Information technology in the field of education in the modern world is a necessary condition for the progressive development of society. Informatization and improvement of teaching technologies occupies one of the main places among the many new directions in the development of education. The relevance of the use of new information technologies in education is that they not only perform the functions of tools used to solve individual pedagogical tasks, but also provide qualitatively new learning opportunities, the formation of independent learning activities, stimulate the development of didactics and methods, and contribute to the creation of new forms training and education. With the development of computer tools and their introduction into the educational process, its participants have new opportunities, new approaches are being implemented.
The objectives of this study are:
1. The study of basic information about the “Cloud” technologies, about the varieties and applications of these technologies;
2. The use of “cloud” technology in education;
3. Consider the possibility of using cloud products from Microsoft for educational institutions.
Technologies based on cloud computing is one of the popular and actively developing areas of the modern information world. Cloud computing technology is an innovative technology that allows you to combine the IT resources of various hardware platforms into a single whole and provide the user with access to them through a local network or the global Internet. Cloud services from various providers offer users over the Internet access to their resources through free or shareware cloud applications, the hardware and software requirements of which do not imply that the user has high-performance and resource-consuming computers .
There are currently three basic models for building a cloud: software (software) as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Let us analyze these cloud models to identify the possibility of their use in the educational process.
Software as a Service (SaaS) – “Software as a Service”, a model for providing cloud services in which the user uses the provider’s applications running in the cloud infrastructure, which are accessible to the client using the web interface or the program interface.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a “platform as a service”, a model for providing cloud services in which a user gains access to using a software platform: operating systems (OS), DBMS, application software, software development and testing tools. In fact, the user receives a rental computer platform with an installed OS and specialized tools for developing, hosting and managing web applications.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – “infrastructure as a service”, a model for providing cloud services, in which the user gets the opportunity to manage processing and storage facilities, as well as other fundamental computing resources (virtual servers and network infrastructure) on which he can independently Install the OS and applications.
Currently, four cloud deployment models are used in practice:
Private cloud (English private cloud) – the infrastructure intended for use by one organization, including several divisions. A private cloud can be owned, managed and operated by both the organization itself and a third party.
Public cloud (English public cloud) – the infrastructure intended for free use by the general public. The public cloud may be owned, managed and operated by commercial, scientific and governmental organizations (or any combination thereof).
Hybrid cloud loads between clouds
Community cloud is a type of infrastructure intended for use by a specific community of consumers from organizations having common tasks and may be in the cooperative ownership, management and operation of one or more community organizations or a third party (or some combination thereof )
Many foreign educational institutions have switched to the use of cloud technologies. In the USA, the active use of cloud technologies is observed in universities. So at the University of Hofstra (Hofstra University) use the cloud services provided by Google Apps. European universities are not far behind, so in Lithuania, Kaunas University of Technology for the past five years has been using cloud services provided by Microsoft Live @ edu. Today, cloud technologies are only just beginning to be introduced into the educational sphere of the CIS countries, but now there are institutions that actively use these technologies. For example, Moscow University of Finance and Law has switched to using Office 365 technology. According to Microsoft Office 365, they also implemented a REU named after Plekhanov and RUDN.
After analyzing all cloud models and their experience in foreign countries and CIS countries, we came to the conclusion that educational institutions most often use the software as a service (SaaS) cloud model. The following factors can be considered an advantage of using this model: it does not require an educational institution to create its own data center and its maintenance, reduces financial and organizational costs, and also makes it possible to install its own applications on the provider’s platform.
The analysis made it possible to highlight the following advantages of using cloud technologies in the educational process (table).
Based on the services reviewed, we formulate the didactic capabilities of cloud technologies, confirming the feasibility of their use in the educational process:
• Organization of joint work for a large team of teachers and students;
• The ability for both students and teachers to share and edit documents of various types;
• Quick inclusion of the created products in the educational process due to the lack of territorial binding of the service user to the place of its provision;
• Organization of interactive classes and collective teaching;
• Students performing independent work, including collective projects, in the absence of restrictions on the “size of the audience” and “time for classes”;
Benefits of Using Cloud Technology
• Interaction and collaboration with peers, regardless of their location; • creation of web-oriented laboratories in specific subject areas (mechanisms for adding new resources, interactive access to modeling tools, information resources; user support, etc.);
• Organization of various forms of control;
• Moving to a cloud of used Learning Management Systems (LMS);
• New opportunities for researchers to organize access, develop and disseminate applied models.
Thus, the main didactic advantage of using cloud technologies in the educational process is the organization of joint work of students and teachers.
There are some disadvantages of cloud technologies, which are mainly technical and technological in nature and do not affect their didactic capabilities and advantages. Such disadvantages include the limitations of the feature’s functionality compared to local analogues, the lack of domestic cloud service providers (Amazon, Goggle, Saleforce, etc.), the lack of domestic and international standards, and the lack of a legislative framework for the use of cloud technologies.
However, today the methodological and technological aspects of the use of cloud technologies in the educational process are not well developed. In the educational process, including in the process of teaching computer science, the use of cloud technologies comes with a delay and has not yet found wide application. Despite a number of obvious advantages, a number of objective factors hinder their distribution. Traditionally, the majority of domestic educational institutions are distrustful of leasing virtual capacities, preferring to work with specific, preferably their own, equipment, data, and data that are stored locally.
The introduction of cloud technology in the learning process in higher and secondary schools will provide:
• Efficient use of classrooms (there is no need to allocate separate and specially equipped rooms for traditional computer classes);
• Dramatic reduction in the costs required to create and maintain computer classes;
• A qualitatively different level of obtaining modern knowledge – students get the opportunity to be in the learning process at any time and in any place where there is Internet;
• A more effective interactive learning process;
• The ability to quickly create, adapt and replicate educational services during the educational process;
• The opportunity for students to provide feedback with the teacher by evaluating and commenting on the educational services they offer;
• Guarantee of licensed cleanliness of the software used in the learning process;
• Reduction of licensed costs by creating functionally equivalent educational services based on open source;
• Minimization of the number of required licenses due to their centralized use;
• Centralized administration of software and information resources used in the educational process.
Currently, the most common service systems based on cloud computing technology used in the educational process are Microsoft Live @ edu and Google Apps Education Edition. They are web-based applications based on cloud technologies that provide students and teachers of educational institutions with tools whose use is designed to increase the efficiency of communication and collaboration .
Another use of cloud services is to move Learning Management Systems to the cloud. Transferring support for such systems to external providers makes sense for educational institutions that cannot afford the purchase and support of expensive hardware and software.
If we look at cloud technologies from Microsoft for educational institutions, then this is Microsoft Office 365, combining a set of web services, which is distributed on the basis of a subscription according to the “software + services” scheme. The set provides access to various programs and services based on the Microsoft Office platform, email, functionality for communication and document management. Microsoft Office 365 for educational institutions allows you to use all the features of “cloud” services, increases the efficiency of students and employees, as well as save time and money. The basic functionality of Microsoft Office 365, including the cloud version of Lync Online with the ability to organize video conferencing, SharePoint Online, Office Web Apps and Exchange Online, will be provided for free. Office 365 Education combines the power of familiar Office desktop applications with the online version of Microsoft’s next-generation communications and collaboration services. Office 365 is very easy to use and administer, has a robust security system and level of reliability.
Windows Azure is another cloud service offered by Microsoft, which can be used in the educational process. Windows Azure is a cloud-based counterpart to Windows Server. However, if you buy and install Windows Server on servers in your local data center, then the Windows Azure platform is located in Microsoft data centers and is available remotely as a platform for developing and running applications. Using the Windows Azure in education platform, teachers are given the opportunity to include in their educational process one of the most innovative and rapidly developing technologies, both in theoretical and in its practical part.
There are three main areas of use of the Azure platform to solve the problems of universities:
• Use of Windows Azure to calculate the practical tasks that arise during the training;
• Use of Windows Azure cloud technologies in theses and term papers;
• Make voluminous and complex calculations that require large computational resources;
• Use of virtual machines based on Linux or Windows in the cloud
2. Research work
• Processing large amounts of data for research;
• The ability to transfer your own server cluster to the cloud;
• Modeling of scientific experiments;
• Use of innovative technologies for research.
3. Information and training portals
• Joint work on educational projects;
• Personal account of a student / employee / teacher;
• Distance learning;
• Create new or expand existing applications
• Conduct training events and webinars.
The set of services provided by the educational “cloud” to a specific user forms his personal informational and educational environment. Access to this environment is ubiquitous (figure).
The set of services provided by the educational “cloud”
Cloud technology is a new way of organizing the educational process and offers an alternative to the traditional methods of organizing the educational process, creates the opportunity for personal training, collective teaching, and interactive classes. The main advantage of using cloud technologies in education is not only a reduction in the cost of acquiring the necessary software, efficiency and an improvement in the quality of the educational process, but it will also prepare pupils and students for life in the modern information society.