If you went to an education technology conference that didn’t mention the word ‘cloud’ then you’d be in the wrong place today.  Everyone is talking about the possibilities but there are only a relatively small number of institutions that have done much more than provide email or file sharing.

So along comes Microsoft with the Azure platform and all of a sudden the possibilities have extended far beyond most peoples expectation.  What is Azure?  It’s like Windows in the cloud with the full development platform and server components that many institutions have in their own data centre;for more information look here and this picture will perhaps help a little.

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Last night, I read an article in the Seattle Times (on-line, the printed version doesn’t yet reach Sheffield) and this article caught my attention.  It describes how 250,000 laptops will be rolled out to school children in Ethiopia running on Azure.  The solution provides teachers with the ability to manage curriculum and monitor student records and data securely across the education system without the requirement to build a large-scale infrastructure.

I believe this is a great leap forward in education capabilities and look forward to further announcements from Microsoft and more stories like this.