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?

  • Using advanced applications for digital media production poses a significant challenge for students who might not have access to this software outside the classroom. Regular access to the labs become a necessity for many students in order to complete assignments. This sometimes has it own problems and cloud computing has been able to help facilitate the sharing of student work. Unfortunately, with high demand for classes, providing around the clock access to computers can be difficult for some institutions. Projects like UConn's http://skybox.uconn.edu/ help improve this situation but securing rights to distribute software can be difficult. [- matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Oct 21, 2013]
  • Cloud computing can make learning accessible and affordable to EVERYONE, not leaving anyone behind. The cloud can integrate tools and services for learners who may need to use specific-to-their-needs' tools and services (such as learners with disabilities, elderly people, etc.) - Eva Eva Oct 21, 2013
  • In collaboration with BYOD, cloud based tools, storage, and collaboration applications will move universities away from being providers and suppliers of technology to being facilitators and connectors between the the device user and the proprietary resources of the academy- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013

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

  • I regularly monitor the communication from IEEE and have found that Data security in the cloud is a huge concern by all, not just education. Are there adequate back-ups? Is there protection for private data? While I agree that some information should be free, there is some that should be kept secure and private. - cchandler cchandler Oct 27, 2013cchandler
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • I hope to see cloud computer allow users to purchase a license for a software and access the application from any device. I know this is available at some level but I hope to eventually see it for the more advanced applications which will help alleviate some of the pressure for round the clock access to computer labs. [- matthew.worwood matthew.worwood Oct 21, 2013]
  • Cloud can ease the way to learning inclusiveness by removing the obstacles that appear when using multiple systems or devices. AT tools and services integrated in the cloud of all public institutions (Educational in this particular case) would finally guarantee that nobody is left without the access to education. Learner will be able to juggle between computers (lab/class/own/etc.) seeminglessly - Eva Eva Oct 21, 2013
  • Institutions will become less focused on the provision of digital tools, and more focused on providing access and accessibility to content. The will shift resources from the provisioning of tools and more toward the provisioning of knowledge.- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013
  • We are exploring the opportunity to have cloud service vendors provision their services in university controlled cloud accounts to reduce the risk of cloud services that can be a unpredictable in their longevity. This would at least allow us to more gracefully transition services. - alanwolf alanwolf Oct 27, 2013

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

  • Global Public Inclusive InfrastructureGPII introduces automatic personalization of user interfaces and user context adaptation based on user preferences. Each information and communication technology (ICT) device will be able to instantly change to fit users as they encounter the device, rather than requiring users to figure out how to adapt, configure or install access features they need. It also introduces a system of shared components and services to reduce cost, increase interoperability, and foster innovation. - Eva Eva Oct 21, 2013 What an outstanding example but not sure it fits here?
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