In recent years, we have seen a significant number of new technological ideas appearing in literature discussing the future of education. For example, E-learning, cloud computing, social networking, virtual laboratories, virtual realities, virtual worlds, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and bring your own[...] Read more.
In recent years, we have seen a significant number of new technological ideas appearing in literature discussing the future of education. For example, E-learning, cloud computing, social networking, virtual laboratories, virtual realities, virtual worlds, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and bring your own device (BYOD) are all new concepts of immersive and global education that have emerged in educational literature. One of the greatest challenges presented to e-learning solutions is the reproduction of the benefits of an educational institution’s physical laboratory. For a university without a computing lab, to obtain hands-on IT training with software, operating systems, networks, servers, storage, and cloud computing similar to that which could be received on a university campus computing lab, it is necessary to use a combination of technological tools. Such teaching tools must promote the transmission of knowledge, encourage interaction and collaboration, and ensure students obtain valuable hands-on experience. That, in turn, allows the universities to focus more on teaching and research activities than on the implementation and configuration of complex physical systems. In this article, we present a model for implementing ecosystems which allow universities to teach practical Information Technology (IT) skills. The model utilizes what is called a “social cloud”, which utilizes all cloud computing services, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Additionally, it integrates the cloud learning aspects of a MOOC and several aspects of social networking and support. Social clouds have striking benefits such as centrality, ease of use, scalability, and ubiquity, providing a superior learning environment when compared to that of a simple physical lab. The proposed model allows students to foster all the educational pillars such as learning to know, learning to be, learning to live together, and, primarily, learning to do, through hands-on IT training from a MOOCs. An aspect of the model has been verified experimentally and statistically through a course of computer operating systems.