Scholarly article on topic 'Teaching and Learning Cloud Computing'

Teaching and Learning Cloud Computing Academic research paper on "Earth and related environmental sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Earth and related environmental sciences, author of scientific article — Mohd Zamri Murah

Abstract Cloud computing is a technology that allow the users to access software applications, hardware, storage, computing processes directly from the web. It offers two paradigms in computing; SaaS and PaaS. This paper reviewed the experience of using cloud computing in teaching a graduate level networking course. It had been used to share references, to create collaborative environments, to hold virtual discussions, to manage projects and to deployweb applications. The students were able to learn this latest computing technology without incurring any cost. This technology hadenriched the learning processes of the students through collaborative learning, group projects and web-based software development.

Academic research paper on topic "Teaching and Learning Cloud Computing"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 59 (2012) 157 - 163

UKM Teaching and Learning Congress 2011

Teaching and learning cloud computing

Mohd Zamri Murah*

Faculty of Information Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia


Cloud computing is a technology that allow the users to access software applications, hardware, storage, computing processes directly from the web. It offers two paradigms in computing; SaaS and PaaS. This paper reviewed the experience of using cloud computing in teaching a graduate level networking course. It had been used to share references, to create collaborative environments, to hold virtual discussions, to manage projects and to deployweb applications. The students were able to learn this latest computing technology without incurring any cost. This technology hadenriched the learning processes of the students through collaborative learning, group projects and web-based software development.

©2011Publishedby ElsevierLtd.Selection and/orpeerreviewedunderresponsibilityoftheUKM Teachingand LearningCongress 2011

Keywords: Cloud computing; collaborative; teaching; learning; web applications

1. Introduction

Cloud computing technology is increasingly being used by enterprises and organizations. It basically involves a variety of independent technologies such as hardware virtualization, distributed processing, utility computing, network system, web services, platform as a service, and software as a service. This computing model is based on a service-oriented architecture (SOA) model. Its offers high flexibility, reduce cost of ownership, scalability and services on request (Baunet al., 2011). This model of computing is an evolution of the Internet-based technologies and computer networks (Vouk, 2008).

There are many definitions of cloud computing. Among them, cloud computing is a form of computing where the IT needs of a consumer can be bought from a cloud service provider. Another definition of cloud computing isa computing model based on a customer service needs. The term "cloud" often refers to a cloud-shaped diagram that is often used to represent the Internet or the web. In general, cloud computing is a computing model that is able to offer services on demand through a shared computing infrastructure, processing power, storage and networking. The cloudis flexible and able to accommodate a small scale applicationor alarge scale application.

Corresponding author.Tel.: +6-012-334-8441; fax: +603-8925-6732 E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer reviewed under responsibility of the UKM Teaching and Learning Congress 2011 doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.09.260

Users can freely purchase cloud computingresources based on his current needs. (Taylor, 2005; Stanoesvska-Slabevaet al.,2010).

The term "cloud computing" was first used in 1996 to describe a computing model where all desktop applications live on the cloud. Unfortunately, during that time, the technology to deploy cloud computing were not readily available. The cloud computing model was reintroduced in 2006. At first, the response to this technology is fairly accepted. However, acceptance to cloud computing technology changed when the Internet giants like,,, and IBM started using this computational model and further offer this facility to other web users. Since then, various services, software and storage has been implemented based on cloud computing (Van Ommerenet al., 2009).

In this paper we discuss some of the characteristics of cloud computing and how we use cloud computing in teaching and learning cloud computing is a new paradigm in computing. It offers an environment that is different from traditional client-server computing. It facilitates interaction and collaboration among all the users. It is scalable and flexible whereby features are quite difficult to implement in a traditional client-server model. It has minimal cost structure where a user can modify his services based on his needs.

In the second section, we discuss the characteristics of cloud computing. In the third section, we discuss how we use cloud computing in the teaching and learning. In the fourth section, we discuss the results from our experiences. Finally in the fifth section, we summarize our contributions.

2. Characteristics of cloud computing

Cloud computing has many advanced computing features that would benefit the users. Some of these features are;

• A user buys and uses the services by the cloud computing model via the Internet. Therefore, connectivity and network access is an integral part of using cloud computing.

• The services offered by the cloud include data processing, storage, software, technical components, or a complete platform. A user can choose the type of service he needs.

• The cloud service provider will provide and manage the cloud such as data centers, virtualization methods, hardware and storage. There is no maintenance on the user part.

• A user will be charged the cost of the services based on usage. This is similar to a utility service like electricity or water where a user only pays for what he used.

• A users can combine multiple services from multiple cloud service providers to create a combination of services to fill his requirements. A useris not restricted to only one cloud service provider

• The cloud service provider is responsible for the upgrading the cloud services from time to time.

We describe a few example of cloud computing usage. A user can write a document or draw a graphic collaboratively with other users via the Internet (e.g. A user can store all his data as a backup copy in the cloud using Amazon S3 (e.g. A user can combinesseveral cloud services such as a project management service and a financial management service to create a new web application and offer the web application as another service ( e.g.

While cloud computing offers many facilities, the users are still concern with data security and data confidentiality. There have been many efforts to increase data security in the cloud. One method to increase security is to split the data into several parts and distributed the data into several data centers. This will make it difficult for a hacker to get the whole data. Another method is to encrypt the data using a strong encryption scheme. To ensure data confidentiality, a data is saved as binary objects, thus a hacker cannot determine the data original format.

3. The implementations of cloud computing model in teaching and learning

In this section we discuss some scenarios how the cloudcanbe used in both teaching and learning processes.In the first scenario, suppose a lecturer needs to share a journal paper with fifty of his graduate students.Using

thismethod, a lecturer can e-mail this paper to his students. Another method is by using a client-server based Learning Management System such as SPIN. The lecturer will upload the paper to the SPIN website and the students will download the paper from SPIN.This process is inefficient because all users need to access the SPIN website to upload and to download the paper.

Figure 1. A client-server based model for sharing reference materials over the Internet using LCMS (Learning Content Management System such as SPIN).

Suppose a student is asked to share five journal papers with a lecturer and fifty other students. Based on a client-server computing model, the student can share the papers with the lecturer by uploading the papers to SPIN. However, the student needs to use e-mail to share the papers with other students. This is because SPIN uses the concept of one-way partnership where a lecturer can share materials with his students and vice-versa SPIN doesn't allow a student to share material with other students. In this scenario, SPIN doesn't have multi-directional feature that allow sharing among the students themselves. This sharing process is both time consuming and difficult.

With a cloud computing model, we can use a cloud-based storage service to solve the multi-directional sharing problem. Using this service, each user can easily share materials between themselves. This service

Figure1.Client-server based computing model only allow one direction sharing between a student and a lecturer. This model does not have a feature that allows sharing among students.

allows automatic synchronization between the users and does not require the users to login to any web sites. One of the cloud-based storage services is called Dropbox. Using Dropbox, a user can easily share journal papers, graphics and reference materials with other students and the lecturer. One important feature of this cloud-based storage service is automatic synchronization, which is done automatically whenever a user has access to these cloud. This scenario is shown in Figure 3.

This service encourages collaborationand interaction among all the users. With this service, users can share research papers, journal articles, software, graphics, and other information with ease among themselves. The users do longer need to use e-mails or secondary storages for sharing information. This service also eliminates the need to have external storage since the users can access the storage through the cloud.

The second scenario involves the development of a web-based application. Typically, a web-based application development requires adequate computing infrastructure such as storage, networking, software, database, operating system, and an application framework. Thisinfrastructure involves monetary investment and technical knowledge from the users. If the web-based application requires extra resources such as more storage or more computing power, the infrastructure needs to be upgraded.

These problems of cost and maintenance are solved using cloud computing model. The developers only need to develop the applications and then hosted the applications on the cloud. They will use the cloud computing services such as computer processing, storage, networking and application developments. Cloud computing alleviates the need for the developers to upgrade or to maintain their own computing infrastructure.

Table 1. The features of the two computing modelsz

Features Client-server model Cloud computing model

Sharing of information Upload and download Needs to access a web site Continuous automatic synchronization

Sharing direction One direction Multi directions

Lecturer-student Lecturer-student

Student-lecturer Student-student Student-lecturer

Type of information Limited All type of information

size limited Minimum of 2GB

Two important features of cloud computing are flexibility and scalability. Flexibility means the developers can choose any type of services from the cloud service providers based on their needs. If they need a database support for the applications, they can request the database service and so on. Scalability means the ability of cloud computing to cater to whatever number of users for the applications with no reduction in processing time or response time of the applications. If the applications need extra storage or processing power, the cloud infrastructure will adjust automatically.

Figure 3. A storage service in the cloud allows easy collaboration and synchronization between students and a lecturer.

Figure 4.Web application using cloud computing model.

One example of a web application on the cloud is at, a web site to transliterate Rumi into Jawi. The development of the application is done on a local computer, and then uploaded to the cloud. The developer does not need to set-up local computing infrastructure to offer this application to the Internet. Cloud computing allows the developer to focus solely on the development of the application, while the maintenance of the infrastructure is managed in the cloud.

The third scenario is about teaching and learning using video streaming technology. A lecturer can record his lectures on videos and put the videos on a web site. Normally, the videos can be watched online by other users using video streaming technology, similar to the technology used by This video streaming technology is difficult to set-up on a client server model, but can easily be set-up using cloud computing.

In the cloud, the user can use the video streaming service to facilitate the viewing of his videos. This video streaming service is embedded in some cloud infrastructure. Therefore, the user can easily embed this service in his web site. Since the cloud is scalable, the web site can cater to whatever number of users accessing the web site, from 10 to 100,000 users, without any problems.

4. Result

The use of cloud computing in teaching and learning has enabled us to promote collaborative learning among the students where the students can easily share references material, papers, journals, software and other items. This is done using cloud-based storage service. This method also encourages interaction with the lecturer, especially in writing and programming tasks. The written materials and the programming source codes may be written, edited, shared, commented and evaluated using cloud-based storage service. It is also facilitate the dissemination of multimedia materials that promotes multi-mode learning. The students can access the materials from anywhere using the embedded video streaming service. Last but not least, the latest technology and methodology in web application development can be deployed and cloud whereby the cloud is used as a platform for development.

Figure 5. A cloud computing make it easy to offer video streaming to users.

5. Conclusion

Cloud computing offers an alternative computing model to the traditional client-server computing model. It offers two new paradigm in computing: SaaS (Software as A Service) such data storage, computing power and PaaS (Platform As a Service) such as web development platform. This technology offers new innovative methods for teaching and learning. We have shown how the cloud can be used to facilitate collaboration using cloud storage service, to deploy web application using cloud infrastructure and to offer multi-mode teaching using video streaming.


We would like to thank UniversitiKebangsaan Malaysia for providing the research grant (UKM-PTS-2011 References

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