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Posts Tagged ‘cloud’

When the Lining of the Cloud ISN’T Silver . . .

November 24th, 2008 jonmott Comments

Google’s free SecondLife clone, Lively, is going away at the end of the year. As Google notes on its official blog, “not every bet is going to pay off.” Google’s recommendation for preserving what you’ve built on Lively? “We’d encourage all Lively users to capture your hard work by taking videos and screenshots of your rooms.” Hmm. Too bad there aren’t any 3D-world standards that would allow virtual environment creators to export and redeploy what they’ve created . . .  

The more pertinent note, at least for the subject matter of this blog, is that the lining of the cloud isn’t always silver. As Kyle Matthews noted in a post today, this should remind us all that free cloud-delivered software has an obvious and–depending on how much you rely on it–potentially devastating downside. Say you had built a rich 3D environment for a course you were going to launch in Lively next semester. You’d be out of luck. I’m thinking the “videos and screenshots of your rooms” would be missing some of the interactivity you had in mind when you set it up.

While PLEs are big part of the future of education and a world in which learning is more learner-centric, some caution is in order when we rely heavily on cloud-based apps. I’m not suggesting that Google Docs or Blogger are going to disappear anytime soon, but educational technologists run a decided risk when they rely on free cloud apps for mission critical teaching and learning functionality. One alternative is to deploy open source versions of these apps on servers we control on our own campuses, but that misses some of the promised efficiency and elegance of the Web 2.0 promise.

With economic hard times ahead, we might see several promising cloud apps disappear. Here’s hoping that the natural selection process won’t be too brutal. In the meantime, learning technologists must come to grips with the sometimes harsh economic realities of the Web 2.0 world. If our favorite app doesn’t prove economically viable, it will eventually go away. Then what?

Bridging the Gap Between the Campus Enterprise and the Cloud

November 19th, 2008 jonmott Comments

PlugJam (http://plugjam.com) appears to offer a crucial piece of the open learning network puzzle. While it makes intuitive sense to allow seamless integration between campus-based apps and Web 2.0 apps, it’s much easier to think about such integrations than it is to actually pull them off. According the company’s website, “PlugJam is a solution for schools, colleges, and universities looking to bridge the gap between existing campus-based tools and Web 2.0 services, allowing students to use their favorite social networking environment or Web Service to access their campus-based resources.”

This illustration (also from PlugJam’s website) shows how the PlugJam open API facilitates interconnectivity between the campus enterprise and the cloud:

Among other things, PlugJam allows campuses to:

  • Create social and informal learning tools from your existing systems
  • Link your Web 2.0 photos, videos and bookmarks
  • Build dynamic e-Portfolios with Campus and Social Network Resources e.g. Flickr, YouTube, Delicious
  • PlugJam has already built ”connectors” for Blackboard, Moodle, Peoplesoft Student, “identity management servers” and “portal servers”.

    I can’t wait to see what this tool can do!

    (For another take on PlugJam, see “Bringing Student ‘Stuff’ to Campus Enterprise Systems“.)