Cloud-based technologies represent computer resources and capacities that are delivered to the user as an Internet service. The essence of cloud-based technologies is to provide hosting users with remote access to services, computing resources and applications via the Internet.
Compared to the traditional approach, cloud services allow managing larger infrastructures, serve different groups of users within a single cloud, and also mean complete dependence on the cloud service provider. It is necessary to consider the use of cloud technologies in the framework of student learning, assess the benefits that the use of cloud-based technologies can give and why their use seems to be effective with regard to the organization of the modern educational process. Currently, the study of almost any discipline is carried out using modern computer technologies. Computing technology allows not only to carry out complex calculations but also to get access to any materials via the Internet. The development of ICT has contributed to the creation of a large number of application software products that are used or potentially can be used during the educational process. If a teacher does not have an opportunity to install the needed computer programs or software, cloud technologies come in handy, solving this problem with more or less success. The vast majority of computer classes in educational institutions use a local network that allows accessing to the corporate network of an educational institution, including the use of private cloud resources if it is created, as well as the global Internet (the ability to use public and/or hybrid cloud resources).
It should be noted a number of tasks specific to the educational process, which can be successfully solved using server virtualization technology:
- Ensuring students access to computer resources outside school hours;
- Providing teachers with access to one or more virtual computers with administrator rights;
- The ability to stop and maintain the state of virtual machines provides with more flexible learning;
- For students studying computer disciplines, educational institutions offer an extensive program that includes the study of various operating systems and application software, which can be quite resource-intensive.
Cloud technologies such as virtual cloud assistant help to save a lot of time and provide students with the opportunity to get rid of routine work. For example, Apple already works on improving Siri (virtual assistant). The student will be able to simply pronounce the voice command “type my essay” and Siri is to promptly type the text on the gadget for subsequent printing it or sending it to the professor for correction. Moreover, Siri is able individually to propose new fresh ideas for future research and look up to the relevant information on the Internet, offering it to the user. Thus, the person will be more engaged in learning activities, as this creates a kind of interactivity. The student is immersed in work and at the same time does not sit silently, thinking about writing.
Considering the possibility of using cloud solutions in the learning process, it should be noted the possible difficulties of implementation and existing shortcomings. The teacher of the discipline readable to students does not always have sufficient qualifications in order to manage cloud resources as part of the task of ensuring the learning process. There is a dependence on the connection to the network, as well as when working with important information, it is necessary to make backup copies on local computers and portable media. It is worth paying attention to innovative IT-applications, for example, currently, many cloud services can be used in the learning process or academic writing services like Pro-Papers. Google Corporation develops and provides many applications and services that can be accessed with any browser (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc.) having an Internet connection.
A special place is GoogleApps. For learning purposes, Google Apps Education Edition is developed – a free package for educational institutions, which includes all the features of the professional package.
The main functions of cloud-based technologies in learning include:
The possibilities of using cloud-based technologies in the educational process:
- Storage of learning materials on the cloud;
- Organization of joint work;
- Work with educational information anytime and anywhere;
- Unlimited access to information;
- Organization of independent work;
- Sharing learning material;
- Organization of interactive forms of education;
- Checking off completed assignments faster and easier.
Cloud-based technologies are a powerful tool for improving the effectiveness of learning by solving several tasks such as:
- Formation of single course content;
- Organization of unlimited access to training materials;
- The organization of the educational process with joint access to educational and additional materials;
- Organization of independent work of students.
- Organization of accounting and controlling of tasks performed.
When using the services of cloud technologies in the educational process, teachers have completely different opportunities to manage the cognitive activity of students than is the case with traditional teaching methods, which affects the organization of students’ independent work. In the process of independent work of students, the teacher is to manage the process of obtaining and assimilating knowledge by students. Control of knowledge is a quantitative characteristic of the degree of assimilation of the studied material. The use of cloud-based services in the educational process is a new way of organizing the educational process and offers an alternative to the traditional methods of organizing student learning activities. There is an opportunity for the organization of personal training, collective teaching and the improvement of interactive forms of education.
The main advantage of using cloud-based technologies services in the educational process is the ability of the teacher and students to work together, which affects the improvement of the quality of the educational process. ICT creates our future and it will be foolish to deny their usefulness. Thus, all universities should strive for establishing cloud technologies and teach students how to properly use them.