Cloud computing represents a model of information processing where the software and hardware resources used in this processing are presented to the customer as an online service. The cloud computing shows an aggressive share growth on the market of IT services and, as a result, becomes integral to almost all computerized activities of a human. Thus, this research paper analyzes the definition of this technology from a prism of education and evaluates the pros and cons of its usage in the educational process. In addition, the core improvement and future risks of cloud computing are indicated in the final part of the paper.
What is Cloud Computing?
The phrase “cloud computing” is currently wide enough not to confuse people about its meaning. In the simplest words, cloud computing means to store and access data via the Internet instead of your computer’s hard disk. The term “cloud” is just a metaphoric name for the Internet. However, generally, “cloud computing” is a complex infrastructure with many technical details hidden in the “cloud”. Cloud computing model gives convenient access to the network through a common pool of customizable computing resources (eg, networks, servers, storage, applications, services).”
Cloud model promotes the availability and is characterized by five major elements: on-demand self-service, broad network access, combined resource, location independence, fast flexibility, and measured services. The cloud also contains three service models: software, platform, and infrastructure as a service; and four deployment models: private clouds, group clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds.
A private cloud can be managed by the organization or a third party and may present on premise or off premise. The cloud infrastructure of the community cloud is divided into several organizations and provides its services to a unique partnership with a common mission, policy, etc. Public cloud is ruled and owned by the provider of the cloud computing services and is made for the public or a large industry group. The hybrid cloud is a mix of two or more different clouds.
While cloud-computing data is permanently stored on the virtual servers in the cloud, it is also temporarily cached on the client side to computers, laptops, netbooks, mobile devices, etc.
Nowadays, cloud computing is an integral part of our lives, especially while using the net. Everything from an ordinary e-mail box to the cloud data storage, like the Dropbox, can be defined as cloud computing. Every progressive person uses this technology even without noticing it. Moreover, cloud computing has a positive impact on business. Due to this technology, developers or start-up businesses do not have to invest huge capital in hardware to provide their customers with a new type of Internet services and hire human capital to operate it. There is no need to waste necessary resources on the projects that do not find the final consumer but instead focus the capital flows on the new products and services.
Relation to Education
In today’s world, educational institutions are heavily dependent on information technology without which they cannot function effectively. Purchase and maintenance of various computers and software constantly require significant financial investments and qualified professionals. Cloud computing can cause a departure from the accommodation and the provision of informational services in educational institutions. More often, these services are provided to students by teachers via the Internet. Educational institutions receive them for free or a small fee; in addition, these services are more affordable and reliable than their local equivalent.
This technology influenced greatly the architecture, services, and logistics of the inception of the new educational courses. The usage of modern cloud computing systems can be realized on different devices, while the core factor is an Internet connection. The cloud technology can be used for various purposes, even to make a context educational program that can be effectively used for assignment completion or as the initial basis for developing new educational systems.
The e-mail was one of the first cloud-based services that have been adopted by the European educational institutions. Preserving the email service is a simple task that definitely does not play a key role in the functioning of the educational institution. For example, Google Inc. and Microsoft provide e-mail service for the staff and students of educational institutions for free.
In addition to e-mail services, these corporations allow educational establishments to use cloud functions of the standard office suite to work with electronic documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Cloud services for educational institutions “Google Apps for Education” and “Microsoft Office 365 for education” allow the use of integrated systems for instant messaging, calendars of joint planning, and shared address books. Each user receives a cloud disk with enough space to store any information that has been obtained as a result of working with the cloud.
It may seem strange that these services are available to educational institutions free of charge, while for commercial organizations software prices have been traditionally high. This pricing policy is explained as follows. In today’s market of cloud computing, there is a high competition among software vendors, so they try to provide their services to educational institutions free of charge. The assumption goes to future graduates who after education will get a job thus being able to convince prospective employers to purchase a software product as they already know it. In addition, it will increase the loyalty of users to the products of a certain brand as well as its recognition and popularity.
The other example of cloud computing usage by education institutions is learning management systems or LMS. External providers support such services as Blackboard and Moodle; due to that, it makes sense for the educational institutions to integrate LMS in the case cannot afford to buy and support expensive equipment and software themselves.
Support for Education
It is worth saying that cloud computing, through providing their services, makes great support of educational processes while pushing towards further improv