If Cloud computing is the greatest thing for business since sliced bread, then by extension, it certainly ought to be the greatest thing to get education since chalk. In point of fact, a relatively large proportion of our university could be said to be effectively “in the Cloud,” since most documents we process do not exist except in electronic form, almost all of our interactions with students and a large portion of our faculty are electronically mediated, and there is relatively little in the way of physical objects to define us as a university. Of course, the major difference between our operation and how Cloud computing proponents see the model lies in the fact that we manage our own information technology rather than relying on someone else to provide it for us. But there is no denying that in terms of educational options, there is much to the Cloud model that would appeal to university faculty and administrators.
Some institutions have made a full-scale commitment to the cloud in terms of educational opportunities, confiding a large portion of their students’ interactions to offsite group-based tools and technologies. These often allow a wide variety of things to happen in class situations that our more primitive technologies won’t accommodate. One of the more interesting kinds of cloud-based tools used by educators is the cooperative work application known as a wiki. Wikis are essentially cloud-based authoring tools, in which all participants have an opportunity to edit the work in progress (while having their contributions tracked for accountability purposes) and work can proceed asynchronously. The best-known version of this communications tool is of course the well-known Wikipedia; you can read about its own version of its own model here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki. It is a very interesting and widely applied tool, and clearly has implications for educational activities. You can probably find a variety of materials relating to the applications of wikis in education if you do some simple Google searching.
Some schools have made wikis a central point in their educational model. For example, Bentley University near Boston, a school specializing in business education and high-technology, claims to teach many of their courses “through the lens of Web 2.0” An excellent example of how Columbia University uses wikis is available at http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/our_services/tools/columbia_wikispaces/wikispaces_examples.html. Please select any course on the site and explore it further. As you review their video, try to think about what the students there might be getting out of their classes that isn’t currently available to our students; also consider any possible downsides to the wiki-based model that should be evaluated as well.
In this Ted Talk Sugata Mitra discusses how to use the cloud to build a collaborative school in a self organized learning environment.
When you have reviewed the Bentley U. and Columbia University materials and the Ted Talk, please summarize your assessment of the applicability of wikis as a cloud-based tool and the use of the Cloud for self organized learning environments for our educational system in a short (2- to 3-page) paper. Please try to address the following issues somewhere in your presentation:
· Your understanding of how a wiki works and the kinds of things that can be used for
· Your assessment of the wiki model as a representation of the cloud computing approach
· Your specific comments regarding the video from Columbia University and how they use their wiki
· A summary of the thoughts you have regarding the applicability of the cloud computing model to the work of Trident and our students
The following items will be assessed in particular:
· The degree to which you have carried out the assignment completely, or clarified why you could not and investigated alternatives
· Your ability to describe your experiences clearly and draw conclusions from them, not just narrate events
· Your ability to focus on the overall purposes of the assignment, not just its specific steps
· Your use of some in-text references to what you have read; please cite all sources properly.