via the cloud than they would run installed locally
  • potentially high expense related to data transfer for individuals using high-bandwidth applications (6)

Assigning projects on the cloud

The Questia online library even lets students research on the go and save their materials in personal folders, which can be accessed on the site or via mobile app. Many cloud sites, such as SkyDrive and DropBox, offer free service for those requiring only a limited amount of storage space. These would be a great place to direct your students to get started.

You can even get creative with some exercises to use the cloud. When working on group projects, have your students set up a “shared” folder on the cloud with their group members. Once synced, each student need only drag the files they wish to share to the group folder. The files are there instantly for everyone to see, each student will receive notice when updates are made to the files, and every piece of the project will be accounted for. Easy!

Cloud sharing is also a great way to share larger files that our e-mails (particularly school e-mails) will not permit us to send. It may take a little while to send some files, such as lengthy videos, but it is a reliable way to ensure your content is received and made available to all those you wish to see.

Reference: Pinard, Katherine T. and Romer, Roin M. 2014. CMPTR, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.


Do your students utilize the cloud in their homework? If not, how might you consider implementing its usage in your next course? Share your insights below.