What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing refers to expandable, on-demand services and tools that are served to the user via the Internet from specialized data centers and consume almost no local processing or storage resources. Cloud computing resources support collaboration, file storage, virtualization, and access to computing cycles, and the number of available applications that rely on cloud technologies has grown to the point that few education institutions do not make some use of the cloud, whether as a matter of policy or not. Over the past few years, cloud computing has been firmly established as an efficient way for businesses to protect data, develop applications, deliver software and online platforms, and to collaborate. Education institutions are deploying similar cloud-based strategies to boost collaboration, productivity, and mobility in teaching and learning.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Cloud provision of large elements of the commodity infrastructure of a modern university is already mainstream and entirely business as usual. Vendors such as Blackboard, Microsoft and Google are providing core services including the LMS, staff and student email and application functions and storage from cloud servers. This is useful in improving the reliability and driving down costs but is hardly novel. Far more interesting are the implications that this technology can be used to support ideas like the "domain of ones own" approach being adopted by the University of Mary Washington http://umw.domains/about/. Here, the cloud is used to create an individual infrastructure for staff and students at a low cost enabling them to create a personal webspace for education and research activities that is free of institutional constraints on innovation and agility. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • - sherman.young sherman.young Feb 19, 2016Shifting of infrastructure to the cloud is (almost) inevitable so long as universities can meet the challenges of new accounting procedures :-) What's intriguing is how the model of incremental improvement that cloud allows *might* empower staff to continue to develop their approaches

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • - gillysalmon gillysalmon Jan 24, 2016 I'm wondering whether education is lagging behind- reluctance to give up all that investment in their own systems? - placing your trust in someone you pay but don't employ- dodgy partnerships, whether data at risk ? eeek? make us feel vulnerable how fine are the distinctions in paying for your own and paying others- maybe price has come down with the competitors? cheaper more reliable distributed computing resources. But you know I'll take that risk- pile in here colleagues please! http://www.sitepoint.com/the-future-of-cloud-computing/
  • Victoria has an educational resilience project currently underway looking at the use of online technologies as a means of sustaining the University in the face of disasters such as major earthquakes (something that weighs on the mind in NZ), a key element of this is the use of Cloud services to remove any dependence on local infrastructure (including such basic elements as identity management and email). This is noted in Gilly's reference and is an important aspect.- stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • Cloud computing, as a subset of outsourcing also needs to be guided by the need to ensure that the University retains the ability to innovate in its core business. This is not just the technical means, but also includes the necessity that organisational skills and knowledge are sustained at a level that allows for leadership and innovation independently of Vendor agendas. An implication is that any cloud initiative needs to be able to be migrated rapidly to a new system when a "better" approach is identified - this speaks to the need to maintain control over key IP and to continue to invest in an internal consultancy/services model for IT that can support the University's strategies effectively. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • - sherman.young sherman.young Feb 19, 2016 in response to Stephen's thoughts, we may see new partnership models between vendors and universities; arguably vendor agendas are best met when they are aligned with their best customers
  • The affordances offered by cloud computing and integrating with an LMS are many. However, in government VET Registered Training Organisations this is not an option as cloud computing is viewed with suspicion. However, the many private RTOs are using cloud with great success due to the ability to access 24/7 anywhere, anytime, for both trainers and students - yvette.drager yvette.drager Feb 21, 2016.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Cloud services mostly are commodities that should streamline education, ideas like the UMW initiative potentially can help institutions shift away from traditional text-heavy assessment models to ones that use a more portfolio approach enabled by the personal domain. Such systems could see universities award credit for entrepreneurial activities hosted through these domains. - stephen.marshall stephen.marshall Feb 14, 2016
  • One significant issue will be the idea of consistency - for better or worse, the LMS provided consistency. Pages and navigation with each system are generally the same, and although some are more complex than others, menus and page structure were generally similar (Moodle and Blackboard, as examples). One significant issue I have seen is the different "styles" people have when creating web pages. This is where technologies like Google Classroom are succeeding. Classroom works to focus on aggregating content into one space and on the question to be answered, rather than directly on the content, in a simple layout with limited "functionality". - jmascorella jmascorella Feb 22, 2016
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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