What is Cloud Computing?


The cloud is the term for the myriad of servers and other computers, often located in enormous data centers, that power the Internet. New cloud applications harness the unused resources of these computers to distribute applications, storage, and even processing power to users in ways that are increasingly useful, low cost, and ubiquitous. Applications like Gmail use the cloud as their platform, in the way that programs on a desktop computer use that single computer as a platform. Cloud-based applications use storage space and computing resources from many available machines as needed. “The cloud” denotes any group of computers used in this way. Improved infrastructure has made the cloud robust and reliable; as usage grows, the cloud is fundamentally changing our notions of computing and communication.

Many emerging technologies are supported in some way by the cloud: collaborative environments and tools like Ning, PageFlakes, Voicethread, and Google Apps are cloud applications. A wide variety of online communication tools are supported by cloud resources and many, many personal web tools are cloud-based. Data storage is cheap in these environments — pennies per gigabyte — so cheap that it is often provided in surprising quantities for free. Specialized applications like Flickr and YouTube provide options for hosting and sharing media; tools for creating multimedia projects, like Prezi and Vuvox, live in the cloud; and most social platforms, including Facebook, do as well. To the end user, the cloud is invisible, and the technology that supports the applications does not matter — the fact that the applications are always available, no matter what device is used to access them, is key.


INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Cost Savings - tammy.stephens tammy.stephens Feb 4, 2010- jan.morrison jan.morrison Feb 6, 2010 - dan.phelan dan.phelan Feb 7, 2010
  • Device independence and interoperability - tammy.stephens tammy.stephens Feb 4, 2010- judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 9, 2010
  • Allows for emergency planning that aims to establish continuity in learning, eg. school closures - horncheah horncheah Feb 4, 2010
  • It lessens the need to be rooted in one place nor tied to one computing device. It makes computing more ubiquitous. it also means youth can take their work with them as they are mobile students. - bjoseph bjoseph Feb 5, 2010- jan.morrison jan.morrison Feb 6, 2010
  • Cloud computing is key to the moving toward the Information as a Utility concept where the organization does not need support complex and costly data centers, servers and applications. Leveraging Cloud computing can also help smooth large capital expenses as well as shorten the implementation delays associated with deploying the emerging information technology solutions. In the end the educational institutions available technology resources used in procuring, deploying and managing physical technology infrastructure (bascially considered overhead) can be reassigned and directed to technology projects focused on the vision, mission and goal of any learning organization, i.e. student achievement. - jeffrey.bajgot jeffrey.bajgot Feb 5, 2010- jan.morrison jan.morrison Feb 6, 2010
  • More accessibility (any school can now integrate technology more easily without having to have the know-how inside, students can access anywhere) and more collaboration (shared work is easier). - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Feb 6, 2010
  • Cloud computing may prove to be a feasible way for schools in the sense that it may enable access to resources with heavy in-school investments.- oystein.johannessen oystein.johannessen Feb 7, 2010
  • The promise of cloud computing is to make invisible, seamless, location- and pain-free a lot of currently expensive essential work before learning even begins. I would like to think that cloud computing empowers technology users, reduces costs, connects learners better, and reduces the often harmful influence of some 'techies' in school. - roger.blamire roger.blamire Feb 9, 2010
  • cloud computing is less about cost saving and more about multimodal interactivity across tools and points of collaboration. cloud computing underpins the social network spaces of students, and should also underpin the collaborative learning that excites and motivates them. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 9, 2010

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Cloud computing like devices such as NETbooks are now entering the market - tammy.stephens tammy.stephens Feb 4, 2010
  • It will be interesting to do a cost-benefit analysis of using cloud computing. It sounds attractive now, but not sure if it is really significant once the 'idling' capacity is taken up, ie. when all available processing power is being used nearly all the time - horncheah horncheah Feb 4, 2010
  • Information safety issues is a big concern for schools. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Feb 6, 2010- guus.wijngaards guus.wijngaards Feb 7, 2010...and pivacy issues... I agree and there is indeed a wide range of security aspects to be considered.- claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Feb 7, 2010
  • Creativity and social connections, through cloud-based services (images, music, video, cartoons etc) will also drive the adoption of cloud-based services. Helping the kids make, create, mashup is essential in learning, inspirational for both students and teachers, and a 'fun' way to move towards productive adoption of the power in the cloud. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 7, 2010
  • Interactive online spaces are available for students to experience a variety of interactive learning options. e.g. Inanimate Alice Fan Fiction . In other words, cloud-based computing includes more than just cloud-based applications. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 7, 2010
  • How to get the data if the service is outsourced or "cloudified" or the "cloud" vendor goes out of business or otherwise becomes uncooperative. - jeffrey.bajgot jeffrey.bajgot Feb 9, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Facilitates collaboration and collective and social intelligence- tammy.stephens tammy.stephens Feb 4, 2010
  • Can potentially support more bandwidth-intensive network access for teaching and learning, eg. use of 3D video online. - horncheah horncheah Feb 4, 2010
  • Will facilitate the online school, schools will have to rethink their roles in society and their pedagogical strategies. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Feb 6, 2010- jan.morrison jan.morrison Feb 6, 2010
  • Better supports creativity through personalisation of online multimodal products - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 7, 2010
  • Gets students out of school silos and into spaces that will allow them to develop their digital footprint, while at the same time be able to learn/adopt good digital citizenship. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Feb 7, 2010
  • May lower the threshold for schools to explore resources in different domains, made easily accessible through the concept of cloud computing.- oystein.johannessen oystein.johannessen Feb 7, 2010
  • When a school can subscribe and provide all of its learners to a comprehensive digital context aware adapting learning resource system supporting the individual learning objectives of the student when they need it. Or are we talking about the parent here? - jeffrey.bajgot jeffrey.bajgot Feb 9, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.