Cloud Computing for Schools – The Way Up
At the 3rd International Workshop on Cloud Computing in Ontario, Canada, in 2009, Greg Olson argued: “If a restaurant was growing its own food, slaughtering its own animals, generating its own power, collecting rainwater, and processing its own sewage, we would all think they were idiots for not using ready-made services” (Litoiu & Iszlai, 2009). Each of the approx. 4,100 independent primary schools in Ireland is operating its own individual ICT system like Olson’s imaginary restaurant in an era when the advent of centralised cloud computing makes possible vast savings on hardware, software, licensing and maintenance along with optimised and equalised services and resources for schools.
How would cloud computing relate to and solve the problems of ICT in Irish schools? What are those problems, based on a thorough review of ICT history since the foundation of the NCTE in the early 1990s? What are the primary obstacles to the successful implementation of ICT in schools and how might these be overcome? Are there lessons to be learned from successful cloud implementations abroad and if so, can they be implemented here?
Is there already infrastructure that might be a basis for a private Schools’ Cloud? Is it feasible to argue that fast fibre broadband is the single outstanding infrastructure prerequisite for all future ICT in Irish schools? Is every pupil of the nation an equal digital citizen in school, or are there grand digital disparities between schools, and if so, how to equalize these for all?
My recent Master’s thesis endeavours to answer these questions and more based on a thorough review of Irish and European reports, studies and audits of ICT in Irish schools since 1990 up to President Obama’s superb 2010 blueprint, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology.
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Guest blog post by Shane O’Doherty
Bio: Following an English degree in Trinity College, Dublin, I studied a H.Dip. in Computer Science in UCD, later a H.Dip. in Philosophy in NUI Maynooth, followed by a recent Masters in Computing in DIT Kevin Street. I have worked in Stockholm and Dublin, mainly in the I.T. sectors, but also in social care areas.