Cooperation, the Cloud, and a New Culture for Public Education

The IlliniCloud Cooperative is that rarest of things: a genuinely good idea that worked even better when put into practice. But don’t tell that to Jim Peterson, the technology director of the Bloomington, Illinois, school district and co-founder of the IlliniCloud. He’ll simply say, “We’re just the unsexy technology in the background.” Yet that “unsexy” technology is proving to be a game-changer when it comes to improving the education and economics of public schools across the United States.

Digital and Cultural Transformation

The IlliniCloud began modestly: a technology to allow a few neighboring school districts in the heart of rural Illinois’ tornado country to launch a disaster recovery service. The idea worked so well, and the cost-savings were so immediately obvious, that Peterson and his fellow school technology directors realized their technology might be the way to solve a host of problems challenging their individual school systems.

“We have a lot of siloed problems in K–12 education,” Peterson says, such as school districts operating independently of one another and individual school administration and curriculum departments doing the same. And, he says, “We also have siloed technology problems.” Peterson and fellow IT directors realized that if they could solve one of those silo challenges, they could perhaps solve the other. And with that insight, the IlliniCloud was born.

The IlliniCloud addressed head-on the fiscal challenges each individual school district faced in trying to maintain its own data center and associated IT infrastructure. Delivered as infrastructure as a service (IaaS), the IlliniCloud is now radically changing the economics, as well as the formerly insular cultures, of public school districts in Illinois.

One School District at a Time

Thanks to the IlliniCloud, participating districts and individual schools can share hardware, applications, services, and IT support at a fraction of the cost of individually purchasing and managing these systems themselves. The resulting cost savings are enabling schools—especially small, rural schools—to invest in programs and resources that would otherwise have been far beyond their budgetary reach. The IlliniCloud allows all its member schools access to a wealth of online resources, including educational applications and the most advanced digital technologies available. Underlying all this progress is VMware technology, helping the IlliniCloud Cooperative change the game for public education, one school district at a time.

Watch the video to learn more about how VMware technology helps power the IlliniCloud Cooperative.