Cloud computing is a popular model for sharing computer resources across multiple platforms and devices. The question how advantageous cloud computing is to college students is an intriguing one, and this research paper seeks to unravel the mystery of cloud computing and its benefits.
Chances are, most people have seen television commercials or online advertisements regarding cloud computing technology at one point or another. Some consumers may quickly dismiss the relevance of cloud computing in their lives, wondering how such technology could benefit them in an already technologically inundated world. This sample computer science essay explores why college students should make the switch to using cloud-based storage technology as a way to bolster their academic performance and improve their overall efficiency.
Cloud computing makes life easier
Research shows that even informational and educational technology professionals will only entertain using new technology when they have strong reasons to believe it will lead to significant and relevant payoffs (Aharony 646). College students, in particular, have a lot to gain from using simple and easy to learn cloud computing technology. Moreover, most students already use cloud computing technology in some form or another, even if unbeknownst to them.
College is difficult
College life presents multiple challenges for new and veteran students alike. For many individuals, entering the post-secondary educational arena encompasses an unprecedented level of academic, social, and personal development challenges (Stern 2013). Managing goals and overcoming barriers across each of these dimensions requires a considerable amount of efficiency and finesse.
Working-class adults and parents are also attending college at an increasing rate and, for this group specifically; time management and organization skills are a necessity (Kohler, Grawitch, Borchert 247). Simultaneously performing well as a college student, parent, and professional requires an exceptional level of efficiency, otherwise affected individuals may fail to perform in one or more of these roles.
More than a few tools exist to assist college students with the endeavors above. However, the wide array of technology available to college students is daunting and may repel students away from engaging in potentially effective technology solutions (Henson 2). Determining which types of technology provide useful services imposes time constraints on college goers’ already busy schedules. However, cloud computing storage technology yields positive effects on students’ academic performance, time management capabilities, and overall efficiency without significant startup demands on students’ time.
Cloud computing 101
The world of cloud computing is extensive and, as a result, many prospective and viable users refrain from exploring cloud computing software because they presume its usefulness requires considerable training and time they cannot afford (Park Kim 378). Cloud computing may be revolutionizing the way people communicate and interact with the world, but using cloud storage does not necessarily take a large amount of time to learn.
Social networking platforms have influenced our culture and even entered the academic arena. They are essentially massive cloud computing systems provisioned and designed for specific purposes, which most college students use on a daily basis. Similarly, some individuals have likely seen or heard about cloud storage technology such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, even if they lack hands-on experience with it. This essay is specifically concerned with this last group of cloud storage technologies because they have the potential to simplify multiple aspects of college students’ lives (Faisal 67).
What comes with a free cloud storage account?
The underlying premise of cloud storage technology is simple. College students often need to save frequently and retrieve documents, videos, websites, or audio files as part of their course completion requirements. The free cloud storage accounts offered to students by Microsoft and Google come equipped with 2 GB – 15 GB of free cloud storage space.
Since a twenty page Microsoft Word or Adobe document only consumes around 200 KB, 1 GB of storage provides enough room to contain 50,000 documents that are each twenty pages long. Similarly, most song files from iTunes or Amazon require approximately five MB, meaning that approximately 200 song files can fit into one gigabyte of cloud storage space.
The free accounts afforded to students from the above service providers contain enough storage space for most students’ needs, plus there is usually enough room left over for managing music and experimenting with other forms of media. For students that want more space, 200 GB only costs about five dollars per month. Regardless of which provider students use, it is important to remember that academic effectiveness in college is not only about activities that directly relate to studying, tests, and writing papers.
Any time savings college students can manage ultimately supports their academic efforts because it reduces pressure associated with performing and fulfilling other duties (Faisal 67). For example, using cloud storage for managing music means college students’ media is one place instead of having to transfer, load, and shift music files around from one media device to another (and its free if you already have the music).
Main Benefit: Ease of access
Most students rely on email and physical storage devices (thumb drives, flash drives, etc.) to manage ongoing work on their assignments because there is a risk to online privacy. This methodology is inherently flawed because sending and receiving copies of assignments and projects via email is time-consuming and thumb drives can be lost easily. Additionally, this method results in multiple copies of file versions since each time files are edited they must be moved from one device to the next or from one email to the next, not to mention the number of steps involved in this process is inefficient.
To be clear on this point, count the steps required to finish working on a file at work so it can be worked later at home. The file on the work computer needs to be saved, attached to an email, sent to an email account, retrieved from the email account later at home, downloaded again to the home computer, and then work on the file can resume. This process of course already took place to get the necessary files from the home computer to the work computer in the first place, thus, the number of clicks, steps, and minutes this process requires is unproductive.
Cloud storage reduces lost information
Alternatively, college students who use cloud storage software can skip all of these steps because applications like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive allow students to write academic essays, spreadsheets, presentations, and other forms of content on within their cloud accounts. Students can even do this if they do not own Microsoft Office or other native word processing programs. Work completed on documents, spreadsheets, or presentations in Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive is saved in real time as users work on their content. Approximately five seconds after users stop typing, their progress is updated and saved without students having to do anything.
If users need to stop working on an assignment because they need to leave for class, depart from work to head home, or for any other reason; there is no need to email or transfer files manually. Content in the cloud is always there and can be worked on intermittently from personal and work computers, mobile phones, tablets, or on campus from lab computers (Park Kim 376). Although additional benefits exist for users who install cloud storage programs on their primary computers, which is still free, working from the cloud does not require the installation of any software. Therefore, even users whose places of business or college campuses restrict software installations can still use the cloud because it is web-based! A web-based interface means college students have the ability to use
Therefore, even users whose places of business or college campuses restrict software installations can still use the cloud because it is web-based! A web-based interface means college students have the ability to use extra time on their hands productively at the click of a button, whether waiting in a movie theater, riding in a taxi, or waiting for an instructor who is running late.
Collaboration challenges without the cloud
Perhaps most significant of all are the collaboration capabilities afforded to college students electing to use cloud storage solutions. University courses that require medium or large projects often call for collaboration activities between students and require numerous revisions as final projects take shape throughout the semester or quarter. The collaboration utilities of cloud storage applications are especially meaningful to college students enrolled at institutions that heavily on team-oriented projects, learning teams, and collaboration over distances (Lin, Yu, Wang 9).
Students who collaborate with peers without cloud storage applications normally rely on web-based messaging systems embedded within colleges’ student websites or conventional email systems. When it comes to formally exchanging documents or integrating input from multiple students’ into a single file, participants typically end up copying and pasting content from an original source into another student’s document, attach the updated document to a message, and post the message for other team members.
This process is then repeated by each participant until, eventually, a final draft is achieved. Unfortunately, not only is the sharing method redundant and repetitive, but team members do not know when one person is working on the shared document, which can result in confusion among team members about who is doing what and when.
Enter collaboration in the cloud
Alternatively, the same team of students using cloud storage technology can all work on the same document or multiple documents within a unified shared space, as if all team members possessed copies of a universally synchronized thumb drive. Collaborators’ input can even be added and edited simultaneously in real-time, where members can observe work from other members taking shape as it happens, and this form of simultaneous work can take place by multiple members at the same time.
Use along with other study apps, participants can post instant messages as they generate new ideas or think of responses to their counterparts’ content. Most impressive of all is that these aforementioned described utilities require no more than 30 minutes to get the hang of because most users are already familiar with Google or Microsoft interfaces, meaning that using cloud storage applications, utilities, and functions are mostly intuitive.
Imagine working on a 20-page project with four other team members with five days remaining before the deadline. Instead of having to ask each team member for an update, teammates can simply log into their cloud storage accounts to see where each team member is at, offer advice or share ideas, or see if other team members need help.
Anytime comments or updates take place, both Google and Microsoft’s cloud storage systems allow users to set up email or text message notifications to automatically generate when other team members add or edit content, post messages, or upload new materials. Sharing in the cloud is easy and safe because users can choose to share only select files and folders while other folders can remain private.
Automatic backup capabilities
Cloud storage accounts also come equipped with automatic backup capabilities on computers containing full cloud software installations. Consequently, users do not have to upload their saved work to the cloud manually when working from computers where they have installed the software, which is normally the case when using a temporary computer or work computer that prohibits the installation of software. When users upload a piece of work to their cloud account from a temporary computer or work computer, it will already be saved on the primary computer waiting for them when users resume work.
This process is automated because the cloud storage software automatically boots when users power on their computers, and the software knows to analyze whether any changes took place to users’ cloud accounts. Essentially, the fully installed cloud storage software works hard to maintain a mirror image between folders and files in the cloud.
Time in the cloud is time saved
Succeeding in college is a big deal for first-time college goers, adult students, returning students, and graduate students with veteran experience. According to a study by Hoeschler and Backes-Gellner regarding the long-term impacts of dropping out of college, affected individuals experience self-esteem and self-efficacy challenges even decades after their choice to withdraw from college (1). At one point or another, a student’s decision to stick with a college plan usually hinges upon a few precipitating and definitive moments. The elimination of unnecessary and frustrating tasks significantly determines the extent students experience college positively. Cloud storage applications can save students substantial amounts of time and prevent frustration, which could make the difference between student perseverance or withdrawal.
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Hoeschler, Peter, and Uschi Backes-Gellner. Shooting for the Stars and Failing : The Effect of College Dropout Self-Esteem. N.p., 2014. Print.
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