Low costs, high accessibility and improved education performance through Cloud-based tools and Technologies
To what extend do Cloud-based tools and Technologies in education ensure lower costs, higher accessibility, improved performance and sustainable impact on educational stakeholders and teachers?
Technology has been for a long time at the heart of several efforts to discern the future of education. This paper explores the pedagogical developments that the next 10 years might bring and the implications of such developments for the major stakeholders (learners, teachers and administrators) within the School on the Cloud: connecting education to the Cloud for the digital citizenship network (SoC) initiative-funded by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Programme.
In addition, it presents the rational, the application and the results of three foresight exercises which together with the trends and changes in the society, the technologies, the education and the innovations led to the development of four scenarios on how the European education could develop by 2025, using cloud computing.
The study elaborates on a foresight methodological framework in accomplishing the SoC foresight efforts and an elaborate description of the three methods chosen for the network’s foresight exercises, their application as well as their results. More specifically, the Brainstorming approach; the Six Thinking Hats technique; and the Delphi method presenting the constructed scenarios which were aimed at discussing different possible futures of education and they take the form of short stories of possible futures, imagining how the education could look after 2025. In addition, these scenarios, based on trends and challenges reported in the literature and expressed by experts’ opinions, will determine our education system and thus their future expectations should be taken into consideration for the new school on the cloud.
The SoC network is composed of 57 Partners which represent 18 European countries including 10 schools, 21 universities, companies, NGOs, national authorities, research centers, associations and adult education providers
Cloud computing, the focus of this paper, is a major technological breakthrough with a huge potential for education. Through Cloud computing, high specification, state-of-the-art software technologies can be accessed at any time, any place (Cheng, Huang, & Lin, 2012). Thus, cloud computing provides powerful software and massive computing resources where and when needed, allowing learners to interact productively with their teachers and with each other in both formal and informal education situations, and to become creators and developers of knowledge. Given its huge affordances, cloud computing has become a very popular and powerful educational trend (Joshi, 2015). Cloud computing has been increasingly and widely used in the field of education (Shi et al., 2014). It is projected that this trend will continue, with cloud technologies playing an even more vital and powerful role in the educational field in years to come.
This paper presents the findings of the foresight exercises conducted by the SoC citizenship network https://www.schoolonthecloud.net/. The main goal of SoC is to connect education to Cloud computing and to explore how education should respond to new ICT developments in the form of cloud computing that are rapidly transforming the world of education. That is, to narrow the existing divide between education and Cloud computing by developing guidelines for the education sector, by encouraging collaboration and knowledge exchange as well as examining future enhancements of this technology on education.
Objectives, Thesis Statement
There seems to be many definitions of cloud computing around. The global management consulting firm of McKinsey found that there are 22 possible separate definitions of cloud computing, none of them dealing with educational concerns. In fact, no common standard or definition for cloud computing seems to exist (Fadil, 2015). However, despite the many definitions and the various terms suggested by many computer experts and Cloud users, the concept of Cloud Computing can be described as an ICT technology that can be fully represented as a three dimensional space consisting of the characteristics axis, that includes: On demand service, Network access, Resource pooling, Rapid elasticity and Measured service; the type of service axis, that includes: Infrastructure, Platform and Software; and the form of deployment axis, that includes: Private, Community, Public and Hybrid. (NIST, U.S Department of Commerce, 2013; Koutsopoulos & Kotsanis, 2014) Creating in this way a framework whose axes are an integral part in designing an educational system which can meet pedagogical needs of the future (koutsopoulos 2015b).
The basic principle that “Technology changes, Education survives” signifies the role of education as a societal necessity now and in the future and the need to explore their potential implications to education. It has shown that ICT changes, in the form of cloud-based technologies (Pallis, 2010; Koutsopoulos, 2015b), provide the power to fundamentally change how education should be approached and practiced, creating the need for a new school, the School on the Cloud.
However, the new School on the Cloud in order to achieve such goals has to address the following two key questions: “How should education respond to cloud-based technologies? What is the impact, now and in the future, on education stakeholders and teachers?”. Results from the limited application of the School on the Cloud educational approach has shown that it brings many benefits to education as well as accelerates trends and developments at the interface of cloud computing and education (Armbrust et. al., 2010; Donert and Bonanou, 2015; Malmierca et al., 2015), which in turn increase the ability of stakeholders to adjust or alter their educational objectives. Basically, these applications of cloud technologies in the classroom, indicate that in answering the two questions in essence their work reaffirm the need for the changes mentioned previously as well as create the foundations in applying them. That is, the School on the Cloud is not anymore a novice application of Cloud computing to education, which promises to deliver many exciting things. It is already a reality and there are many successful implementations (Johnson, 2012; Bradshaw et al., 2012; Malmierca, 2015; Donert and Bonanou, 2014). That is, the School on the Cloud is a new and different school that has been born, is partly operating now and is going to stay with us at least in the foreseeable future.
Theoretical/conceptual framework [Literature Review]
Literature (IBM 2013; Gaytos, 2012; Sultan, 2010) shows that there is a range of resources and services available to education via Cloud Computing, whether they concern infrastructure, services, solutions or the introduction of new processes. That is, Cloud Computing will become the fundamental instrument in a cloud based educational environment by bringing many benefits to education of which the following are considered the most commonly referred and important( from koutsopoulos, 2015b).
The cloud will result in general and in education in particular in a cost effective use of ITC resources. One of the main benefits of Cloud-based teaching and learning is that it will prevent individual investments in equipment, programs etc. The reason is that the centralized infrastructures of cloud computing promote flexibility in various ways (Flexibility in implementing teaching content; Flexibility of learning) giving easy access to courses and content at any time, any place (IBM, 2013). Cloud Computing by promoting a dynamic exchange and participation between teachers, pupils and students, their social network and parents, leads first into finding the appropriate to the stage of education information and tools. It provides the means in every institution to avoid the duplication of resources that exist elsewhere and allow students and teachers to access in real time useful and free information from anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. In education, this holds a special importance for it provides teachers and students a paramount tool in the learning process that of constantly updating their stock of information.
The benefits of innovations applied to the education system as recourses (i.e. centralized and optimized, sharing, on demand, ability to evolve, etc.) will provide the system with the ability to revise the way in which education institutions, students and teachers are able to use equipment, applications and subjects’ content. The most interesting techniques, based on Cloud Computing and technologies, are the following (IBM, 2013):
- Creating Intelligent Classrooms with a quality and effectiveness of teaching that can be considered intelligent;
- Creating Virtual Classrooms: ICT can help bring down the walls of the classroom and give rise to the virtual classroom;
- Creating Virtual Labs;
- Creating Virtual Contents;
- Creating eTwinning for teachers and students.
In recent years, with the rapid development of emerging technologies, the integration of Information and Communication Technology has increasingly attracted the attention of education stakeholders, in the form of teaching and learning tools. That is, educators are turning their attention to various technological tools that can be used as learning objectives or contexts, to develop new learning environments, to modify existing resources, to engage with specific groups of learners or decide alternative strategies for teaching and learning. Some of these tools are: Virtual Reality (VR); Teaching and Learning Tools.
Moreover, it is suggested that the education because of the use of cloud computing in the immediate future will be affected by the impact of several influential trends as follows:
- Learning objectives need to change to take into account future competence needs;
- Students will learn how to safely and responsibly use technologies in school as well as in their lives;
- Development of future skills for problem solving, collaboration, negotiation, innovation and self-management.
The literature indicates that the future of teaching and learning will be towards new skills. As a result some people will need to update their skills and some others to re-skill. That is, the future school will need to foster skills that are “generic, transversal and cross-cutting” (Redecker et al., 2011), in order for learners to actively and engage in lifelong learning. The use of cloud computing in the classroom will have in the immediate future an impact on the fundamental elements of classroom education (the subjects taught and the learning methods in attaining them), as well the changing role of several influential factors: students became co-designers of Learning; learning will be tailored to the needs of individuals or personalized learning; learning will be towards Open, Flexible and Networked Relationships; online Learning, Mobile Learning, Distance Learning and Non- Formal Learning will Continue to Gain Acceptance.
Another trend in teaching is the use of technology in applying innovative systematic and regular assessments in order to monitor and track the activities and educational progress of each student.
Moreover, teachers need to change to become part of the changing process: That is, teachers have to create a daily working environment that encourages innovation and new learning approaches. Various short term teachers’ training approaches have always been part of modern education. All the trends mentioned previously can become a reality only when teachers are trained to exploit the available resources and tools to support the new tailor-made learning pathways and experiences, which are motivating, engaging, efficient, relevant and challenging.
Finally, the administration of any institution has to adapt and reflect the new ways of teaching and learning. Educational changes are constantly bringing new conditions that need to be imposed and become operational. This challenge concerns the education leaders who in the future need to have a holistic view of the education process by taking into account aspects such as skills, attitudes, regulations, IT resources, time resources, links between schools, parents and community as well as social support.
Policy makers are also facing an important challenge, for they have to change the way policy making has been practiced up to now. More specifically, policies should be developed by taking into account the viewpoints of all education stakeholders, including especially the education practitioners.
In sum, because the world of education will follow and be influenced by those trends and changes, it will bring changes and developments in the way education is revised or innovated and is presented next.
The methodological framework of SoC futures-oriented work is directed on one hand towards exploring the implications of potential future developments for educators, learners and administrators and on the other towards cloud computing as an educational technology field. Therefore, the basic question methodologically needs to be answered is: “What might be the implications of cloud computing on future changes in education, and what does this mean for teaching and learning over the coming 15 years?”
- Brainstorming is a method, used in groups in order to support creative problem-solving, the generation of new ideas and greater acceptance of proposed solutions.
- Six Thinking Hats method is used to go through decisions from different perspectives, enabling participants to move outside their habitual intellectual pattern and thus provide them with a more rounded view of the topic under consideration.
- Delphi Method sometimes called and Delphi survey, is a relative straightforward process aiming at collecting and distilling knowledge from a group of experts through the use of a series of questionnaires.
Brainstorming is a widely applied method, used in groups in order to support creative problem-solving, the generation of new ideas and greater acceptance of proposed solutions. The application of the method followed the next steps:
- The participants were divided into three groups, in relation to the major education stakeholders (learner, teacher, manager);
- Encourage “out of box” thinking;
- The participants of each group were asked to develop a joint statement describing the stakeholder under consideration.
Afterwards all the ideas produced by the groups were ranked according to the participants priorities and the results they became the input to the Delphi technique.
The results of the discussions of the participants that took place in Porto Portugal and It should be noted that the results of the brainstorming discussions of the personas, they have provided a better understanding of the issue of cloud based education, which helped constructively the main SoC foresight effort, the Delphi method.
Six Thinking Hats is the proven technique from Edward De Bono, the creative thinking guru. The Six Thinking Hats use parallel thinking as an alternative to (and not a replacement for) traditional ways of thinking. There are six different coloured hats that can be put on or taken off to indicate a mode or strand of thinking.
The workshop on the Six Thinking Hats was applied to the three different SoC Working Groups (i Learner, i Teacher, i Manager), the process through the Six Thinking Hats has started where there was only one main question to be analysed and related to the interest of the WGs, namely: “What is the role of manager/teacher/learner working in the cloud in education?”.
This technique was applied as part of the SoC Foresight exercises (all the rights are protected by the Copyright and reserved to the Edward de Bono Foundation), to complement the Delphi method in probing educational scenarios related to the cloud based education.
In the application of the Six Thinking Hats technique, the groups had the chance to develop new ideas and think about future scenarios of cloud based education. So the trainer clarified to the groups that being creative does not mean to be an artist but being able to create new ideas!
The main conclusion of cloud computing and cloud based education was that: there are not follower of the process, but follower of the changing process that allows people to have access to different information and to manage this information at different levels and for different objectives and results.
The application of the Delphi method for the needs of SoC followed the steps:
- Definition of the Procedure:
- Determine the time horizon of the study (it was decided to be 2025);
- Logistics (choices from the place of the meeting to the number of the groups of experts);
- Designing the questionnaire and the factors to be included;
- Determining the feedback process between rounds;
- Formulation of the Statement;
- Formulation of the Questions;
- Selection of the Panel of Experts;
- Administration of the Questionnaire: verbal and written instruction were given to those in charge of the foresight groups. In addition it was decided the process to have the following steps:
- First round of questionnaire answering;
- First round analysis;
- Revision of questionnaire questions;
- Second round of questionnaire answering;
- Second round analysis;
- Stop when stable consensus are achieved;
- Analysis of Responses: the SoC foresight method, due to the nature of the subject studied, was qualitative in nature, and therefore a qualitative assessment was necessary;
- Presentation of the Results: Given that the goals and objectives of SoC are basically qualitative, the presentation of the foresight results naturally were qualitative;
- Output: The output of a Delphi exercise has the form of a report accompanied with tables.
Utilizing the Delphi approach has enabled us to use the advantages of group opinion, while at the same time overcoming obstacles appearing in group work. Moreover, the process followed in Delphi gave participants more time to think through their ideas, leading to a better quality of responses than those provided in an interview or discussion.
It should be reiterated that SoC scenarios are aimed at discussing different possible futures of education or formulating the set of key uncertain developments that may drive the future of education using cloud computing in 2025. The scenarios, which were carried out by the SoC network, they take the form of short stories of possible futures, imagining how the education could look after 2025, in order to challenge assumptions and stimulate thinking about current and future practices. That is, the constructed scenario were aimed to identify uncertain developments in the future and include them as elements of the scenario narrative (Vander Duin and Huijboom, 2008).
The formulation of the scenarios followed the well-known and traditional foresight application. Namely, their design has started with an examination of future needs and opportunities under various educational conditions based on the an extensive bibliographical work (koutsopoulos, 2015b) as well as the suggestions of SoC’s participating experts. This extensive examination and analysis resulted in a set of questionnaires used in foresight exercise, which in turn led to scenarios that were formulated as appropriate narrations (storytelling) of future educational classroom conditions, learners activities and tools as well as school operation in response to the use of cloud computing.
That is, the SoC methodology consisted of two parts: the foresight exercise and the scenario development. In terms of the foresight effort it was rested basically on the application of the Delphi method (the other two methods: the six thinking hat and the brainstorming were complimentary to Delphi and were used in the scenario formulation). It was based on a number of questionnaires whose questions were related to factors considered appropriate to the three major education stakeholders. The SoC foresight was applied in the following 5-step approach.
The first step was based on the main findings of the review of the state-of-the-art of research in teaching and learning and in ICT, in the form of cloud computing. This review was then complemented by an analysis of the main policy orientations on cloud computing for education in Europe identifying relevant trends and normative policy visions. The second step was focused on formulating the set of key uncertain developments that may drive the future of education, To accomplish that an analysis of the main trends(societal, technological, educational and innovations) was conducted. The third step was based on the previous steps. That is, in order to face the increasing number of challenges in education in Europe, expert knowledge is required which was solicited in the form of a questionnaire addressed to such experts. The fourth step, probably the most fundamental to the success of the foresight was the administration, in two phases, of the questionnaires to the SoC participants at the foresight workshop. The fifth step that concluded the foresight effort was the qualitative analysis of the participants responses an assessment necessary in deriving conclusions for the scenario formulation.
The scenario design adopted as part of the SoC’s foresight exercise was: first, evidence-based, as it builds on the trends emerging from a literature review; second, expertise-based, as it included the views of experts which by definition are the participants gathered in Palermo Italy in the Expert Workshop; third, interactive, as it incorporates inputs in person at the workshop; and fourth creative, as it is based on the ‘creative-thinking’ that came out from the brainstorming activities and the application of the six thinking hats following Popper’s suggestions (2008).
Data Collection and Analysis
SoC scenarios are aimed at discussing different possible futures of education or formulating the set of key uncertain developments that may drive the future of education using cloud computing in 2025. The scenarios, which were carried out by the SoC network, they take the form of short stories of possible futures, imagining how the education could look after 2025, in order to challenge assumptions and stimulate thinking about current and future practices. That is, the constructed scenario were aimed to identify uncertain developments in the future and include them as elements of the scenario narrative (Vander Duin and Huijboom, 2008).
Within this framework, the main relevant question underpinning this paper is: “Taking into account the fact that possible future scenarios may be radically different from present conditions, what cloud computing tools will be needed for future teaching and learning?”
The departure point of these scenarios was the basic issues and the key dimensions of expected changes that happen in a specific direction (i.e. a possible state of learning the future), which were taken into consideration to create a specific “story” representing the future. It is considered that these stories/scenarios provide information that better describe possible real-life situations in which specific users (i.e. i learner, i teacher and i manager) could find themselves in the future.
That is, in order to make the description of the scenario context natural, easily understood, and comprehensive, a specific “story” for each scenario was developed. That story illustrates the reference context that could develop in the future if a number of key trends and expected changes happen in a specific direction (i.e. a possible state of the future, thus providing information that better describes possible real-life situations in which learners, teachers, administrators could find themselves. In addition, they provide a “day-in-the-life” of the major education stakeholders in the possible future situations envisaged, which in turn can be used to serve the purpose of stimulating education policy debates.
It should be reiterated that the scenario design was developed as part of the SoC network aims to provide a structured framework for analysis of current and future challenges related to the impact of cloud computing in education. However, instead of attempting to forecast several future cloud computer-enabled scenarios, it was chosen to define three internally consistent – but radical– views of what the future European major educational stakeholders might look like in 2025, and what the implications would be to them and education in general.
As for the process followed in building the scenarios, the approach followed was to mash-up data and information available from two sources in an intelligent, efficient and effective way. More specifically, the uncertainties and opportunities underlying the scenarios design were: first the trends and changes in Society, in Technology, in Education as well as the capabilities and benefits of Cloud Computing, thus creating a descriptive vision of the future; and second the major findings of the foresight exercises which included the results of the Delphi method with input from the Six Thinking Hats technique and the brainstorming approach which in turn created an experts’ vision of the future.
The intend of the constructed scenarios, their formulation and interpretation was to expose the gaps that exist today in our knowledge of teaching and learning and what needs to be addressed in order to enable better education as well as construct a more innovative and to the public interest, digital European education of tomorrow. Given that scenarios are systematic visions of future possibilities deriving from foresight exercises, which produced plausible possibilities, they can be used as tools to explore the future impact of educational decisions or developments. To achieve such aims the SoC, scenarios building was aimed to identify uncertain developments in the future and therefore include them as elements of the scenario narrative.
In addition, an effort was settled for scenario design aiming at exploring possible alternative futures in education in order to elaborate the possible impacts that future mainstreaming cloud computing tools may have on policy making. That is, the scenarios’ design by relying on foresight methods, which call upon a wide range of themes and stakeholder perspectives, examined the social and economic aspects of future cloud based education developments. As a result, clues and key impact dimensions were utilized in order to emphasize the increasing ability of cloud computing tools to facilitate possible development paths for education and help decision makers take advantage of future opportunities.
Using the Brainstorming technique the Participants were ask to respond to the following question: “What do you believe will be the main changes to school education due to Cloud Computing?”.
The participants stated their opinion in terms of the role of Cloud Computing as it relates to their learning needs, objectives and strategies in order to enhance the activities they are good at and improve those that they face difficulties with.
In the application of the Six Thinking Hats technique, the groups had the chance to develop new ideas and think about future scenarios of cloud based education. So the trainer clarified to the groups that being creative does not mean to be an artist but being able to create new ideas.
Based on the previously discussed application the following series of future scenarios by the participants of all the groups and related to the Cloud based education were developed:
- Empower people with confidence/interaction/solving problems;
- Give teams self-management and leadership;
- Connect people and create flexibility;
- Create new role model, shift (changing) paradigms;
- Meet the needs of other users (in terms of data / information literacy);
- Adapt technology to education aims;
- It should be the short term investment of money to buy up property or upgrade computers and books;
- Connectivity/changes (out of stereotypes);
- Not schools – education;
- Give opportunity for teachers to stand out as creators;
- Educate people to work with the Cloud;
- Have an EU policy approach;
- Focus on the de-industrialisation of education;
- Need intelligent leadership – intelligent management based on information brought to leaders and managers by the Cloud;
- Evolutionary thinking will be adopted – adaptation to the Cloud;
- Have to co-create vision (i.e. involve all stakeholders) ;
- Need to have clear indicators of success – what data is required and how presented?;
- Need data literacy skills for managers and leaders;
- Must create an information platform – sharing data with others so that (good) decisions can be made;
- Helping people make use of the information will be vital;
- Breaking the barrier between real-life and school life;
- Flexible and co-created leadership;
- Collaborated school organisation – connected also to the external (real) world;
- Build community of leaders;
- Imply leaders as learners;
- A single platform for managers/leaders – with all data needs supplied;
- Leaders/managers given the freedom to express themselves;
- Important is getting rid of “classes” – need a good mix of approaches;
- Differentiation, inclusion/exclusion, flexibility.
Finally, utilizing the Delphi approach has enabled participants to use the advantages of group opinion, while at the same time overcoming obstacles appearing in group work. Moreover, the process followed in Delphi gave participants more time to think through their ideas, leading to a better quality of responses than those provided in an interview or discussion.
Despite its many benefits, Delphi also has a number of key limitations that have adversely affected the quality of the study findings. Delphi is a time-consuming and thus expensive technique, characterized by complexity of data analysis. Despite our best efforts, there might have been some facilitator bias and/or manipulation in how we conducted the data analysis.
It should be reiterated that SoC scenarios are aimed at discussing different possible futures of education or formulating the set of key uncertain developments that may drive the future of education using cloud computing in 2025. The scenarios, which were carried out by the SoC network, they take the form of short stories of possible futures, imagining how the education could look after 2025, in order to challenge assumptions and stimulate thinking about current and future practices. That is, the constructed scenario were aimed to identify uncertain developments in the future and include them as elements of the scenario narrative (Vander Duin and Huijboom, 2008). Within this framework, the main relevant question underpinning this report is: taking into account the fact that possible future scenarios may be radically different from present conditions, what cloud computing tools will be needed for future teaching and learning?
Scenario1: The story of Luc the Future School Learner
- Luc enters his school, which has no walls, follows the EU and the ministry priorities, but adjusted to the local conditions. He looks if there is anything new in the intercultural area, greets his friends who are doing a small game in the playground section and checks his mobile device because his school is equipped with fast internet .
Scenario2: Yiannis the Future School Teacher
- Yiannis enters the open teaching area, one of the many the school has(there are no typical classrooms and the arrangements of the learning environment are totally different than it is today), which is equipped with ubiquitous internet access, easy-to-use digital devices as well as access to various forms of learning resources for the students to work with. As a result, Yiannis is focused on his pedagogical role which is to organize and motivate his students’ learning by mixing methods and strategies as needed.
Scenario 3: Jen the Future School Manager
Jen arrives in his school where he is the superintend. The school he manages does not have classes with neat rows of chairs and desks and the students do not have to focus intently on the teacher delivering a lecture or explaining concepts on the blackboard. Actually, among the rules he instigated in his school is that there must be flexible seating arrangements so that they are appropriate for the task that students are working on, and that the focus must be on the comfort of the students.
In conclusion, this paper, by presenting the results of the SoC foresight exercises, documents, suggests that the future school will offer a teaching and learning environment characterized by the following:
- Personalized: personalization will put a stump on the future of education;
- Holistic: The educational processes of the future that this paper has presented will be characterized by openness, sharing, interpersonal relationships, discourse, personal motivation, tacit over explicit knowledge, as well as the sharing and reusability of learning resources on the web;
- Integrated: In the new school the most important impact that the power of cloud computing may have is in the integration of the teaching process which will increase the openness of the teaching environment (koutsopoulos and kotsanis 2014);
- Technological: The literature (Gusic et. al.,2015; koutsopoulos 2015b) clearly shows that technology is creating opportunities and challenges for our schools;
- Knoweledge-Centered:Cloud based education can provide to teaching and learning a descriptive approach towards both on individual learners and on learning itself, which satisfy the future complex and challenging conditions;
- United but not uniform: Cloud Computing, which is the fundamental instrument in a cloud based education, can fulfill all the future requirements for the coming new School on the Cloud, because it represents a fundamental change in the way computing power is generated and distributed (European Commission, 2009);
- Active: In the cloud based education of the future schools teaching and learning due to the opportunities provided, inevitably will become more active, focusing on education by doing, experiencing and hands on approaches;
- Revised Cloud computing in addition to more active and constructive ways of learning will revise teaching and learning by shifting the balance between knowledge and skills, which will lead to the emergence of new competences; Facilitative: Cloud computing naturally will bring changes to teaching and learning objectives and the ways to accomplish them;
- Collaborative: An important evolution that will take place in the new school is that students will be taking the initiative and develop their own projects which in turn will lead to collaboration among students in the classroom;
- STEM focused: Given that innovation represents the driving force for developing the economy, a need exist which will increase in the future, to produce professionals with a good knowledge and background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics);
- Multimodal: The way we communicate has been changing in the last few years and this trend will continue and intensify in the future as accessibility and mobility of technology will be increasing.
From the previous analysis and presentations it should be clear that cloud computing represents a fundamental change in the way computing power is generated and distributed, transforming the delivery and the use of ICT tools and products. A number of educational institutions in the EU already use some kind of cloud services, but full adoption of the cloud model is still far away, hindered by a wide range of bottlenecks and barriers (Koutsopoulos 2015b). That is, although cloud computing is undoubtedly shaping, changing and enabling new ways of accessing, understanding and creating knowledge (Koutsopoulos & Sotiriou, 2015c), and is already an integral part of modern life, precise predictions about its future uses in education are impossible due to the high degree of uncertainty involved in technology forecasting. Still, foresight methods can be employed to provide some insights regarding the probable importance and implications of various factors, trends, and events related to the emerging technology under study.
Foresight studies such as the ones of the SoC network, which are related to the future of education, have two main objectives: (i) map how learning processes are expected to change in the future, based on expert knowledge and the literature of current and future trends; and (ii) develop a vision for the future of education, in the form of scenarios or education strategies, in order to explore their potential implications and to ensure that future teaching and learning contribute in fulfilling societal needs and plans.
However, it would be nice to believe that given a desirable scenario, a specific action can be defined and happen, because this is not in accordance with what foresight stands for. It is almost certain that the future will occur in ways that will not match exactly with any of the three SoC scenarios. It is expected that the future will have elements from each of the four scenarios and the purpose for all of us and mainly the decision makers is to increase the likelihood to impose as many as possible of these elements. Therefore, what is of interest in terms of meeting the challenges and planning issues for education is to consider all scenarios and to highlight and discuss critically some important dimensions of expected changes, which in turn will identify the main policy challenges and future research directions.
Moreover, in interpreting the results of the scenarios, it must be acknowledged that the participants were not a representative sample of all European stakeholders, as they belong to the specific group of SoC network. However, this effort does not aim to gather empirical evidence of stakeholder’ opinions on cloud computing in Europe, but seeks expert advice for developing visions of the school of the future. According to the steering committee of SoC the bias of the sample is considered a strength rather than a limitation. Indeed the participants in the SoC foresight exercises proved to be extremely knowledgeable, reflective and critical of current developments in educational policy and practice. These observations confirm that the participants contributed rightly were considered as experts in their corresponding interest related to the future of school education in Europe.
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- To develop a network of 57 European partners from a range of different education sectors to promote Cloud initiatives in the public and private sectors
- To explore how education should respond to new ICT developments that are rapidly transforming the world of business, work and society
- To bring the educational opportunities offered by these powerful technologies to as broad an audience as possible
- To undertake a research about tailor-made learning and the Cloud and publish the “state of art”
- To produce guidance resources for teachers and educators
- To establish four work groups addressing the issues of management (transition), iTeacher (innovative teacher), tailor-made learning and Cloud-based digital features
This report documents the state of the art concerning the Cloud in education in partner countries across Europe. It describes policy perspectives, agencies and organisations promoting the Cloud in education, initiatives, projects and developments in different countries, it offers a list of relevant events and activities taking place in Europe, as well as key publications related to the project’s scope
- Presentations on the impact of Cloud-based platforms, application and tools
- Online catalogue of platforms, tools and apps for teachers, trainers and educators
- State of the art research of tailor-made learning and the Cloud
- Review of cloud-based futures and methodologies
- Coordinator: Doukas School (Greece)
- Innovative Learning Network Ltd. (United Kingdom)
- EURO (Belgium)
- GO (Belgium)
Follow the project IN ACTION
Date of project: 01/01/2014 – 31/12/2016
DG of reference: DG EAC, Education and Training, Lifelong Learning Programme, Information and communication technologies – ICT (KA 3)
This report documents the state of the art concerning the Cloud in education in partner countries across Europe. It describes policy perspectives, agencies and organisations promoting the Cloud in education, initiatives, projects and developments in different countries, it offers a list of relevant events and activities taking place in Europe, as well as key publications related to the project’s scope. The report indicates that the Cloud is developing rapidly in business but in many countries education has not recognised the advantages offered.