Using Cloud Computing in IT Education

graphic representing the importance of cloud computing in education.
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Jill West is an author and instructor at Georgia Northwestern Technical College


Cloud computing is not only revolutionizing IT, but also IT education. You might have heard the statement, “Cloud is just using someone else’s computer.” While this statement contains a kernel of truth, it’s not entirely accurate. Many of the principles we’ve learned and taught for the on-premises software environment do transfer to the cloud. However, cloud technology itself is transforming many of the basic processes we’ve always used to organize and manage IT infrastructure, security, and software development. And as IT is transformed, so must we update our courses and curriculum programs.

What resources do you need to train your students in cloud computing?

  • A widely respected, entry-level cloud certification
  • A curriculum that is easy to work with, picks up at the right point in your students’ learning path, and presents material in clear language that scaffolds more complex skills on top of foundational concepts
  • Hands-on projects with ideas and resources that give you and your students free and simple access to multiple cloud platforms
  • Efficient and effective training to help prepare you for teaching cloud skills and concepts

CompTIA Cloud+ Certification

The CompTIA Cloud+ certification is the only vendor-neutral, entry-level cloud cert currently available in the market. For students who are entering IT in any specialty area, attaining the Cloud+ certification helps lay the foundation for them to understand and incorporate cloud technologies in all areas of IT.

With 97% of companies currently using the public cloud, we must prepare our students to integrate cloud-native ways of thinking and doing IT throughout their careers. The CompTIA Cloud+ certification provides a structure and set of standards that crosses all areas of IT.

Cloud in the Learning Path

More than adding one or two cloud courses to our programs, we need to incorporate cloud tech into nearly every IT course we offer. Essentially, we need to “cloudify” our IT programs.

If you’re considering adding a cloud computing course to your existing certification or degree programs, try Cloud+. It covers entry level concepts and skills that prepare students to work in any cloud platform. They will finish the course with a solid understanding of what the cloud is, how it works on a conceptual basis, and how to find their way around nearly any cloud environment. Positioned after the A+, Network+, and Security+ courses, Cloud+ provides the building blocks to understand cloud, not just memorize services, features, and idiosyncrasies particular to a single platform.

However, Cloud+ by itself is not enough. I start teaching my students cloud skills from the beginning in our A+ hardware class. My A+ hardware students build their own server instances in the cloud so they can see how the things they’re learning with physical computers applies to the virtual resources in the cloud. Meanwhile, my Security+ students learn about cloud security and my database students learn about cloud-hosted database services. Cloud is not simply a specialty area that only a few IT professionals need to understand. Cloud is how we do IT today. As instructors, we need to incorporate cloud concepts and skills in nearly every IT course we offer.

Cloud Access

Many of the market leading cloud providers offer extensive and free resources to faculty and students. Hands-on projects throughout the Cloud+ course in MindTap give students opportunities to work in three public cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, and Google) while Live Virtual Machine Labs get students building their own private cloud within the MindTap environment.

Instructions guide students through setting up traditional free trials with each cloud platform or, if available through your school, to use educational cloud resources without having to provide a credit card. Author-created videos guide students through many of the projects’ tasks in all three cloud platforms so they can see processes before they do them, and so they can benefit from examples in any cloud platform you decide not to use in your course.

Cloud Training for You

How can you prepare yourself to teach cloud computing?

Cloud providers offer extensive self-paced training and documentation for services in their platforms. Starting from the beginning with IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, you can use public and educational training resources to get up to speed quickly and expand your own expertise. You might pursue the Cloud+ certification yourself, followed by vendor certs from AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Alibaba, and others.

This kind of training takes time. Not everyone has the time to become an expert in new technology before teaching their first cloud course. By popular demand, we recently created a video series for instructors to cover the basics of cloud computing at the Cloud+ level. If you’re already comfortable with servers, networking, and security, the Cloud Train-the-Trainer video series will give you instruction on cloud-specific concepts, demonstrations of using the most popular cloud services, and tips for accessing educational cloud resources.

Keeping Pace with Change

IT is constantly changing—we already know this. Cloud technology is evolving at an even faster rate than other areas of IT. The MindTap for CompTIA Cloud+ Guide to Cloud Computing course includes a new feature called Level Up! to provide you and your students with the latest information on cloud technologies and keep you informed between each edition of the course.

It’s an exciting time to be in IT. It’s even more exciting to be an IT instructor as cloud tech is emerging and evolving. Part of the appeal of IT is that it keeps changing, and there’s always something new to learn. Nowhere is this reality truer than with cloud computing.


To learn more and watch the Cloud Train-the-Trainer video series and review the Level UP! modules available in MindTap, consider adopting Jill West’s CompTIA Cloud+ Guide to Cloud Computing.