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 share their information and applications.

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

  • Cloud computing is on the radar of all HEIs for reasons of efficiency, accessibility, standardisation and ease of maintenance. It is only a matter of time before cloud is the norm.- b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015
  • - Larry.McNutt Larry.McNutt Feb 15, 2015
    To realise any iteration of a digital campus will require cloud computing as a key component. However, the advantages need to be articulated from the perspective of the learner i.e can we provide a better experience for them with a cloud computing architecture.
    I am not convinced on the cost perspective - investment will still be significant. It also pre-supposes similar levels of connectivity off-campus.

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

  • For reasons of security private cloud solutions are favoured by instituions but not always by the educators who tend to prefer less restriction. As more institutions move to this model there will be compliance issues in migrating legacy content from other platforms and there may be tension from educators wishing to use their preferred tools than may not be standard provision - b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015 I agree! There is a definite tension between what is offered by institutions and what educators may want to use. I am an example of this, having moved all my online activities and materials to an external server as my institution could not support what I needed. The difficulty is then to integrate institutional and external 'cloud solutions' in a way that makes senses to students. And of course, all the technical support, including backups and security falls on the academic... - francoise.blin francoise.blin Feb 14, 2015
  • Decisions on cloud may be made by the central IT administrations and there is a danger of neglecting consultation on the educational interface. - b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015
  • - Larry.McNutt Larry.McNutt Feb 15, 2015Cloud Computing is unlike any other topic/theme - it reflects a strategic macro view of all IT service provision (of which educational technology is a part). How we ensure that the learner experience is embedded in strategic decisions relating to IT infrastructure they could get lost in the "cloud"!
  • I'm not sure if this is a topic in its own right, or connected to topics such as BYOD and/or single sign on. For many if not all disciplines, the ability of students to access specialist/discipline-specific software from their own laptop has to be a central plank of HEI digital strategy. BYOD needs to be a 'negotiated' approach, where colleges can advise students about the most appropriate devices to own, relevant to their particular programme of study. - jimdevine jimdevine Feb 10, 2015 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 14, 2015 Description, rationale and discussion.... Virtualisation and Cloud go together: Cloud Computing is already a topic? - Phelim.Murnion Phelim.Murnion Feb 18, 2015 The use of virtualisation as infrastructure and also potentially as a teaching methodology, particularly in STEM education. - tony.hall tony.hall Feb 21, 2015 [Editor's Note: Great Points! Added here from RQ2]

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on third-level education in Ireland?

  • Improved IT services - scalability, consistency, reliability - b.murphy1 b.murphy1 Feb 14, 2015
  • - Larry.McNutt Larry.McNutt Feb 15, 2015 I agree- Could be significant - and would add - security, mobility and flexibility. But we need to design learner experiences and related programmes that demand these experiences.

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

  • - Larry.McNutt Larry.McNutt Feb 15, 2015Most HEIs use varying degrees of Cloud Computing within there overal infrastructure from email provision, conferencing, VLE, data portals, IS services........
  • add your response here

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