June 3, 2014

Technology Adoption And Usage In Education

By Mojgan Afshari

Cloud computing is an emerging new computing paradigm which can provide computational resources for teaching and learning both cost-effectively and with the flexibility that education requires. Cloud computing provides virtualized resources (such as networks, servers, applications, data storage, and services) as a service over the Internet. Students, teachers and administrative staff can have on-demand access to these resources. Cloud computing offers a cost-effective way to access advanced learning applications and provides richer curricula to all school systems. The flexibility of choosing diverse software applications is a critical component of an educational cloud. Moreover, schools can share software applications legally and cost effectively using the cloud by purchasing a limited number of seat license and managing the concurrent use of the software. The cloud also allows students, regardless of geographical location, to interact and collaborate with their peers.

Many universities such as Medical College of Wisconsin Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center in Milwaukee use cloud computing as tools to provide the computing infrastructure for leading-edge research projects. In fact, cloud computing makes the analysis less expensive and more accessible. Moreover, a number of educational institutions such as Washington State University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) have adopted cloud computing for economic reasons. It would seem that cloud computing can be used as an useful tool not only to enhance quality of education but also to cope with the endless cycle of hardware and software upgrades at affordable costs in educational institutions.

Many educational institutions have recognized great potential of cloud computing in education. For example, Medical College of Wisconsin Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center in Milwaukee use cloud computing for research purposes. In fact, cloud computing makes the analysis less expensive and more accessible. Moreover, a number of educational institutions such as Washington State University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) have adopted cloud computing for economic reasons. It would seem that cloud computing can be used as an useful tool not only to enhance quality of education but also to cope with the endless cycle of hardware and software upgrades at affordable costs in educational institutions.

Despite the benefits that cloud computing offers, there are several challenges that can affect the decision of cloud computing adoption. One of the biggest hurdles is a lack of knowledge about the benefits of cloud computing. Slow connectivity, low bandwidth and lack of infrastructure have hindered the uptake of cloud computing. Many scholars consider security as the number one obstacle to cloud adoption. When educational institutions store the data on cloud servers, cloud Service Providers have the power to access customer data without them knowing. To ensure that cloud providers don’t have unnecessary access to data, encryption technology should be used to store and transmit the data.

The introduction of e-learning cloud computing will bring a lot of new problems for educational institutions. Hence, a series of comprehensive management rules for e-learning mode based on cloud such as teaching content management, course management, examination management, performance management, student management, teacher workload management should be established.  According to Afshari et al. (2013), Organizational culture is a critical factor in the success of any organizational innovation. Educational leaders should use strategies to develop a culture that values cloud-based e-learning system, establish policies and implementation plans for the adoption of cloud services by teachers and staff including in-service training and easy mechanisms for teachers to adopt, and propose technologies for instructional use.

By Mojgan Afsharid

Mojgan Afshari

Mojgan Afshari is a senior lecturer in the Department of Educational Management, Planning and Policy at the University of Malaya. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Applied Chemistry from Tehran, Iran. Then, she completed her Master’s degree in Educational Administration. After living in Malaysia for a few years, she pursued her PhD in Educational Administration with a focus on ICT use in education from the University Putra Malaysia. She currently teaches courses in managing change and creativity and statistics in education at the graduate level.
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