In my excitement about Google Docs’ new offline feature I overlooked writing about some of the possible implications of this new feature for education. One the drawbacks to cloud computing is that it relies on Internet connectivity. The OLPC and Classmate laptops rely on cloud computing for much of their functionality. The with cloud computing is if your Internet connection or network is unreliable then the inexpensive OLPC and Classmate laptops lose much of their functionality.
Google Docs’ new offline feature could change the way we look at cloud computing. There is a discussion among many tech bloggers that the technology employed by Google for the offline feature of Google Docs could be used in other cloud computing applications. If this is true it could represent cost savings for school districts. Most cloud computing applications that schools would use are available in some form for free which can reduce software costs. Cloud computing applications like Google Documents offer a lot of free storage space which can free network server space for school districts.
The potential benefit of taking cloud computing offline is very significant for students without Internet access at home. Students will be able to start a collaborative project at school where they have Internet access, work on a project at home then come back to school to sync their work with their classmates.