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Article: Cloud Computing in Institutions by “cetisli”

‘The term “Cloud Computing” refers to any computing capability that is delivered as a service over the Internet. While there is no authoritatively accredited definition of the concept, one of the most frequently used definitions is the one given by Gartner, who describe cloud computing as “a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ across the Internet to multiple external customers.”’ — Cloud Computing in Institutions

I know this sounds like technobabble but the basics are simple…

1. software comes to you over the internet/server, instead of being downloaded onto your computer.
2. your files are stored over the internet/server, instead of on your computer.
3. this frees up your computer to just needing to run the browser, and email – this allows you to go without a hard drive, like some of the new netbooks, so you can have it cheaper and lighter than ever.

If you are an old computer geek , this might sound a little familiar.

Back in the bad old days before PCs landed on every desk, the world of business (and engineering, and the geek world in general,) used what were called ‘Dumb Terminals‘ linked up to a massive ‘server‘ that, essentially, did all the work and stored all the files.

Do you remember Tron? The big baddy was the Master Control Program (article on MCP & friends). That’s the mainframe server. The original Cloud.

Now – if you use Gmail and Google Docs (for example) you are using Cloud Apps. The software exists only online, you access it online, and your emails and docs are saved on huge banks of servers taken care of by Google staff (in this case).

This blog is also in The Cloud. I don’t have a copy of it anywhere. WordPress give me access to the software I need to make it look pretty, and they host it. I don’t have a copy on a computer, but I can access it from any computer, with a login.

This is working in a fluid way. You are not tied to one computer. You can be anywhere, but you are right there, accessible.

Questions:
– what does this mean for books? think about the Project Gutenburg, if a text of the book is available online and a student can’t just accidently leave it at home if the class is reading the e-text.
– what does this mean for project documents? think about Google Docs, groups of students can work collaboratively on projects from the library, from home, on a weekend after a sporting event.
– could teachers use the Cloud to discuss students that might need more attention? Take a look at Google Wave and think about its use for teaching staff.

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