September / October 2014


Discuss on LinkedInSeptember/October 2014

Special Issue on Cloud-supported Education

This issue of Cloud-Link is about Cloud-supported Education. Cloud computing can be both enabler of new education solutions and also source of new courses and curricula to answer emerging industrial needs.  The papers in this issue cover both of these important areas.  We also suggest three additional papers that extend the topic to two very current and related areas: MOOCs and Big Data.

Cloud computing can be an efficient way to provision computing laboratory resources - this is the topic of "Cloud-Based Virtual Laboratory for Network Security Education" and "An Embedded Systems Laboratory to Support Rapid Prototyping of Robotics and the Internet of Things". Another interesting area not only applicable to education is collaborative writing - the paper "Functional and Nonfunctional Quality in Cloud-Based Collaborative Writing: An Empirical Investigation" covers this topic. Several other publications discuss general applicability of Cloud computing to education and science, including "Cloud Computing in Education", "EduCloud: PaaS versus IaaS Cloud Usage for an Advanced Computer Science Course", and "Enabling on-demand science via cloud computing".

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) have attracted considerable interest in the last few years. "MOOCs: So Many Learners, So Much Potential ..." and "Controls for the Masses [Focus on Education]" seek to present some different views and potentials of this topic.

Last, but not least we touch on the topic of Big Data (i.e., using cloud services for certain types of big data applications).  The authors of "The Web of Data: Bridging the Skills Gap" identify and describe a widening skills gap between rapidly growing industrial needs for specialist in Big Data, Data Engineering and Data Science and available curricula.

We hope that this issue of Cloud-Link can provide you with useful references to explore this important and interesting topic further. Articles have been selected based on various considerations (e.g., variety, relevancy, anticipated readers' interests) and unavoidably there are many other useful and insightful articles that have not been included. You are also encouraged to search through IEEE Xplore and other databases for further reading.

The next issue (November/December 2014) of Cloud-Link will be "Intercloud and Multicloud". If you would like to recommend any useful articles, please email them to Furthermore, we are looking for topics for the upcoming issues. If you have any suggestions, please also let us know.

Henry Chan, Victor Leung, Jens Jensen and Tomasz Wiktor Wlodarczyk
Editor and Associate Editors

Articles in this issue

Functional and Nonfunctional Quality in Cloud-Based Collaborative Writing: An Empirical Investigation

By Kim, J.; Mohan, K.; Ramesh, B

Published in IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, September 2014

Research problem: Collaborative writing has dramatically changed with the use of cloud-based tools, such as Google Docs. System quality—both functional (i.e., what services the system provides) and nonfunctional quality (i.e., how well the system provides the services)—influences user satisfaction with these tools. Research question: Do functional and nonfunctional quality influence user satisfaction in cloud-based systems that support collaborative writing? Literature review: The intersection of literature from collaborative writing and system quality presents the theoretical foundation for this study. The literature on collaborative writing suggests that technology facilitates and constrains collaborative writing, while the literature on cloud computing highlights the challenges in ensuring various aspects of quality. Furthermore, literature on system quality emphasizes the importance of the different facets of quality (i.e., functional and nonfunctional) and their impacts on user satisfaction. Methodology: We conducted a survey of 150 undergraduate students enrolled in an information systems course at a large urban university. Results: The results show that functional and nonfunctional quality play a critical role in shaping user satisfaction with cloud computing and that nonfunctional quality has a stronger impact than functional quality. Implications: To ensure satisfaction with cloud computing, organizations need to provide adequate development and maintenance resources to ensure both types of quality, and they need to recognize that nonfunctional quality plays a key role in shaping user satisfaction with cloud computing.

Read the full article at IEEE Xplore...   Back to top

Cloud-Based Virtual Laboratory for Network Security Education

By Le Xu; Dijiang Huang; Wei-Tek Tsai

Published in IEEE Transactions on Education, August 2014

Hands-on experiments are essential for computer network security education. Existing laboratory solutions usually require significant effort to build, configure, and maintain and often do not support reconfigurability, flexibility, and scalability. This paper presents a cloud-based virtual laboratory education platform called V-Lab that provides a contained experimental environment for hands-on experiments using virtualization technologies (such as Xen or KVM Cloud Platform) and OpenFlow switches. The system can be securely accessed through OpenVPN, and students can remotely control the virtual machines (VMs) and perform the experimental tasks. The V-Lab platform also offers an interactive Web GUI for resource management and a social site for knowledge sharing and contribution. By using a flexible and configurable design, V-Lab integrates pedagogical models into curriculum design and provides a progressive learning path with a series of experiments for network security education. Since summer 2011, V-Lab has served more than 1000 students from six courses across over 20 experiments. The evaluation demonstrates that the platform and curriculum have produced excellent results and helped students understand and build up computer security knowledge to solve real-world problems.

Read the full article at IEEE Xplore...   Back to top

Enabling On-Demand Science via Cloud Computing

By Keahey, K.; Parashar, M.

Published in IEEE Cloud Computing, May 2014

The advantages of on-demand resource availability are making cloud computing a viable platform option for research and education that may enable new practices in science and engineering.

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The Web of Data: Bridging the Skills Gap

By Domingue, J.; d'Aquin, M.; Simperl, E.; Mikroyannidis, A,

Published in IEEE Intelligent Systems, January/February 2014

With a projected six-figure skills gap looming in the US alone, here the authors share strategies and lessons learned regarding how to bridge the gap in training competent data scientists in the near future.

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Controls for the Masses [Focus on Education]

By Egerstedt, M.

Published in IEEE Control Systems, August 2013

During the spring of 2013, I taught a massive open online course (MOOC), Control of Mobile Robots, to over 40,000 students worldwide. Online resources for higher education have received significant attention during the last year, but upper-level engineering classes have been virtually absent from all the major MOOC content providers(Udacity, Coursera, edX).

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Cloud Computing in Education

By Alam, M.T.

Published in IEEE Potentials, July/August 2013

Cloud computing - a relatively recent term - builds on decades of research in virtualization, distributed computing, utility computing, and, more recently, networking, and Web and software services. It implies a service-oriented architecture, reduced information technology overhead for the end-user, great flexibility, reduced total cost of ownership, on-demand services, and many other things. It is apparent that educational institutions are likely to seize those services offered in the cloud in these difficult times due to its pay-as-you-go cost structure. However, does the cloud have the answers to all the challenges in technical education?

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MOOCs: So Many Learners, So Much Potential ...

By Kay, J.; Reimann, P.; Diebold, E.; Kummerfeld, B.,

Published in IEEE Intelligent Systems, May/June 2013

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have exploded onto the scene, promising to satisfy a worldwide thirst for a high-quality, personalized, and free education. This article explores where MOOCs fit within the e-learning and Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) landscape.

Read the full article at IEEE Xplore...   Back to top

An Embedded Systems Laboratory to Support Rapid Prototyping of Robotics and the Internet of Things

By Hamblen, J.O.; van Bekkum, G.M.E.

Published in IEEE Transactions on Education, February 2013

This paper describes a new approach for a course and laboratory designed to allow students to develop low-cost prototypes of robotic and other embedded devices that feature Internet connectivity, I/O, networking, a real-time operating system (RTOS), and object-oriented C/C . The application programming interface (API) libraries provided permit students to work at a higher level of abstraction. A low-cost 32-bit SOC RISC microcontroller module with flash memory, numerous I/O interfaces, and on-chip networking hardware is used to build prototypes. A cloud-based C/C compiler is used for software development. All student files are stored on a server, and any Web browser can be used for software development. Breadboards are used in laboratory projects to rapidly build prototypes of robots and embedded devices using the microcontroller, networking, and other I/O subsystems on small breakout boards. The commercial breakout boards used provide a large assortment of modern sensors, drivers, display ICs, and external I/O connectors. Resources provided include eBooks, laboratory assignments, and extensive Wiki pages with schematics and sample microcontroller application code for each breakout board.

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EduCloud: PaaS versus IaaS Cloud Usage for an Advanced Computer Science Course

By Vaquero, L.M.

Published in IEEE Transactions on Education, November 2011

The cloud has become a widely used term in academia and the industry. Education has not remained unaware of this trend, and several educational solutions based on cloud technologies are already in place, especially for software as a service cloud. However, an evaluation of the educational potential of infrastructure and platform clouds has not been explored yet. An evaluation of which type of cloud would be the most beneficial for students to learn, depending on the technical knowledge required for its usage, is missing. Here, the first systematic evaluation of different types of cloud technologies in an advanced course on network overlays with 84 students and four professors is presented. This evaluation tries to answer the question whether cloud technologies (and which specific type of cloud) can be useful in educational scenarios for computer science students by focusing students in the actual tasks at hand. This study demonstrates that platform clouds are valued by both students and professors to achieve the course objectives and that clouds offer a significant improvement over the previous situation in labs where much effort was devoted to setting up the software necessary for course activities. These results most strongly apply to courses in which students interact with resources that are non-self-contained (e.g., network nodes, databases, mechanical equipment, or the cloud itself), but could also apply to other science disciplines that involve programming or performing virtual experiments.

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