In this blog post I shall narrate an experiential story of the innovative uses and applications of the cloud computing principles and resources in an engineering college. Since 2010, I have been using cloud computing in learning ,teaching and encourage students carry out cloud-based projects. Many of my students have become successful cloud professionals. Some of my students cloud-based projects have transformed into entrepreneurial ventures. Ever since I created my account on Hotmail in 1999, my professional mission has been “ An Indian teacher preparing students for Cloud Computing World”. This blog post is organized as follows. In section I, I articulate the power, potential and promise of cloud computing as I see it. In Section 2, I explain what I understand by the term innovation and how cloud is a resources for innovative applications. Section 3, I pull together a list that illustrates how I have been using cloud for innovatively within the scope of my teaching and student project context. In Section 4, I try to map my work in progress with the CCICI ‘s “A Cloud Computing Adoption and Innovation in India: An approach to a Road-map establish where my works stands and outline possible steps ahead.
Power, Potential and Promise of Cloud Computing
Today Cloud computing is the largest charitable institution in the world. Most of its resources are free. To be sure, these free resources come with quotas and stripped features. None the less, they are plentiful and meet all practical needs of a layperson. For instance, I created my Gmail account in 2004 and it has given me 15 GB of free space, even after more than decade of using it, I am still left with 13% storage space. I opened my blogger account a couple of years ago and have so far created more than 120 blogs and still I am not stopped by blogger while I create a new blog. I have been a user of LinkedIn for quite long and still use its basic features. Still they are capable of meeting most of professional network needs. Cloud is not only free but Plentiful too.
Innovation is Situational and has to be local
Cloud Computing is a source of veritable resources information, data, tools and applications and their innumerable combinations. Each combination represents a new value proposition and in practice becomes a new resource or tool for the end-user. Not all possible permutations and combinations of cloud resources are yet discovered and this issource of promising innovation possibilities. Like in an organic chemistry compound a small change of element either by adding or removing in a chemical bond can produce an altogether a new material with new set of properties and hence uses so in cloud computing a new combination of resources may produce a new value creation stream.
Innovation is all about combining seemingly disparate elements into functional whole. With myriad of free resources, cloud computing becomes the hub of emerging innovation ecosystem. Making its resources accessible from anywhere and to anyone who has the Internet connection, cloud computing liberates the process of innovation which was earlier restricted into research labs and privileged few who worked there to any willing person in the crowd. Cloud computing knows no geographical borders and honors all time zones and is at user’s beck and call and meeting all her demands like proverbial genie of Aladdin’s Magic Lamp.
It is helpful to treat cloud computing as a new language. Like in any language vocabulary and grammar is given to person all that he has to do is to use them to compose new artifacts a conversation, story, a novel or even an epic. Language does not belong to him nor he owns or control it all that he does is to use the resources and rules of language to meet his purpose. Authors or layperson does not get busy in inventing a new word or change grammar. Instead he uses languages for his purposes. Innovation in language takes form of an expression or composition. So is with Cloud computing. The task for most us with cloud computing for most of time is not as much as to add a new service but harness the existing one to meet our immediate needs. Expression in cloud means using cloud innovatively in our daily work and context. Composition means developing new services, applications and utilities.
My Experiments with Cloud Innovation
Cloud Innovations in the Classroom
“ Learning in connection with routine activities may be more important than R&D.” (Lundvall 1992)
Cloud enables 24/7 classroom. Learning, Teaching and associated discussions need not be restricted to class hours or have to occur within the walls of the classroom. The course resources – syllabus, presentations need not to be available only in the college. A student can access lessons from anywhere, anytime and also get in touch classmates and teacher all the time. Using blogger and Google Docs, I have put my entire cloud computing course on the Cloud. Students can access resources even from their home while on vacation. course homepage http://cloudcomputingcourse.blogspot.in
India is known for diversity . In the class room this diversity appears in the form of students who have studied in different media of instruction. We have students in class who had their schooling done in vernacular languages. This poses a serious challenge in a professional courses like engineering. But cloud is always there for rescue. We have added translation widget to our course home page. We instruct students to use this to get content translated into language of their choice and try to understand. We use this for the opposite way also. We ask students to submit their assignments in their own language and we get it translated to English using the same tools. In fact, we had one our students to develop an application for this and you can view the same herehttp://multilangblogger.appspot.com
It is clear that our students will be living in connected world. To be successful they need skills that are different from the ones we have been teaching. They need to be self-learners and collaborative, poses communication skills – both writing and oral. Cloud provides resources to teach students all these skills. I designed and deployed a course – Industrial Oriented Programming Practices. The course illustrated the features of cloud connected world and demonstrated students on what they mean to their future career and how to use them. Using features provided by Google Docs- collaboration, sharing documents, creating blogs and more students were trained. You may see ambition of the course and also proof is the pudding
Cloud Innovations in Student Projects
Innovative Cloud based Student Projects ( one minute video introduction on 8 projects)
Engineering is all practical and implementation is the real measure of success. Realising this cardinal principle we have made it clear to our students their cloud computing learning is not complete without an implementation.
Google App Engine (often referred to as GAE or simply App Engine, and also used by the acronym GAE/J) is a cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications in Google-managed data centers. It was released as beta in 2009. Immediately one of group of students decided to implement a project called “ Cloud Based Teaching System” . It used resources such as Gmail, Google Groups, blogs are means to connect teachers and students and allowed for asynchronous mode of teaching and learning. Since it was built on Google infrastructure – it has all the elements of what later become to known as “ MOOC”. It was hosted on http://sdmcetcon1.appspot.com ( recently Google has depreciated it)
A student Project becomes an enterprise
Cloud resources can encourage students to experiment and test their ideas and if successful convert them into an entrepreneurial venture. During 2010, one of our student group did a project that eventually led into a cloud-based enterprise. Pixuate is a cloud-based image management platform that supports the entire image life cycle, i.e. capture-store-process and more. You get a robust platform with API’s for developers, sporting core features that include image comparison, face detection, custom object detection combined with storage. Pixuate brings the power of image processing to your fingertips, offering a complete image management platform. Now Store, Process, Scale YOUR images in one place. Pixuate gives you the freedom to use your favorite platform.Use Pixuate API’s to build cross-platform applications.
Often time is very precious for us. We need answers to our questions very fast. But when go to Google it is very generous. For every search you make, it provides millions of results, Often you don’t need all of them and what you is need is some precise set of options to choose from. This student project LearnMate does exactly that. Using Google Search API it provides user with 5 top answers filtered from Google search output. It saves a lot of time and avoids cognitive load. It is very handy when you need quick answers. What is more it allows user to choose type of document PDF, DOC, PPT and more. See the project in actionhere
Cloud Innovations for Teaching Community
Be the change I want to see in others
Before preaching people to move on to cloud and they start using, I need to develop confidence in them. Towards this I have been practicing the following
Cloud is on-demand and location independent
I conduct cloud computing workshops for students and faculty of engineering colleges. In the past I have conducted more than 300+ such workshops. I never carry my laptops nor pen-drives. I just connect the machine provided by college and start accessing myworkshop resources. This very act makes audience to believe in me and cloud computing. All other features of cloud are demonstrated in similar manners as illustrated below
Cloud is multi-tenant
Cloud computing software are multi-tenant. In this paradigm, a single instance of application running on a server is capable of serving multiple clients. Contrast this with traditional application which need to be installed on each and every machine before it can used. I demonstrate this for students by making them to access class presentation as follows Each student now realizes that multi-tenant is working reality and is in action while they are viewing my class presentation.
Cloud computing resources are scalable. When I conduct workshop, I illustrate this principle with a live activity. Below you see more than 400 students accessing my workshop presentation, Now they know what is scalability.
Using Cloud based resource to automate teaching and feedback systems
Call for collaboration
I recently joined the Cloud Computing Innovation Council of India and went through their one of important publication namely CCICI ‘s “A Cloud Computing Adoption and Innovation in India: An approach to a Road-map. The publication defines a phased path for cloud adoption and innovation. My current work is at phase I which is “ Adoption and Foundation. Next I would move to collaboration phase, where I would be exploiting the features of cloud computing to extend the scope of my teaching to students beyond my college and collaborate with teachers and researches in India. One of my current collaborative project is a cloud computing curriculum. Any faculty interested can contact me for such initiatives. I am also developing a one minute cloud computing video series using Youtube. You may view 300+ videos covering cloud computing topics athttp://youtube.com/user/dastikop
Other cloud features such as simultaneous editing of a document by more than two users and sharing documents with one or more people in a collaborative environment is also demonstrated
More innovation include teaching students how to blog, collaborate and check their documents for readability using Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease Flesch Kincaid Grade Level scores provided in Google docs and collaborative features. It is a work still under progress.
We are living in one of the most exciting times of human evolution. The reason is cloud computing. It has made world a connected, collaborative and communicative. We owe it to our students to prepare them for tomorrow that is very much different from today. My work so far has just scratched the surface and I am very willing to go as far as possible on this path with my students and fellow citizens.