Amazon Web Services: digital innovation in higher educationSupporting international learning with cloud computing

Supporting international learning with cloud computing

As higher education institutions the world over transition to digital teaching and learning, cloud computing is an increasingly important tool, particularly when it comes to internationalisation

To support greater international collaboration and meet the changing needs of students from different backgrounds, universities will need to adapt and modernise their digital offerings. 

At a virtual discussion for Times Higher Education’s Digital Universities Week, Jude Sheeran, principal of international education and research for Amazon Web Services (AWS), shared insights into how cloud-based solutions can help. A major benefit of cloud-based learning, he explained, was “the ability to scale almost without limit with demand”.

During the pandemic, AWS moved millions of students online within weeks, an undertaking that was made possible by the cloud. “That is something I think taught a lot of education systems about the importance of being able to scale quickly,” Sheeran said.

Online security and a lack of connectivity still present challenges on a global scale – more than 3.5 billion people live without internet access. Here, governments and NGOs have a role to play in closing the access gap, Sheeran added.

But the pandemic has shown that shifting towards cloud-based technologies is both possible for universities and can improve student experience. “What we’ve learned is that the cloud provides fluid and responsive experiences almost anywhere in the world, given a reasonable internet connection,” Sheeran said.

Cloud technologies are also helping education leaders to monitor student well-being from afar, Sheeran noted. For instance, predictive analytics can be used to detect when students are unable to keep up with their workload.

“Remote learning can be an isolating experience,” he said. “We are seeing a number of responses to that: more focus on the co-curricular life skill development that we need to complement the purely academic digital experience.”

While Sheeran agreed that, in the past, some institutions had struggled to adapt to cloud technologies, he was confident that progress was being made as leaders realised the importance of aligning student skills with industry needs.

“At Amazon, we believe in learning by doing, and I think learning pathways will become even more experimental in the future.” Thanks to new technologies, he added, it was “increasingly possible” for universities to be more flexible with their course offerings.

“Universities are, by definition, some of the most innovative institutions on the planet…The inevitability of cloud-based education and what that means for students will compel universities to become more innovative as time goes on and truly take advantage of the opportunities,” he said.

Watch the session on-demand above or on the THE Connect YouTube channel.

Brought to you by