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e-Learning in the Cloud

e-Learning has gained extensive popularity in the past decade with abundant technologies to support it. For those with limited resources, distant learning or e-Learning can provide amazing solutions. With the help of virtualization technologies such as the Cloud, the concept of e-learning will reach a completely new level. The cloud can provide the perfect platform for teaching and learning in the virtual world.

A Combined Information Resource Platform

Cloud computing can provide a huge and widely accessible space for learners and teachers to interact and share information. A good example of an e-learning cloud would comprise of several different modules for each function. While providing an effective learning platform, the cloud will also group all informational resources from across different geographical locations. This combined resource platform will be accessible for the learner and the teacher from almost anywhere with an option to access it from a variety of smart devices.

Benefits of Softwares as Services for E-Learning

Softwares as services are a service provided by the cloud for its users. Using it for educational purposes has the following benefits:

  •   No need for constant updating, as with the licensed software
  •   A huge variety of softwares available to experiment with ; to test and select which suits best for specific requirements without having to incur large amount of capital expenses
  •  Large amounts of data can be stored and accessed easily

Five Modules for E-Learning

There are a number of ways for designing an e-learning computing model. A suggestion based on a popular best practice is designing one with five modules. The following are a good choice of modules for e-learning:

  •  Independent learning module
  • Collaborative learning module
  • Resource management module
  •  Frequently asked questions module
  •  Learning evaluation module

SaaS Derived Technologies for E-Learning

Software as a service, more popularly known as SaaS in the cloud world, is one of the most known services of cloud computing. It can be used as it is for the concept of e-learning or can be used to derive new technologies for the learning platform. Two services that have been derived from SaaS and used with quite a success rate are:

  • CaaS – Communication as a Service, where communication aids such as email services are used
  •  DaaS – Desktop as a Service, where a virtual environment is provided to each student with customization done on the basis of individual needs

The Cloud Education Architecture

The cloud can be used for educational purposes considering a variety of reasons. One of these reasons is that when new learning material is easily accessible, there is no need to assemble new resources for distribution of knowledge. The existing systems can be modified and used for new courses and benefits reaped with the least amount of efforts done and minimal costs incurred.

An ideal cloud architectural structure would include the following layers. These layers will be the basic of the structure. For individual client needs, these can be modified by the techs to cater to their specific requirements.

  • Physical Hardware – although the need for physical hardware with the introduction of cloud is minimum, basics such as servers and network equipments are still required.
  •  The Virtual Layer – this layer consists of all virtualization technologies such as the virtual servers and the virtual databases. This layer essentially vanishes the boundaries set by geographical locations and assembles all resources at one platform.The Education Layer – this is the core of the entire architecture. It can act as a virtual pool of all educational resources.
  •  Application Interface Layer – a single system cannot cater to all users’ needs. Therefore, this layer provides the model scalability through which necessary interface and hosting services are provided in case of any need.
  •  Management Layer – this layer monitors all aspects of the architecture, be it the physical hardware or any of the virtualization technologies.
  • Security System – takes care of the authentication, authorization, user access, audits, access control, login checks and anything that can compromise the security of the education cloud.

The cloud has provided many industries with tools and technologies to enhance productivity and efficiency. The educational sector can benefit from the cloud the same way too. There is no one model or architecture that can provide e-learning the desired benefits. An educational institute should experiment and create the one that best suits them to gain the numerous benefits of providing education in the cloud.

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    Sadaf Ajmal