Increased cloud use in schools will produce more tech-savvy Americans

In Naugatuck, Connecticut, the Board of Education has made it a priority to educate their students from a young age about the benefits of cloud computing. Alan Merly, information technology director for the town’s schools, recently announced that he was planning to implement the cloud throughout its schools in 2013, according to The Citizen’s News. Merly wants to make the switch official in May, begin implementing solutions in June and have students use the new technology by September.

“That’s really what we want for the kids,” Merly said. “We want schools without walls, we want an ‘always on’ environment.”

Unfortunately, though, IT officials like Merly are few and far between in the American educational system. The business world has come around quickly, eagerly embracing the ease and convenience of cloud-based ERP, for instance, but the schools are another story altogether.

By and large, schools are resisting the transition to the cloud. Part of it is a budgetary issue – cloud data is frequently accessed using smartphones and tablets, which aren’t easy for cash-strapped school districts to come by – but part of it is an intellectual divide. American schools are still lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to interest in technology education.

This disinterest is seen in tech employees, too. Scott Skinger, founder and CEO of TrainSignal, recently wrote in his Wired.com blog that even though 94.7 percent of IT professionals say ongoing career training is a must, they’re still largely resistant to attending classes or reading textbooks on tech skills.

“What does this tell us?” Skinger wrote. “That not only is there an obvious skills gap, but that IT professionals need a stronger education support system. If technology requires it and professionals demand it, then why does IT education continue to severely lack the innovation needed to keep up with the speed of the industry’s growth?”

If we are to rekindle American interest in technology, it should begin with our children. There’s a glut of new technology jobs out there in the world today – 14 million new positions opening in the next few years, as Skinger notes – but not enough education to fill those roles with capable workers. If more schools begin to adopt the cloud in 2013 and beyond, the IT workers of the future will be better prepared to enter the professional world.