Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Cloud Computing: An IT or Educational decision?

As many institutions move towards the adoption of cloud based computing, one sees a great deal about the need to manage various types of risk. For example, in a recent article from Educause they identified a number of institutional risks:
  • 'Operational risk — service or business failures
  • Financial risk — surprise support or integration costs
  • Compliance risk — failure leads to liability costs and reputation damage'
 From the perspective of the individual user, staff and students they noted that for the 'User view' one needed to consider:
  • 'Reliability, privacy, security — similar to operational risk
  • Utility — functionality
  • Simplicity — which requires interoperability'.
Now I have quoted directly from the article because it highlights what seems to be a gap in the thinking/ planning process. Educational issues seemed to be lumped under utility which is loosely considered to be issues of collaboration and communication (email to alumni for example). It is only much later in the process that educational issues start to get addressed more seriously. For example, how the various cloud services integrate with the manner in which staff and students use the various technological tools for teaching, learning and engagement. Many of the articles I have been looking at seem to take a very technological approach and while that is important, surely the ultimate users (staff and students) need to be a part of the process very early on. I would be interested in hearing from anyone that has already been down this path and is willing to share their experiences, from an educational perspective.

In closing this post, we have all seen the discussions about what is wrong with the iPad, no USB, the need to sync with another computer, and no really familiar file storage system (e.g., see HERE). However, cloud computing and iPads seem to be a near perfect match, the cloud being where all of the collaborative services are available for sharing, communication, file storage, and interaction. Now all we need are really fast wireless services freely available on campus and in the city - as we have here in Hong Kong.

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