IntroductionThe education and training sector has alwaysembraced new teaching methods and tools. Since the arrival of thecomputer and the internet in classrooms, administration departmentsand our daily lives, schools have been in a race to keep up with society’srequirements. Cloud computing brings with it a range of benefits with newhorizons for higher educational institution to enhance the educational process.Africa has also not been left behind with SouthAfrica, south western parts of Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya slowly embracing and successfullyimplementing cloud computing services in higher institutions of learning amidsta number of various challenges which we will address in this paper.This document presents the main principles and potentialsof the cloud that make it appealing to the world of education.
It also seeks tohighlight cloud benefits in the education sector and discuss limitations ofmain cloud services as well as highlight challenges that institutions face whenutilizing cloud technologies.ImplementationCloud computing denotes the practice of enabling convenient,on demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources.These resources could be networks, servers, storage applications and services. Thisensures that learning institutions focus strictly on research and learningrather than implementing complex IT infrastructure. Cloud architecture will be distinct according to thepurpose and infrastructure it is being designed for. Universities have to adhereto rules and regulations put in place since many countries are concerned andare strict about over border information transfer. Once a University meets allnecessary requirements they sign a Service Level agreement with the cloudservice provider.
The following are some of the ways cloud computing isimplemented in the education sector:· Learning Management Systems (LMSs)This is a scenario where cloud computing is used tohost learning management systems. Most institutions outsource due to theexorbitant costs in installation and maintenance of such a system. An exampleof these LMSs include Moodle and Blackboard· Email systemOne way cloud computing is implemented in educationis really basic, whereby an external provider extends an email system tostudents in an institution. The most common is Microsoft [email protected] which isbrowser-based and provides access to email and office packages. Google AppEducation (GAE) is its counterpart. Both of these softwares enhance onlinestudent collaboration.
· M-learning Cloudcomputing also acknowledges utilization of mobile devices as a way of enhancingonline collaboration due to the presence of a shared pool of knowledge andresources.· Resource libraryA teaching library that is implemented through cloudcomputing will be characterized by fast speed, stability, clear specificationsfor data storage, safety or security and a user friendly resource platform.· E-learningThere are two main entities that make up thee-learning platform; students who want access exams, courses and a way to relaytheir assignments online then there are trainers/instructors who would like tomanage courses and assess homework online with both parties being able tocommunicate with one another.· Distance educationCloud computing has introduced theemergence of online academies and open education platforms like MOOCs (MassiveOnline Open Courses). Students now have the opportunity to access coursesthrough distance education and earn their diploma online. It has also enabledstudents to enroll for specific courses that are not available at their localinstitutionsAdvantagesOutsourcing of technical skill: The software-as-an-Service (SaaS)model allows the client to outsource infrastructure requirements to externalservice providers.
. Currently, a number of cloud product projects are availableeither free or on an easy membership premise. A subscription to one of theseservices is all that is required.Environmentally friendly: Education cloud willsignificantly reduce the carbon impression by having paperless storage and backup and reducing heat produced by machines by sharing architectural resourcesthrough the cloud.Diminished Costs: Cloud-based administrations can help institutesdecrease costs because only the necessary computing and storage facilities thatare used are purchased. A reduction in cost has also been seen because it iseasy to upgrade to newer technologies since in most part it will not be theorganization purchasing.
It is also good to note that minimal training will berequired on personnel since fewer skilled people are required in cloud-based computingapplications. This makes it even cheaperEase of access: Literally anything computerized that is used intraining is effectively transferred. Sharing and collaboration: Cloudcomputing pools resources hence bringing multiple users together and they canwork together if they so wishDisdvantagesThe following are the disadvantages of the adoptionof cloud computing:Lack of internet : This is a great challenge sincesome institutions of learning have little or no access to the internet whereascloud computing requires internet for its real benefits such as storage andaccess everywhere to kick in. Adoption of cloud computing will require institutionsof learning to first incur the cost of internet installation.Security: Some institutions would still prefer tostore their information in their own repositories than to store sensitive datato a remote cloud where it is at risk of a denial of service threat.
The cloudproviders have to convince clients that they have a grip on privacy by meetingcertain guidelines and qualifications.Incompatibility: Some applications do not run on cloudhence cannot take advantage of the benefits that cloud computing has to offer.Limited portability: Since cloud computing is yet tobecome an established industry with regulations governing its transactions, itis easy for cloud service providers to have a vendor lock in. If an institutionis dependent on a cloud provider they have no choice but to stick with themeven despite poor service.BenefitsTo students:Students can perform remote lab tasks and practicaland be graded instantly, an example of this is in Cisco labs.
Cloud computing allows real time collaborationamong students and between students and their instructor. This would beparticularly advantageous to final year projects. Ebooks eliminate the need for students to beweighed down with textbooks or incur cost when content is upgraded. This willeven enhance content being taught in school to be more up to date.To facultyThe faculty can hold remote seminars and bringtogether part time lecturers full time lecturers so that even when a lectureris physically remote, they can still be accessed.The faculty can get feedback from students onlearning material, modules and practicals