Cloud Computing | Feature

Can CoSN Help Your District's Cloud Decision-Making?

Good decisions about cloud computing require information, and information takes time to gather. But time is in short supply if you are also working to build, maintain, and plan for the future of a school’s technology infrastructure. With cloud computing only one piece of that system, there’s the added challenge of considering how cloud resources support or conflict with other technology needs. The Consortium of School Networking (CoSN), a professional association for school district technology leaders, is one group that looks at “all of the above.”

A membership organization, CoSN offers the usual benefits: regular updates about the latest news in the field, legislative updates from Washington, D.C., continuing education opportunities and a technology leadership certification, a library of original research, and professional connections to peers and experts. But CoSN is also committed to a consistent and sustained effort to improve the overall quality of technology use in education in the United States.

While it offers member-only resources such as white papers, articles, and field reports, CoSN also gives schools some essential resources they aren’t likely to have the money or time to develop. A recent example is the e-mail sent to education-technology staff in the path of Hurricane Sandy; it provided disaster-recovery information and tools from the IT Crisis Preparedness Initiative developed in 2008 in response to Hurricane Katrina.

“Given the number of states and local communities impacted by the storm, we wanted to remind school leaders that there are resources to help them plan for disaster recovery,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN, in the e-mail. “Crisis preparedness and recovery is vital to protect and maintain information and IT infrastructure, from hardware and software to critical data, including student records and payroll information. It’s important that district leaders/CTOs have the tools necessary to act quickly and decisively.”

The CoSN website offers other free materials covering topics from online security and K-12 open technologies to green computing and leadership in mobile learning. Staff, consultants, and members are actively engaged in raising important issues related to cloud computing, including responsible use policies (See Emphasizing Responsibility in Mobile AUPs, January 2012).

With active chapters in 14 states, CoSN offers members additional resources that apply to their areas. The organization also leverages the expertise of a variety of consultants across the country to assist with the development, planning, and execution of advocacy efforts, report-writing and information-gathering.

The cloud won’t evaporate the same way technology funding is, so the cost-benefit analysis of membership depends on a district’s technology focus.

About the Author

Margo Pierce is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer.