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?

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 26, 2014 Cloud computing provides many benefits to K-12 schools, but the fact that it makes storage of and access to mass quantities of data affordable is the most important. Our school has adopted Google Apps for Education...who knows how much an inhouse alternative would cost in terms of hardware/software, personnel, etc. Our school information management system is "in the cloud"...again, costs would be prohibitive otherwise. Our library system is about to go the same way. We can get deals on laptops and tablets with minimal storage because we'll be using the cloud. Etc.
  • Cloud computing is very relevant to K-12, essential really. Access to school and other resources can be easily provided via the Internet - there should be a wireless network in place that all users can access to do this. Options for open or closed access provide privacy where needed e.g. setting up a google doc or wiki or LMS - any of these can be open to the public or partly open or open for a certain group of learners only. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Jan 27, 2014
  • Using cloud computing is more than how information and services are stored and delivered, it is a shift in how we think of data. Older generations that think of school as a place, in a specific time, will need significant professional development to understand how and develop resources for school that is anytime anywhere.- ryan.tomaps ryan.tomaps Jan 30, 2014 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • I agree with all of the above. Cloud computing allows students to seamlessly go from school to home and back again with just an internet connection. - cbsteighner cbsteighner Feb 4, 2014 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014
  • Cloud computing is already a backbone for most of our students and teachers through the use of ex. Google+, Office365, Blogs or Dropbox. And yes we have worries about privacy and security issues. - claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Feb 5, 2014 Privacy and security are issues that we urgently need to attend to. - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014As I mentioned in an earlier section, I believe the privacy issues around cloud services utilized by educational institutions are going to be increasingly discussed in upcoming years. We're beginning to see more and more parents open to technology concerned about some of the free cloud services utilizing student data. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • Cloud computing is central to solutions that are closing the economic and access-to-education divide in the developing world. The cloud combined with open source tools and context are providing access to resources via low cost digital devices and allowing people in isolated places to collaborate with people around the globe. This isn't just about Cloud computing, but the ability to store documents and apps on the cloud is a large piece of what is making the transformation a reality. - leslie.s.conery leslie.s.conery Feb 8, 2014
  • One big challenge in this area is one of funding. Most schools have developed technology budgets that are capital based to purchase technology. Cloud computing brings about a big shift to operation expenses sides of the budget. In the age of shrinking public general fund funding, this will slow down the large scale adoption of cloud based services until schools and determine strategies to change the funding for these systems. - GTDeYoung GTDeYoung Feb 9, 2014
  • Important technology seen from a cost perspective. From an implementation perspective, many schools require guidance into the jungle of the cloud (ouch, new metaphor?), because there are many providers in the marketplace. Privacy issues are prevalent in Norway.- oysteinjohannessen oysteinjohannessen Feb 9, 2014
  • A few developing country governments are considering investment in establishing an education cloud for k-12 and are being wooed by numerous companies for adoption of 'their' cloud. Guidelines on making decisions on cloud computing investment from national ministry perspective is proving to be very important- shafika.isaacs shafika.isaacs Feb 9, 2014

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

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 26, 2014 Thorough description, but I'd like to see more emphasis on how teachers and students can use cloud computing for connecting, collaborating, etc. The fact that Google Apps for Education, e.g., is free could be addressed as a means for bridging the Digital Divide. - leslie.s.conery leslie.s.conery Feb 8, 2014 I would say not only ""could be addressed as a means for bridging" - but actually IS ALREADY making the difference. Things are possible now with low cost technologies, almost ubiquitous access to the web, and open source solutions that are already reaching learners in underserved communities.
  • The variety of ways cloud computing can be implemented in K-12 schools. It is not all about Google, but it is about connected learning and access to information in the learning process. Web 2.0 tools provide many options for cloud learning - schools often dismiss these in favour of a more locked down approach, but they are a vital. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Jan 27, 2014 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014 I totally agree, particularly the comment about Google.
  • I think a mention of collaboration and an increased ability to be device agnostic is important. [[user:mrskeeler|1391277349]==(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?== * - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 26, 2014 Forgetting money for a moment, our teachers love the collaborative possibilities cloud computing offers. We have four campuses, and before GAFE working together on even the simplest of documents was a hassle. Just the ability to easily share information has been a boost to our connecting, communicating, etc.
  • Totally agree with David - the real impact is on collaborative learning possibilities for all learners - teachers and students. Also, easy access to share files - tools such as Dropbox have revolutionized how we work. In addition, the potential for connecting learners - I am thinking of teacher PD here as well in terms of being able to access virtual conferences and complete online courses - this is growing in importance and availability. - lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Jan 27, 2014
  • Collaboration! - cbsteighner cbsteighner Feb 4, 2014 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014- leslie.s.conery leslie.s.conery Feb 8, 2014- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • I think we need to be concerning ourselves with issues of privacy and security when considering Cloud computing. Particularly what data should be stored / where the data is stored / who can access it / can the data be mined and for what purpose and by who - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 8, 2014- digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • I believe one important area to begin to pay more attention to is the concept of the public/private cloud hybrids that are starting to become more common. As we begin to wrestle more with security and especially privacy I believe this hybrid option will become more common in the K12 arena. - GTDeYoung GTDeYoung Feb 9, 2014 Just in the past 3 months the number of conversations I'm having with other Directors/CTOs/Superintendents about institutional private clouds is increasing. I believe we'll see many more District run clouds in the coming year. Services such as OwnCloud are easy to set up, inexpensive, and provide greater security than the free services. For my cabinet and administration I'd sleep better at night knowing they were using our district services for collaboration over GAFE due to discovery and litigation issues. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014
  • One of the primary benefits of being in the cloud is that you have 24x7 access to resources, regardless of the state of your school properties. By being in the cloud, you automatically get a level of disaster recovery that may or may not have been available to a school before without significant cost. Being in the cloud wiht critical services and data allows you to resume learning after interruptions much faster than if you had to completely rebuild infrastructure.- alex.podchaski alex.podchaski Feb 9, 2014

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

  • - davidwdeeds davidwdeeds Jan 26, 2014 Our ongoing implementation of Google Apps for Education is probably the biggest/best example. To date, however, only teachers and administrators are using it. I'm hoping we can get students using it soon as well.
  • I think the Global Education Conference (http://globaleducationconference.com) is worthy of a mention in this section - and all other virtual conferences. I will also mention the work I am continuing to do with global collaborative projects through Flat Connections (rebrand of Flat Classroom) http://flatconnections.com and 'cloud'-based projects for all levels of K-12.- lindsay.julie lindsay.julie Jan 28, 2014
  • Google Apps, Microsoft 365, Web 2.0 tools... the future is now. Try to throw a rock and not find someone working in this area. My students use a lot of cloud computing. - mrskeeler mrskeeler Feb 1, 2014- leslie.s.conery leslie.s.conery Feb 8, 2014
  • Tustin Unified, my District, is beginning to put in a private cloud for storage and collaboration. I think the technology is still in it's infancy for K12. - digitalroberto digitalroberto Feb 9, 2014