Why Cloud Computing provides Flexibility for Online Learning in Higher Education

Cloud computing is the emerging IT (Information Technology) of higher education. Has your head been left in the clouds with confusion on how this new technology works? Many of us have.

What is cloud computing? To understand how cloud computing works, think about MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. They have remote back up company sites that filter email and store data. It is stored in their ubiquitous space and not on your computer. You can twitter away and receive messages without adding extra software on your computer.

The benefits for education are that users do not have to buy, install nor require support on their computers. It is infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). The acronyms mean that the software and data are stored in a remote computer. The remote storage means that there is no limit to how much information can be stored. This leaves the individual computer memory storage unaffected. Just think what this means for education? With cloud computing, a student is able to access information and data from any computer in the world. The University of California did a pilot program in 2007. They developed and distributed SaaS. In 2008, the university moved their servers to the cloud. Berkeley thought that it was important for students to experience cloud computing because they foresaw it as the future in gathering information. By using cloud computing, the students were able to finish assignments quicker by having all the servers containing the information on one click. For example, a student may look for information on “cloud computing”. They would start their search with Google. Perhaps they want more information and would look on the Yahoo search engine, as well as Amazon. Instead of having to go from one search engine to another, all the search engines would be on one click with the data you needed.

For students and teachers both in Higher Education, the benefits are practical. Instead of having to use thumb devices to transfer data from one computer to another or copying information a disk to transfer to a new computer, it is all ready there at your fingertips. There is no need for special devices. It also gives the student and teacher large processing power.

Think about the exciting possibilities of interacting with other students, researchers and teachers on the internet to communicate with each other. As a student, you would be able to ask questions, test theories or clarify points that you do not understand. When writing a research paper, you would be able to collaborate with experts, with classmates and with your professor. Others could read your paper and give you feedback on your ideas.

The idea of cloud computing is fantastic. There are a few dark clouds that need to be cleared. Who controls the data? Other dark clouds are, individual privacy, security of data, reliability, liability for your writing and governmental interference using surveillance. They are universal concerns that need to be addressed before cloud computing becomes universal.