June 2014

Cloud-ed Education High-tech Answer to New-age Challenges

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Shirley

Prof (Dr) Elizabeth Sherly,
Director, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K)

Cloud-based learning solutions are fast catching up among both students and teachers as these education tools have the potential to revolutionize the education sector in ways more than one, writes Prof (Dr) Elizabeth Sherly, Director, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K)

Leveraging cutting edge technologies to gear up the learning process in higher education has been attempted at during the last several years, but often it has been a struggle to get the maximum benefit out of it. A suite of technology enhanced learning solutions such as web based e-learning platforms, virtual classrooms, collaboration tools, online resources, digital library access, videos on demand, syllabus based content creation and smart classrooms are being experimented with since 2000, but those lack a coherent system to cater to the various needs of educationalists and learners. The data created are still in silos and there is no common platform to share the content in an effective manner. So, a better collaboration among teachers, students, administrators and parents is needed to make education more exciting and also to use data as learning analytics to predict the future of a student.

Dating with Data

No matter whether the nature of educational data is structured, semi-structured or unstructured, all types of data in large volumes can be handled in a coherent manner using the concept of Big Data Analysis

The Transformer

Cloud technology can help bring many digital learning techniquesand administrative data on to one platform with better speed, avoiding duplication, cutting cost and expanding accessibility

Cloud-based learning solutions are fast catching up among both students and teachers as these education tools have the potential to revolutionize the education sector in ways more than one, writes Prof (Dr) Elizabeth Sherly, Director, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K) Cloud-ed Education High-tech Answer to New-age Challenges everaging cutting edge technologies to gear up the learning process in higher education has been attempted at during the last several years, but often it has been a struggle to get the maximum benefit out of it. A suite of technology enhanced learning solutions such as web based e-learning platforms, virtual classrooms, collaboration tools, online resources, digital library access, videos on demand, syllabus based content creation and smart classrooms are being experimented with since 2000, but those lack a coherent system to cater to the various needs of educationalists and learners. The data created are still in silos and there is no common platform to share the content in an effective manner. So, a better collaboration among teachers, students, administrators and parents is needed to make education more exciting and also to use data as learning analytics to predict the future of a student. Cloud-based learning solutions play a crucial role that can be utilized to revolutionize the education sector in many ways. The cloud can be considered as the most sought-after technology to achieve many digital learning techniques and administrative data into one platform with better speed, avoiding duplication, cutting cost and expanding accessibility. The future opportunities for success or failure of students could rest in the cloud.
Some of the major challenges in web-based education system is creating content, standards and quality of content creations, availability of various resources such as software and hardware, dearth of skilled and qualified teachers to create content and assist students, dynamic scalability to conduct exams and supporting evaluation to a large mass, effective use of resources, storage and manageability of videos, multimedia content and maintainability of portals and servers, etc. The power of cloud computing could bring in a new wave and meet the growing demands due to its dynamic elasticity, scalability, flexibility and availability.

Shirley-interview
Universities or educational regulatory bodies need to take the initiative in establishing cloud-based learning system at their data centre, so that the entire data is managed by a higher authority and that can be distributed or shared as per demand. The data created or available by various colleges and universities has to be managed and controlled in the data centre, which is connected to a large number of distributed computers. An architecture of cloud-based e-learning platform consists of Infrastructure layer, Platform layer and Software/ Application layer. Infrastructure layer acts as dynamic and scalable physical host pool with information resources for learning and teaching, and its supporting software and hardware. Resource layer offers a portal for e-learning developers – a platform for software and hardware resources to share. Application layer provides content production, content delivery, virtual laboratory, collaborative learning, and assessment and management features, including Learning Analytics tools. A cloud middleware between the Infrastructure and Resource layers provides virtualization through which dynamic and scalable host pool can be given shape, and new physical host can be added in order to enhance physical computing power for cloud middleware services, such as Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service.

LAS

The main advantage of such a cloud based e-learning system is availability of data under one umbrella, which could be used for learning analytics, so that the future of each college, university, teacher and student can be predicted. No matter whether the nature of educational data is structured, semi-structured or unstructured, all types of data in large volumes can be handled in a coherent manner using the concept of Big Data Analysis. The pool of data will be a goldmine for education researchers to analyse and predict using Learning Analytics System (LAS). LAS is a technique to improve the academic outcome by serving as a predictive and prescriptive system for each stakeholder.
Aiming high in higher education requires wealth of diversity in learning process where the role of technology is nowadays indispensible. The cloud can be a powerful vehicle for aligning your institutional mission by driving administrative and academic transformation.
A cloud-based e-learning platform transforms the entire world of knowledge made available to teachers and students that can be accessed anytime, anywhere and from any device. This would enable students across the globe to acquire the 21st-century skills and training they need to compete and succeed in the global information society. Further, such an education platform has the power to transform education through personalized learning, improve teacher development and performance, enhance access to information and more efficiently manage the processes that facilitate teaching, learning, and research to be more productive.

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