Implementing Cloud-based e-learning

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Although I terminated my academic career years ago, I confess I always preserve a very special attention and enthusiasm in academic researches and initiatives. Usually, the best way to achieve this is to take part personally in University seminars and workshops and sponsor the introduction of such events in all levels of public education. We all hear nowadays the problem of few females who register to Computer Science or generally, less people like to code.

However, I think women do have a more intuitive approach when leveraging the power of developing a product or providing a new service.

One of the themes I’d like to explore in this post is e-Learning. Often my acquaintances (and me) make use of LinkedIn e-learning, CodeAcademy and Coursera (and many other good examples) platforms to deepen competencies and learn new about various areas.

E-learning is an Internet-based learning process, using Internet technology to design, implement, select, manage, support and extend learning, which does not replace traditional education methods (physical classrooms with the presence of teachers), but greatly improves the efficiency of education.

As e-learning has a lot of advantages like flexibility, diversity, measurement, opening and so on, it is becoming a primary way for learning in this century.

In traditional web-based learning mode, system construction and maintenance are located inside the educational institutions or enterprises, which led to a lot of problems, such as significant investment needed but without capital gains for them, which leads to a lack of development potential. I still remember, in my birth country (Albania), I had to go in my ex-professor own studio in order to learn administration of a Windows ’95 OS!

In contrast, Cloud-based e-learning model introduces scale efficiency mechanism, as construction of e-learning system is entrusted to Cloud Computing suppliers, which can make providers and users to achieve a win-win situation.

The Cloud-based environment supports the creation of new generation of e-learning systems, able to run on a wide range of hardware devices, while storing data inside the Cloud.

The e-learning cannot completely replace teachers; it is only an updating for technology, concepts and tools, giving new content, concepts and methods for education, so the roles of teachers cannot really be replaced.

The teachers will still play leading roles and participate in developing and making use of e-learning Cloud. The blended learning strategy should improve the educational act.

Moreover, the interactive content and virtual collaboration guarantee a high retention factor.

On the other hand, e-learning Cloud is an implementation of Cloud Computing technology in the field of e-learning, which is a future e-learning infrastructure, including all the necessary hardware and software computing resources engaging in e-learning. After these computing resources are virtualized, they can be afforded in the form of services for educational institutions, students and businesses to rent computing resources.

MOOCs current value proposition

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course) are online courses where lectures are typically involved, quizzes and testing are automated, and student participation is voluntary.

They attain large scale by reducing instructor contact with individual students; students often rely on self-organized study and discussion groups. An alternative model allows students to vote on which questions should rise to the professor’s attention.

Initial MOOCs have often been from disciplines that lend themselves to quantitative assessment, such as engineering, computer science, and math.

However, MOOC-s are becoming applicable to all fields as the platforms enable assessment methods such as peer review (experts of the same area process the scholarly work). An example from Coursera: I had to give a judgement for the uploaded assignment of another user (or I should say a student!) and another student had to process mine. There is neither central coordinator nor subject processor.

MOOCs generate massive quantities of data about learner behavior, which can be used to understand cognitive growth and how to improve instruction.

And that is the reason why Big Data is being engaged to analyze and take traces of these information. Analytics can also be implemented to optimize User Experience and platform interface.

Educational access.

MOOCs provide access to education on a massive, international scale. Currently, most students who enroll in MOOCs are internationals and/or professionals rather than enrolled college students. This balance may shift as educational institutions develop models for integrating MOOCs into students’ educational pathways. MOOCs provide instruction, but they also highlight the institution by featuring renowned professors. MOOCs can be used as primary or supplementary course material for instructors who wish to weave them into their curricula.

Experimentation.

MOOCs represent an experiment in education that attracts talented instructors, technologists, and entrepreneurs. Many institutions are experimenting with MOOCs to inform instruction for large undergraduate courses.

Commercial MOOCs partners host sophisticated application platforms that mine click-stream data, which can refine adaptive systems and tutoring algorithms that enhance learning effectiveness.

Brand extension.

MOOCs can extend the institution’s reach and reputation internationally (you could enroll to a MOOC delivered in another continent!). Particularly among elite research institutions, MOOCs have become a way of enhancing the institution’s brand and signaling innovation. Successful professors can gain a global following, building their own reputation, as well as the institution’s and creating new opportunities for collaboration.

Some platforms may evolve from course-delivery systems toward adaptive learning platforms; systems that personalize the experience based on the learner’s performance.

MOOCs embody a convergence of technology and culture that is creating new energy around e-learning. Happy about that!

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