What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing refers to expandable, on-demand services and tools that are served to the user via the Internet from a specialized data center and do not live on a user’s device. Cloud computing resources support collaboration, file storage, virtualization, and access to computing cycles, and the number of available applications that rely on cloud technologies have grown to the point that few institutions do not make some use of the cloud, whether as a matter of policy or not. Cloud computing is often used as a synonym for grid computing, in which unused processing cycles of all computers in a single network are leveraged to troubleshoot issues that cannot be resolved by a single machine. The primary distinction is how the host computers are accessed. Clouds, especially those supported by dedicated data centers, can be public, private, secure, or a hybrid of any or all of these. Many businesses, organizations, and institutions use storage, software (SAAS), and API services to reduce IT overhead costs. Google Apps, a SAAS provider, for example, has become a popular choice for education institutions and many have moved their email infrastructure to Gmail and adopted Google Docs for document sharing and collaboration, but such services do not meet the high security needs of many corporations or government agencies. Private cloud computing solves these issues by providing common cloud solutions in secure environments. Hybrid clouds provide the benefits of both types. Whether connecting at home, work, school, on the road, or in social spaces, nearly everyone who uses the network relies on cloud computing to access or extend their information and applications.

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

  • - kathyschrock kathyschrock Mar 1, 2013Whether it be SAAS or a district's private cloud, the ability of the student to be able to get to both software and files wherever they are and on whatever device they are using has to help limit the digital divide. The device can be OS-agnostic, which should lead to low-cost devices for the end-user. Agreed! - kecia.ray kecia.ray Mar 6, 2013
  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 This is a big one for our school, and it's all about money. And not just hardware. For a 1,000-student campus, we have just two full-time computer technicians. We simply can't afford to maintain a server room. Our library system is entirely in the cloud, we're about to use Google Apps for Education...our imminent school information management system will be accessed via the Internet too.
  • Ted talk of building a school in a cloud: http://blendedlearning101.com/2013/03/03/sugata-mitra-build-a-school-in-the-cloud/ - mrskeeler mrskeeler Mar 2, 2013 - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Mar 3, 2013 Very interesting!- jmorrison jmorrison Mar 6, 2013Yes! What will the role of the neuro and cognitive sciences play in the future of education?

  • This is a big issue for schools, having apps in the cloud that may allow any school to have access to a library system or shared documents or any other possiblility is a way of bridging the divide among schools. The digital divide is not only an issue in students coming from different socio-economic levels but for schools. - lmotta lmotta Mar 3, 2013
  • It’s a big issue in Danish schools. More and more teachers, students and schools are taking benefit from using cloud based technologies like Google Apps and Office365 for collaborative works and 24-7 access. Challenges faced are user management, privacy and data security.- claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Mar 3, 2013 Security and privacy issues need to be overcome, if only to reassure the (rightly) risk-averse school. - roger.blamire roger.blamire Mar 4, 2013
  • Google is not available to everyone globally (eg China has challenges with access) therefore a variety of education-friendly cloud tools needs to be available - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Mar 3, 2013
  • In fits and starts, the cloud is much more relevant to many of the places where I work. I just came from Tatarstan (republic in central Russia) where everything runs on a dedicated system-wide education cloud. There are no resources (or storage) available on local networks (one result of this is that the use of USB drives is perhaps at an all time high!). As more mobile devices come onto school networks, and as connectivity in general improves, this trend appears inevitable to grow, especially as the costs of emplying people to manage local networks on-site in schools continues to grow. Needs and desires for students and teachers to have access to content, resources and services no matter where they are (in a classroom, in a school, at home, wherever) will only increase the attractiveness for more unified, cloud-based approaches. - mtrucano mtrucano Mar 4, 2013
  • http://blendedlearning101.com/2013/03/03/sugata-mitra-build-a-school-in-the-cloud/ - mrskeeler mrskeeler Mar 3, 2013
  • - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 5, 2013The game changer with the cloud is that schools no longer need to have the deep expertise required to run numerous services on campus; instead, the IT staff can focus on things that must absolutely be on campus, and that is getting fewer every year. As we have many rural districts that can't afford a full time technology staff, the cloud experience provides expert, well run systems. As these are available on a subscription basis, schools are more aware that they need to budget and keep paying for them. (Unfortunately, a few too many schools think that hardware and servers don't require any expense after the initial purchase.)
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 Cloud computing limits downtime, maintenance cost, initiation cost, and in the case of Google Apps - it decreases time to mastery. It is the number one advance for K12 that is allowing schools previously tech averse to play the game.
  • Again, the lack of funding for education may out weigh the security and privacy issues.- jmorrison jmorrison Mar 5, 2013
  • The more devices come to school, the more materials teachers produce, the more significant it is becoming for us to work with cloud computing. We had a rude awakening of how important at the beginning of this year when our server crashed and we lost most of the videos, audios and larger than 40 MB files due to error in backup as well. The things we managed to get back were the files that were somewhere in the cloud because we had shared or published them! - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013
  • - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Mar 6, 2013Technology departments in school districts have a hard time keeping the skills sets of their staff current with the fast pace of change. This may be especially true for rural school districts. It is critical to have a robust reliable network infrastructure to support this effort.

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

  • - kathyschrock kathyschrock Mar 1, 2013The probable lower cost of devices that use the cloud to serve software and files, i.e. Google Chromebook.
  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 Security is mentioned, but it's not just government agencies and corporations that are concerned about unauthorized data access. Think about the personal information any school has on its teachers and students! Many if not most school administrators are not going to be comfortable with a 100% cloud system unless these concerns are addressed.
  • Issues around privacy and security become even more acute in many cloud-based scenarios. Especially in many emerging economies around the world, digital privacy issues, especially as they relate to minors (most students, of course) and public employees (most teachers) are only now beginning to be considered, and there is often little useful policy guidance available, and even fewer relevant legal regulations, in place. - mtrucano mtrucano Mar 4, 2013 - jim.siegl jim.siegl Mar 6, 2013Privacy is a big topic as we move to the cloud, as is parental involvement and communication. Most parents are familiar with Google only as a search engine and ad service--communication is key, Edmonton Public School s is one example of a district that has put together excelent tprivacy related communication on this topic --https://sites.google.com/a/share.epsb.ca/shareepsbca-help/Home/privacy-matters
  • - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Mar 3, 2013 Information management for the student - when a school asks for one way to share and work that limits or runs parallel to the student creating their own brand and PLN
  • - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 5, 2013I think more emphasis needs to be made on the IT value side. We are moving from the requirement that school IT departments pretend they have expertise in running all the on-campus services (mail server, library server, VLE server, Student Information Server, networking infrastructure, Network OS, etc.) to one where IT departments become less in-depth technical people to being much more effective managers of SAAS connections (that's not phrased as well as I would like) for learning. The advantage is that now maybe schools can start thinking about changing from looking for multiple technical certifications to having educators in charge of their IT. And having educators in charge of IT is the game-changer. (The CoSN CETL certification is a start towards this.)
  • The new cloud data management interface has earned ISO certification and demonstrates that the industry is beginning to adapt to this as a long term solution addressing the data integration that the cloud lacks today. - jeffrey.bajgot jeffrey.bajgot Mar 5, 2013 Microsoft is certainly trying hard to meet this expectation - kecia.ray kecia.ray Mar 6, 2013
  • Other comments regarding security and privacy concerns are spot on. We should not that just as cloud services can reduce expertise demand at the school and district level, service providers can also afford to hire security and privacy experts. So the cloud has potential for better security and privacy though it will take serious effort to overcome public perceptions to the contrary. - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013
  • Cloud and BYOD are compatible efforts. - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013

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

  • - kathyschrock kathyschrock Mar 1, 2013Taking a look at the current crop of plug-ins for the Chrome browser, the number of things that users can already do in the cloud seems to be growing every day. I forsee that, not too long in the future, we will see very thin clients on the desktops or laptops. - jim.siegl jim.siegl Mar 6, 2013 There are some great examples of Virtual Desktop (VDI) and Chrome today - jim.siegl jim.siegl Mar 6, 2013
  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 Lower hardware costs will be a big improvement. Kathy mentioned Chromebooks, which we're considering for our libraries, teachers' lounges, etc. What would really be great if going 100% cloud would inspire our powers-that-be to improve our Internet bandwidth!! This is what I'm hoping will happen, not just at our school but all over. As cloud computing becomes more vital to schools, so will Internet access.
  • By allowing workflows to not be device dependent (not stored locally, not requiring a particular platform) learning is freed up to occur anywhere. Cloud computing could allow for a total revamping of what a school day looks like. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Mar 2, 2013- cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013
  • The growth of mobile devices being used by teachers and students requires as counterpart accesiblitiy not restricted to school servers or hardware . The boundaries of the school are starting to erase. Understanding creativity as a social category and not only a psychological one, the process of creativity is powered by the use of the web as an engine of innovation. It fosters an environment of creation, diffusion and adoption of ideas - lmotta lmotta Mar 3, 2013
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 Curation, reflection, and sharing become more significant than they were without the cloud.
  • - Derrel.Fincher Derrel.Fincher Mar 5, 2013A positive effect is that access could be completely independent of location, time, and device and only dependent on a good connection. True blended learning becomes more feasible and student collaboration between rooms or countries becomes more likely. The negative effect is that schools will try to "standardize" on inexpensive, limited devices and perpetuate a teacher/school centric view of learning. The problem is not that schools are jumping on these services; the problem is that they are simultaneously proclaiming that powerful computers don't matter. Remember the prediction of the death of paper? Just as paper provides affordances that could not be duplicated in computers (and still a few affordances that we have not successfully transferred), the same goes for powerful computers. (This thought could probably apply to several of the concepts here. )
  • - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 5, 2013 More and more teachers are building collaborative online activities as there are many affordable options. They are also working more in teams themselves, and it really helps when we talk about interdisciplinary projects.
  • Edmodo and other free resources provide cloud environments for learning management. These resources are secure, free, and operate on any OS, an excellent option for budget minded schools. - kecia.ray kecia.ray Mar 6, 2013
  • There is a need for flexibility the purchase cloud services using capital money. Many subscription type cloud services are hitting the operational budgets in the instructional areas. Can we capitalize the cloud? - jeffrey.bajgot jeffrey.bajgot Mar 5, 2013
  • Cloud initiatives can move forward standards for interoperability between systems. Single Sign-On is the earliest benefit but data sharing between SIS, LMS Instructional Improvement and so forth become really valuable. - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Mar 2, 2013 We have Apple consultants visiting us next week to ensure our Internet can handle the imminent, sudden influx of mobile devices. As I mentioned, Google Apps for Education, the Rediker Suite, etc., will make us almost completely dependent on cloud computing by the end of this year.
  • We developed a project together with Carnegie Mellon University based on the use of cloud tools this is the final report http://www.ri.cmu.edu/pub_files/2012/1/iSTEP_2011_Final_Report.pdf
    - lmotta lmotta Mar 3, 2013
  • - jackwest jackwest Mar 4, 2013 Meraki, just purchased by Cisco is making networking simple. Google's bandwidth initiative in Kansas is interesting. Hapara's Teacher Dashboard for Google Apps enables teacher to manage the treasure trove of data for their own classes. I can't believe that Microsoft wont present an alternative to Google Apps, but I'm not up on their plans. (I think New York city, Portland (OR) and State DOEs of ketucky and Delaware or the big sites for Microsoft, and these are largely driven by staff email not ed tech use, for Ed tech MSoft use I'd probably cite their epals integration http://www.eschoolnews.com/2010/04/22/microsoft-epals-team-up-on-collaborative-tools/ - jim.siegl jim.siegl Mar 6, 2013

  • As far as Google Apps for Education, I think that we have hit a tipping point for adoption this year in K12 in the United State. I wanted some quatitative numbers so I wrote a script that checked the websites of majority of the public schools in the US. Out of 13,440 school districts scanned, 4,765 were confired to be running Google Apps (35.45%) - jim.siegl jim.siegl Mar 6, 2013
  • - ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Mar 6, 2013Prince Georges Public School has shifted several resources to the cloud such as email and calendaring. The have data to show a significant cost saving and an increase in performance.
  • inBloom with their nine pilot states, multiple pilot districts and more than 20 vendors! http://www.inBloom.org - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013
  • I just attended the Amplify launch event yesterday. Single vendor for cloud services, learning content and 1:1 computing devices. http://amplify.com - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 7, 2013
  • - mscofino mscofino Mar 8, 2013Yokohama International School is fully invested in Google Apps for Education. All students and teachers actively (and almost exclusively) use GApps for collaboration - including GDrive folders for student work and resources, sites for sharing with the public, calendars for meetings & event scheduling, and reader to capture the RSS from individual student blogs. We use WordPress MU (through Edublogs) for our individual student and teacher blogs, which, when combined with Google Apps, gives us a great blended learning environment. More here:

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