Special Issue "Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Computing and Artificial Intelligence".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Miguel Ángel Conde
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Departamento de Ingenierías Mecánica, Informática y Aeroespacial, Escuela de Ingenierías Industrial e Informática, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain
Interests: ICT applied to education; STEM education; cloud computing education; robotics and education; learning analytics; learning personalization; learning management systems; personal learning environments; mobile learning
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are currently involved in the Digital Society, a context that is continuously evolving, supported by technology. Today, one of the most popular technologies is that related to cloud computing. This paradigm facilitates users accessing different kinds of virtual resources, providing them with a wide choice of tools and services to use at any moment in their daily life. Cloud computing has been applied in very different contexts, such as entertainment, health care, military operations, security issues, business and finance, human resources, etc. This Special Issue is focused on cloud computing applications for academic purposes: education and research. It is not looking for works related to the simple application of some tools but for innovations in this field. In particular, the Special Issue will consider works related to the application of cloud computing in learning activities; educational approaches to learn about cloud computing; the use of cloud computing by institutions to provide educational services/platforms; and cloud computing and security in education. This Special Issue is therefore focused on (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Innovations in the application of cloud services and tools in education;
  • Assessment of the use of cloud computing in education;
  • Learning about cloud computing application;
  • Studies about trends in cloud computing application with academic proposes;
  • Cloud-based learning environments;
  • Educational institutions and the definition of cloud-based educational services and infrastructure;
  • Managing information in cloud computing educational approaches;
  • Secure cloud computing applications in education.

Dr. Miguel Ángel Conde
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • cloud computing
  • software as a service
  • infrastructure as a service
  • platform as a service
  • education
  • learning environments
  • security
  • learning activities

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Determinants of Service Quality of Cloud E-Learning System for Active System Usage
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 4176; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11094176 - 03 May 2021
Viewed by 366
Abstract
E-Learning through a cloud-based learning management system, with its various added advantageous features, is a widely used pedagogy at educational institutions in general and more particularly during and post Covid-19 period. Successful adoption and implementation of cloud E-Learning seems difficult without significant service [...] Read more.
E-Learning through a cloud-based learning management system, with its various added advantageous features, is a widely used pedagogy at educational institutions in general and more particularly during and post Covid-19 period. Successful adoption and implementation of cloud E-Learning seems difficult without significant service quality. Aims: This study aims to identify the determinant of cloud E-Learning service quality. Methodology: A theoretical model was proposed to gauge the cloud E-Learning service quality by extensive literature search. The most important factors for cloud E-Learning service quality were screened. Instruments for each factor were defined properly, and its content validity was checked with the help of Group Decision Makers (GDMs). Empirical testing was used to validate the proposed theoretical model, the self-structured closed-ended questionnaire was used to conduct an online survey. Findings: Internal consistency of the proposed model was checked with reliability and composite reliability and found appropriate α ≥ 0.70 and CR ≥ 0.70. Indicator Reliability was matched with the help of Outer Loading and found deemed fit OL ≥ 0.70. To establish Convergent Validity Average Variance Extracted, Factor Loading and Composite Reliability were used and found deemed suitable with AVE ≥ 0.50. The HTMT and Fornell–Lacker tests were applied to assess discriminant validity and found appropriate (HTMT ≤ 0.85). Finally, the Variance Inflation Factor was used to detect multicollinearity if any and found internal and external VIF < 3. Conclusions: Theoretical model for cloud E-Learning service quality was proposed. Information Quality, Reliability, Perceived ease of use and Social Influence were considered as explanatory variables whereas actual system usage was the dependent variable. Empirical testing on all parameters stated that the proposed model was deemed fit in evaluating cloud E-Learning service quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Toward Adaptability of E-Evaluation: Transformation from Tree-Based to Graph-Based Structure
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 4082; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11094082 - 29 Apr 2021
Viewed by 203
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine have forced students to use distance learning. Modern information technologies have enabled global e-learning usage but also revealed a lack of personalization and adaptation in the learning process when compared to face-to-face learning. While adaptive e-learning methods exist, [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine have forced students to use distance learning. Modern information technologies have enabled global e-learning usage but also revealed a lack of personalization and adaptation in the learning process when compared to face-to-face learning. While adaptive e-learning methods exist, their practical application is slow because of the additional time and resources needed to prepare learning material and its logical adaptation. To increase e-learning materials’ usability and decrease the design complexity of automated adaptive students’ work evaluation, we propose several transformations from a competence tree-based structure to a graph-based automated e-evaluation structure. Related works were summarized to highlight existing e-evaluation structures and the need for new transformations. Competence tree-based e-evaluation structure improvements were presented to support the implementation of top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top transformations. Validation of the proposed transformation was executed by analyzing different use-cases and comparing them to the existing graph-to-tree transformation. Research results revealed that the competence tree-based learning material storage is more reusable than graph-based solutions. Competence tree-based learning material can be transformed for different purposes in graph-based e-evaluation solutions. Meanwhile, graph-based learning material transformation to tree-based structure implies material redundancy, and the competence of the tree structure cannot be restored. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Transparency in the Teamwork Development through Cloud Computing
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 3887; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11093887 - 25 Apr 2021
Viewed by 315
Abstract
Active educational methodologies promote students to take an active role in their own learning, enhance cooperative work, and develop a collective understanding of the subject as a common learning area. Cloud Computing enables the learning space to be supported while also revolutionizing it [...] Read more.
Active educational methodologies promote students to take an active role in their own learning, enhance cooperative work, and develop a collective understanding of the subject as a common learning area. Cloud Computing enables the learning space to be supported while also revolutionizing it by allowing it to be used as a link between active methodology and students’ learning activities. A Cloud Computing system is used in conjunction with an active methodology to recognize and manage individual, group, and collective evidence of the students’ work in this research. The key hypothesis shown in this work is that if evidence management is made clear and evidence is consistently and gradually presented to students, their level of involvement will increase, and their learning outcomes will improve. The model was implemented in a university subject of a first academic year using the active Flipped Classroom methodology, and the individual, group and collective evidence is constantly worked with throughout the implementation of a teamwork method. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Towards a Technological Ecosystem to Provide Information Dashboards as a Service: A Dynamic Proposal for Supplying Dashboards Adapted to Specific Scenarios
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(7), 3249; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11073249 - 05 Apr 2021
Viewed by 405
Abstract
Data are crucial to improve decision-making and obtain greater benefits in any type of activity. However, the large amount of information generated by new technologies has made data analysis and knowledge generation a complex task. Numerous tools have emerged to facilitate this generation [...] Read more.
Data are crucial to improve decision-making and obtain greater benefits in any type of activity. However, the large amount of information generated by new technologies has made data analysis and knowledge generation a complex task. Numerous tools have emerged to facilitate this generation of knowledge, such as dashboards. Although dashboards are useful tools, their effectiveness can be affected by poor design or by not taking into account the context in which they are placed. Therefore, it is necessary to design and create custom dashboards according to the audience and data domain. This paper presents an application of the software product line paradigm and the integration of this approach into a web service to allow users to request source code for customized information dashboards. The main goal is to introduce the idea of creating a holistic ecosystem of different services to craft and integrate information visualizations in a variety of contexts. One of the contexts that can be especially favored by this approach is the educational context, where learning analytics, data analysis of student performance, and didactic tools are becoming very relevant. Three different use cases of this approach are presented to illustrate the benefits of the developed generative service. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
A Cloud Game-Based Educative Platform Architecture: The CyberScratch Project
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(2), 807; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020807 - 16 Jan 2021
Viewed by 456
Abstract
The employment of modern technologies is widespread in our society, so the inclusion of practical activities for education has become essential and useful at the same time. These activities are more noticeable in Engineering, in areas such as cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence, [...] Read more.
The employment of modern technologies is widespread in our society, so the inclusion of practical activities for education has become essential and useful at the same time. These activities are more noticeable in Engineering, in areas such as cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence, etc. Additionally, these activities acquire even more relevance with a distance education methodology, as our case is. The inclusion of these practical activities has clear advantages, such as (1) promoting critical thinking and (2) improving students’ abilities and skills for their professional careers. There are several options, such as the use of remote and virtual laboratories, virtual reality and game-based platforms, among others. This work addresses the development of a new cloud game-based educational platform, which defines a modular and flexible architecture (using light containers). This architecture provides interactive and monitoring services and data storage in a transparent way. The platform uses gamification to integrate the game as part of the instructional process. The CyberScratch project is a particular implementation of this architecture focused on cybersecurity game-based activities. The data privacy management is a critical issue for these kinds of platforms, so the architecture is designed with this feature integrated in the platform components. To achieve this goal, we first focus on all the privacy aspects for the data generated by our cloud game-based platform, by considering the European legal context for data privacy following GDPR and ISO/IEC TR 20748-1:2016 recommendations for Learning Analytics (LA). Our second objective is to provide implementation guidelines for efficient data privacy management for our cloud game-based educative platform. All these contributions are not found in current related works. The CyberScratch project, which was approved by UNED for the year 2020, considers using the xAPI standard for data handling and services for the game editor, game engine and game monitor modules of CyberScratch. Therefore, apart from considering GDPR privacy and LA recommendations, our cloud game-based architecture covers all phases from game creation to the final users’ interactions with the game. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Educational Warehouse: Modular, Private and Secure Cloudable Architecture System for Educational Data Storage, Analysis and Access
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(2), 806; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020806 - 16 Jan 2021
Viewed by 587
Abstract
Data in the educational context are becoming increasingly important in decision-making and teaching-learning processes. Similar to the industrial context, educational institutions are adopting data-processing technologies at all levels. To achieve representative results, the processes of extraction, transformation and uploading of educational data should [...] Read more.
Data in the educational context are becoming increasingly important in decision-making and teaching-learning processes. Similar to the industrial context, educational institutions are adopting data-processing technologies at all levels. To achieve representative results, the processes of extraction, transformation and uploading of educational data should be ubiquitous because, without useful data, either internal or external, it is difficult to perform a proper analysis and to obtain unbiased educational results. It should be noted that the source and type of data are heterogeneous and that the analytical processes can be so diverse that it opens up a practical problem of management and access to the data generated. At the same time, ensuring the privacy, identity, confidentiality and security of students and their data is a “sine qua non” condition for complying with the legal issues involved while achieving the required ethical premises. This work proposes a modular and scalable data system architecture that solves the complexity of data management and access. On the one hand, it allows educational institutions to collect any data generated in both the teaching-learning and management processes. On the other hand, it will enable external access to this data under appropriate privacy and security conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
A Pilot Experience with Software Programming Environments as a Service for Teaching Activities
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(1), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11010341 - 31 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 392
Abstract
Software programming is one of the key abilities for the development of Computational Thinking (CT) skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). However, specific software tools to emulate realistic scenarios are required for effective teaching. Unfortunately, these tools have some limitations in [...] Read more.
Software programming is one of the key abilities for the development of Computational Thinking (CT) skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). However, specific software tools to emulate realistic scenarios are required for effective teaching. Unfortunately, these tools have some limitations in educational environments due to the need of an adequate configuration and orchestration, which usually assumes an unaffordable work overload for teachers and is inaccessible for students outside the laboratories. To mitigate the aforementioned limitations, we rely on cloud solutions that automate the process of orchestration and configuration of software tools on top of cloud computing infrastructures. This way, the paper presents ACTaaS as a cloud-based educational resource that deploys and orchestrates a whole realistic software programming environment. ACTaaS provides a simple, fast and automatic way to set up a professional integrated environment without involving an overload to the teacher, and it provides an ubiquitous access to the environment. The solution has been tested in a pilot group of 28 students. Currently, there is no tool like ACTaaS that allows such a high grade of automation for the deployment of software production environments focused on educational activities supporting a wide range of cloud providers. Preliminary results through a pilot group predict its effectiveness due to the efficiency to set up a class environment in minutes without overloading the teachers, and providing ubiquitous access to students. In addition, the first student opinions about the experience were greatly positive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Atenea Exams, an IMS LTI Application to Solve Scalability Problems: A Study Case
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(1), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11010080 - 24 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 543
Abstract
In 2004, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya decided to change one of its critical and strategic information services: the online teaching support platform. An Open Source software, Moodle, was adopted and the previous proprietary software was abandoned. In 2020, the home confinement of [...] Read more.
In 2004, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya decided to change one of its critical and strategic information services: the online teaching support platform. An Open Source software, Moodle, was adopted and the previous proprietary software was abandoned. In 2020, the home confinement of the population due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19 has been a stress test for the entire university community, and very specifically by those responsible for providing the support of the online teaching support platform. The increase in activity and the prospect of the generalization of online assessment raised the concerns of possible scalability issues with the quiz functionality during the examination period. The solution applied involved using Moodle’s IMS LTI interoperability features to deploy a high-performance version of the Moodle Quizz Module As A Service (SaaS), to plug-and-play within the university’s LMS without drawing on its internal resources. This solution combined with a systems strategy, private cloud operations, internal communication and teacher training, solved this problem and successfully complete the assessment of the university course in a situation of confinement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Insights from Learning Analytics for Hands-On Cloud Computing Labs in AWS
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(24), 9148; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10249148 - 21 Dec 2020
Viewed by 511
Abstract
Cloud computing instruction requires hands-on experience with a myriad of distributed computing services from a public cloud provider. Tracking the progress of the students, especially for online courses, requires one to automatically gather evidence and produce learning analytics in order to further determine [...] Read more.
Cloud computing instruction requires hands-on experience with a myriad of distributed computing services from a public cloud provider. Tracking the progress of the students, especially for online courses, requires one to automatically gather evidence and produce learning analytics in order to further determine the behavior and performance of students. With this aim, this paper describes the experience from an online course in cloud computing with Amazon Web Services on the creation of an open-source data processing tool to systematically obtain learning analytics related to the hands-on activities carried out throughout the course. These data, combined with the data obtained from the learning management system, have allowed the better characterization of the behavior of students in the course. Insights from a population of more than 420 online students through three academic years have been assessed, the dataset has been released for increased reproducibility. The results corroborate that course length has an impact on online students dropout. In addition, a gender analysis pointed out that there are no statistically significant differences in the final marks between genders, but women show an increased degree of commitment with the activities planned in the course. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Influencing Cloud Computing Adoption in Higher Education Institutions of Least Developed Countries: Evidence from Republic of Yemen
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(22), 8098; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10228098 - 16 Nov 2020
Viewed by 560
Abstract
Cloud-based technology, which is now well established, helps in reducing costs and providing accessibility, reliability and flexibility. However, the Yemen higher educational institutions (HEIs) have not yet embraced the technology due to security and privacy concerns, lack of trust, negative cultural attitudes (i.e., [...] Read more.
Cloud-based technology, which is now well established, helps in reducing costs and providing accessibility, reliability and flexibility. However, the Yemen higher educational institutions (HEIs) have not yet embraced the technology due to security and privacy concerns, lack of trust, negative cultural attitudes (i.e., tribalism), and most importantly, lack of digital devices experience in educational settings as well as lack of knowledge and technical know-how. Thus, this study proposes a conceptual model of cloud computing adoption in Yemen HEIs by investigating the influence of technology, organization and environment (TOE) factors. In addition, this study investigates the moderating effect of tribalism culture in the relationships between the identified factors and cloud computing adoption. The study employed the quantitative approach to determine the factors that influence cloud computing adoption in Yemen HEIs through a questionnaire survey. Data were collected from 328 respondents in 38 HEIs and analyzed using partial least square (PLS) structural equation modelling (SEM). The results indicate that relative advantage, reliability, compatibility, security, technology readiness, top management support, regulatory policy and competitive pressure have positive significant impacts on the cloud computing adoption, except tribalism culture with negative significant impact. The study also found that tribalism culture moderates the relationship between compatibility, reliability, security, relative advantage, regulatory policy and cloud computing adoption. This study contributes to the TOE adoption model by including the cultural factor as a moderator towards cloud computing adoption in Yemen HEIs. The study also provides a model and insights for HEIs, technology consultants, vendors and policy makers in better understanding of the factors that influence cloud computing adoption in least developed countries (LDCs), specifically, Yemen. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
Continuance Use of Cloud Computing in Higher Education Institutions: A Conceptual Model
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(19), 6628; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10196628 - 23 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1253
Abstract
Resource optimization is a key concern for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Cloud Computing, as the recent generation in computing technology of the fourth industrial revolution, has emerged as the main standard of service and resource delivery. As cloud computing has grown into a [...] Read more.
Resource optimization is a key concern for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Cloud Computing, as the recent generation in computing technology of the fourth industrial revolution, has emerged as the main standard of service and resource delivery. As cloud computing has grown into a mature technology and is being rapidly adopted in many HEIs across the world, retaining customers of this innovative technology has become a challenge to the cloud service providers. Current research trends on cloud computing have sought to study the acceptance or adoption of technology; however, little research has been devoted to the continuance use in an organizational setting. To address this gap, this study aims to investigate the antecedents of cloud computing continuance use in HEIs. Hence, drawing on the prior literature in organizational-level continuance, this research established a conceptual model that extends and contextualizes the IS continuance model through the lens of the TOE framework (i.e., technological, organizational, and environmental influences). The results of a pilot study, conducted through a survey with information and communications technology (ICT) decision makers, and based on the proposed conceptual model, indicate that the instrument is both reliable and valid, and so point the way towards further research. The paper closes with a discussion of the research limitations, contribution, and future directions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
A Systematic Mapping Study in Cloud for Educational Innovation
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(13), 4531; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10134531 - 30 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 699
Abstract
For some years now there has been a growing use of cloud computing technologies in education. This paper reports a systematic mapping study (SMS) about the interest in the innovation of methods, techniques, and tools applied to teaching activities based on the use [...] Read more.
For some years now there has been a growing use of cloud computing technologies in education. This paper reports a systematic mapping study (SMS) about the interest in the innovation of methods, techniques, and tools applied to teaching activities based on the use of cloud computing. The SMS presented here was designed using a consolidated, reliable, rigorous methodology and implemented in a replicable and verifiable manner. The process adopted is based on the selection of papers in accredited online digital libraries. This research made it possible to identify and analyze the empirical evidence in relation to the use of cloud computing in education with the aim of identifying both the main topics currently shared by researchers and the less explored areas to be integrated into a research agenda. The results show that only 17% of the 940 works examined report empirical research about the innovation introduced in educational environments of all levels and degrees by the cloud. The results also show that the type of method most widely used was that of feedback. The areas that have attracted the most interest from the research community are those of the new learning environment, collaboration platforms, and virtual laboratories. However, since the same areas are less supported by empirical research than others, we believe that these should be more closely monitored by the scientific community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in the field of Cloud Computing and Education)
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