Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Scaffolding Environment for E-Learning through Cloud Computing

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Scaffolding Environment for E-Learning through Cloud Computing

Article excerpt

Introduction

In recent years e-learning has grown into a widely accepted way of learning, and the usage of the global network is inevitable in every education process. Ubiquitous learning integrates wireless, mobile and context awareness technologies in order to detect the situation of the learners and provide more seamless adaptive support beyond formal learning process (Shih, Chu, Hwang, & Kinshuk, 2011; Hwang, Chih-Hsiang, Tseng, & Huang, 2011, ElBakry & Mastorakis, 2009; Yang, 2006). In order to support modern pedagogical approaches, as well as a variety of heterogenic learning resources within courses, ubiquitous learning environments need to be based on a powerful IT infrastructure. At the same time, in order to be efficient, ubiquitous learning environments need to be based on learning management systems (hereinafter: LMS) and integrated into an existing e-learning environment of educational institutions.

LMSs are powerful integrated systems that support a number of activities performed by teachers and students during the e-learning process (Hauger & Kock, 2007; Kahiigi, Ekenberg, Hansson, Tusubira, & Danielson, 2007). In most cases, LMS users belong to heterogeneous groups with different, sometimes even adverse, individual characteristics and needs. The adaptation of e-education systems to an individual or to a group based on their characteristics, expectations, knowledge, and preferences is nowadays inevitable (Paramythis & Loidl-Reisinger, 2004). Since systems for adaptive e-learning are becoming more complex, educational institutions need new solutions for deploying scalable and reliable environments for adaptive e-learning (Aroyo, Dolog, Houben, Kravcik, Naeve, Nilsson, & Wild, 2006).

In this paper we set out to explore how an environment for adaptive e-learning can be provided through cloud computing. The main goal of the research is to provide a highly effective, scalable cloud computing services for endusers. The research context of this paper is focused on the e-learning processes within the E-Business Lab, the University of Belgrade.

Related work

Cloud computing (hereinafter: CC) is an abstract, scalable and controlled computer infrastructure that hosts applications for the end-users. CC is an area of computing that refers to providing customers with highly scalable IT capacities as a service via the Internet (Sultan, 2010). Services and data coexist in a shared and dynamically scaled set of resources (Srinivasa, Nageswara, & Kumari, 2009). Virtualization is one of prerequisites for the realization of CC (Dong, Zheng, Yang, Li, & Qiao, 2009). It allows for an efficient usage of resources, because several virtual machines (hereinafter: VM) can operate on one physical machine (Jin, Liao, Wu, Shao, & Luo, 2008). CC is an infrastructure that can bring a new value to an e-learning system, as educational services can be delivered in a reliable and efficient way. It also provides a suitable environment for ubiquitous learning activities. As a result, efforts to introduce CC in e-learning environment have been initiated over the last couple of years and are ongoing across the world. However, shifting from a traditional IT infrastructure to a cloud based infrastructure is a complex task for an educational institution (Reich, Hubner, & Kuijs, 2012).

The background for this research can be found in the works that explain the benefits of using CC infrastructure in e- learning (Dong, Zheng, Yang, Li, & Qiao, 2009; Zhang, 2010). In (Pocatilu, Alecu, & Vetrici, 2009) the authors explain the key benefits of the CC application in e-learning: improved improbability, virtualization, centralized data storage, costs. Doelitzscher et al. (2011) notice that universities' information systems have periods of intensive usage, when available hardware and software resources have to be efficiently used. Dong et al. (2009b) give a good theoretical and practical basis about using CC infrastructure in e-learning. …

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