Within the last several years the term cloud has come to mean much more than those fluffy white things in the sky. When described within the context of computing it also means much more. Cloud-computing is the use of software, services, or storage that reside on servers elsewhere that can be accessed from most anywhere on any computer.
For example, in our office we use Google Drive as a way to access and create documents. But cloud-based computing can be just as powerful when used for eLearning.
Cloud-Based Training Benefits
There are a number of benefits inherent with cloud-based eLearning including:
Increased Employee Productivity. In an increasingly distributed workforce, all employees need access to eLearning resources anytime and anywhere. This could be anywhere from the office during business hours, to a job site on the opposite side of the world. Furthermore, logging into an organization’s internal network may require the use of VPN software which a member of the IT staff will need to setup and configure.
Reduces Any Upfront Costs. With the cost of cloud-based computer services like Amazon EC2 and Window Azure being driven down because of fierce competition, the initial setup cost for any business to use cloud computer is far less. Additionally, the flexibility offered by them allows for a business to grow based on their needs without incurring a higher cost to purchase, setup and maintain server hardware that resides within the physical space of the office. In the case of a cloud-based LMS, this allows the computing power to be increased to accommodate an increased amount of users.
Resilience and Fallbacks. We’ve all experienced a case where mission critical software or data is suddenly unavailable. This could be a crash of a hard drive on a laptop or the office mail server suddenly going down. Cloud-based services are designed to be resilient with several layers of fallback. Most importantly, data and software are never just stored on a single physical server but rather replicated across several in various locations to ensure that it is safe. Furthermore, in the event that something goes wrong, it’s far easier to restore training data and software from a cloud-based server than were the problem to exist on a server within an organization. This means that any data from your learning management system (LMS) and the courses themselves can easily be restored to a working state.
Easier To Upgrade. In the case of a cloud-based LMS, any upgrades will be handled by the service provider and tested thoroughly before it’s deployed for production use. From a management perspective, this means that the software they have access to is always the latest stable version with new features and improvements immediately available.
Easier to monitor. A training manager may need to access employee eLearning data in order to answer a question about employee performance. Often times, they may be asked to answer this question when they’re out of the office. Being able to log into a cloud-based LMS, pull up the data, and pass along the information not only makes the job of the training manager easier, it saves time and consequently money.
In this day and age, data and services are everything. If mission critical data and services are suddenly lost, it could have a crippling impact on an organization. Not only does cloud-computing make good sense from that perspective, from a eLearning perspective it allows employees and managers alike to enjoy the benefits of eLearning that is always there when they need it most.