June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.150.1 - 15.150.10
An Experience with Cloud Computing in the Classroom
Introduction Cloud computing is a general term for shared applications and infrastructure provided by an external service provider and paid for on a pay-per-use basis. For enterprise computing based on a business model that relies heavily on in-house computing infrastructure, the cloud concept has major implications. Vendors such as Amazon and Google sell reliable and scalable computing resources that are generated by very large-scale virtualized, distributed computing systems. Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite provides communication and collaboration functionality delivered through a subscription. Microsoft targets small businesses with the suite of services advertising that the organization will no longer need to “maintain a complex IT infrastructure of its own”. The question for enterprises then is “Who needs in-house servers?” A somewhat parallel question for college educators might be, “Who needs to use an in-house learning management system?”
Cloud computing has implications for personal computing as well as enterprise computing. Web- based email was one of the first “hot” cloud applications to make it big. For example, Yahoo Mail, Microsoft’s hotmail, and Google’s Gmail all compete, offering free accounts with practically unlimited storage capacity. Many other software applications are available through the cloud now, and soon there will be many more. Rather than purchasing software and installing it on a local machine, applications like Google Docs provide free computing software together with storage resources, all available anywhere and anytime, as long as the user can connect to the World Wide Web. Coupling Google Docs with Google Groups provides the power to collaborate. Microsoft Office Live and Microsoft Office Web Apps (currently invited technical preview only) comprise Microsoft’s entrant in the online personal productivity market. These cloud applications allow users to take advantage of anytime anywhere access to familiar products (built to function similarly to local installs of MS Office) in addition to online storage and sharing of documents.
This paper will first describe the history of cloud computing and then provide information about some of the technology behind cloud computing. The paper will examine results from one of the authors’ classroom experiences with a cloud-based office productivity tool. Included in the discussion will be features and functionality of the product, as well as student reactions to its use in class. The purpose of the paper is to provide an overview as well as guidance for others who are considering classroom use of emerging cloud capabilities.
History of Cloud Computing
The concept of cloud computing began in the nineteen-sixties as technologies to connect computers to each other and enable them to transfer data back and forth were just beginning to emerge. Even before the first two computers were connected together to exchange data, Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, the director of Behavioral Sciences Command and Control Research for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), envisioned a shared computer network. His vision went far beyond what would begin as ARPANET and later evolve into the Internet, and his vision also went beyond what came to be known as the World Wide Web. The scope of
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