Guidelines from the School on the Cloud Project

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The Cloud In Education

Guidelines: about the Cloud in education

If they are to make informed decisions, managers and leaders in education need a clear understanding about the potential and issues about using the Cloud. This section provides a basic introduction to the Cloud and its characteristics for educational organisations.

What is the Cloud? - Types of Cloud - Cloud services - Find out more - Return to the guidelines



What is the Cloud?

Cloud Computing is the technology that provides the foundation for administrative and operational systems in education. It also offers excellent opportunities to improve the quality of learning and teaching of users.

Need to know more? See the YouTube video the Cloud in 90 seconds

Cloud Computing uses a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer inside the organisation. for more detail view the vides.

Cloud Computing Explained

Cloud Computing provides an ICT Infrastructure as a Service to the organisation (or IaaS: renting virtual machines), it can be a Platform as a Service (PaaS, on which software applications can run) or Software as a Service (SaaS: renting the a service such as email).

cloud compution diagram

Types of Cloud Applications

There are three types of Cloud applications:

Low-Cloud” applications are those functions such as personal email and calendars that have already migrated to cloud platforms. Education institutions have used email hosting services for staff and students.

The “Middle-Cloud” applications refer to elearning and related management systems and analytics that are running on Cloud platforms in almost all higher education institutions and many schools. The infrastructure for these applications is already in place.

High Cloud” applications are very large, complex, and essential administrative software functions that normally include finance, human resources and student information systems.

Smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers can all be used to access applications and data on the Cloud.

ipad and tablet

Cloud computing comes in three forms:

  1. Public Cloud,
  2. Private Cloud, and
  3. Hybrid Cloud.

Depending on the type of data you're working with, you'll want to compare public, private, and hybrid clouds in terms of the different levels of security and degree of management required by your organisation.

Public Cloud

A Public Cloud is basically the Internet. Providers use the internet to make resources, such as applications (also called Software-as-a-service) and data storage, available to the general public, or on a Public Cloud.

For users, this type of Cloud provides good economies of scale, they are inexpensive to set-up because the hardware, application and bandwidth costs are covered by the provider.

A pay-per-usage model is operated and the only costs incurred are based on the capacity that is used.

There are some limitations, so a Public Cloud may not be right for your organisation as there are limits to configuration, security, and the servicde level agreements. As a result it would not be recommended for sensitive data.

Private Cloud

A Private Cloud is procured as it based at a data center owned by an external company. This situation should provides you with flexibility, scalability, provisioning, automation and monitoring.

The goal of a Private Cloud is for you to gain the benefits of Cloud architecture without giving up the control of maintaining your own data center.

Private Cloud systems can be expensive. This is usually not an option except for large education organisations. Private clouds are driven by concerns around security and compliance, and keeping assets behind your firewall.

Hybrid Cloud

By using a Hybrid Cloud approach, you can maintain control of an internally managed Private Cloud information while relying on the Public Cloud when needed. For instance during very busy periods individual applications, or portions of applications can be migrated to the Public Cloud.

types of Cloud services

Cloud services

Cloud Computing is distributed computing, based on a service-oriented model. The service is designed as a solution to meet the needs and perspectives of the organisation. The model involves a comprehensive view of the analysis, design, and architecture of all the requirements in an organization. It encouraged software to be viewed as assets and refers to these assets collectively as 'services', which can be rapidly scaled up and down to meet the organisation's needs.

service model diagram

Access is provided to virtualized resources including computers, networks, storage, development platforms or applications. So, in education terms, the Cloud places the user (the learner, the teacher, the administrator, the manager) at the heart of the process, whether it be learning content, resources and materials, or tools and data.

apps and content graphic

In education, Cloud Computing provides e-learning and e-training services, for instance with videos, simulations, document storage and learning platforms. They may be available in a large-scale way, such as a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC and via institutional Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs).


Cloud computing provides both learners and educators with a great number and variety of online applications that can be made available to support a wide range of innovative learning scenarios. Cloud-based collaboration tools and data storage can be used to create exciting opportunities for education.

The applications available are usually web-based, accessible anywhere, anytime over the Internet, thus extending the potential for learning.

content on the cloud graphic

Students can use tablets and mobile phones to access, accumulate, share, and synchronize multimedia learning content from anywhere and at any time they may need to. The limiting factor is wifi / broadband network connectivity.

The Cloud enables mobile learning as it enables remote processing and storage awat from the devices. Therefore learning applications can run on students' mobile devices while the more intensive information and data processing tasks can take place in the Cloud.

cloud image

Find out more

Useful documents and White Papers for education and educators

A government fact sheet introducing the Cloud (pdf)

Breaking through the cloud adoption barriers (pdf)

Developing a Cloud-Computing Strategy for Higher Education, CISCO White Paper, 2012 Cloud Adoption: Barriers, Roadblocks and Belligerence (pdf)

Cloud Bursts Into Higher Education (pdf)

Cloud Computing Concerns in the Public Sector: How Government, Education, and Healthcare Organizations Are Assessing and Overcoming Barriers to Cloud Deployments (pdf)

Cloud Computing delivers education to millions, CISCO (pdf)

Cloud Computing in Education: Introducing Classroom Innovation, March 2014 Crucial Cloud Hosting,

Cloud Computing White Papers on feasibility

Cloud Computing: A Practical Framework for Managing Risk, Foley (pdf)

Cloud: cutting through the hype for SMEs

CloudWatch Hub for SMEs Documents and White Papers Increasing Acceptance of Cloud Computing in the Public Sector,

Ireland Digital Strategy for schools 2015-2020 (pdf)

ISACA Cloud Computing Guidance

ISACA Guiding Principles for Cloud Computing Adoption and Use

Moving to the Cloud: An Introduction to Cloud Computing in Government

NMC Horizon Reports

The Economics of the Cloud for the public sector (pdf)

The Education Cloud: Delivering Education as a Service

UNESCO Policy Brief 2010, Cloud Computing in Education, Uptake of Cloud in Europe (pdf)

A list of other resources on Pearltrees for Leadership Education and the Cloud

The IEEE hosts a Cloud Computing Web page and Community providing information and resources about Cloud Computing. It is led by the IEEE Computer Society with the purpose of promoting Cloud Computing and in disseminating education in the field of Cloud Computing. Find out more

IEEE web site image

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