A Proposal for the Adoption and Use of Cloud Computing in Secondary Education in South Africa

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11th DIS Annual Conference 2010, 2nd – 3rd September, Richardsbay, University of Zululand, South Africa

A PROPOSAL FOR THE ADOPTION AND USE OF CLOUD COMPUTING IN SECONDARY EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA CJB Le Roux1 and N. Evans2 , Department of Information Studies, University of Zululand, Richards Bay South Africa jleroux@pan.uzulu.ac.za nevans@pan.uzulu.ac.za Abstract Cloud computing is a relatively new concept that holds significant promises for the future development and delivery of computer resources to K-12, also referred to as secondary or basic education in South Africa, especially in schools most affected by the digital divide. In view of the recent announcement by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, that Outcomes Based Education (OBE) will finally be scrapped, it seems advisable to investigate global benchmarks to discover how Internet resources such as cloud computing can be used to avert many of the information delivery problems that crippled OBE in the new education plan referred to as “Schooling 2025” (Mahlungu, 2010). Although details of the new education plan are still to be announced, it will suffer the same fate as OBE if the role and future of information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as cloud computing in secondary education, are not recognised and made part of the revised curriculum.

The aim of this paper is to briefly review the extent to which cloud computing applications and services currently used by secondary education systems in developed countries around the world can be used to help breach the digital divide that currently exists in the secondary (basic) education sector in South Africa.

Keywords: Cloud computing, secondary education, K12, Google docs, digital divide

Introduction

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Jerry Le Roux is Associate Professor in the Department of Information Studies, University of Zululand, South Africa 2 Neil Evans is a Lecturer in the Department of Information Studies as well as a PhD student in the same Department.

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11th DIS Annual Conference 2010, 2nd – 3rd September, Richardsbay, University of Zululand, South Africa

The use of the Internet and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to deliver educational resources is considered to be mainstream practice in the 21st century, yet in secondary education in developing countries it is often viewed as a luxury. This has far-reaching effects on teachers, learners and educational institutions in countries that lack basic ICT infrastructure and limited or no support for the training of teachers and learners in the use of digital online information sources. It is increasingly accepted that in the future, most information sources and desktop applications currently used will be accessed through the Internet or “cloud” applications. This means that at secondary school level, ICTs should be adopted as a matter of urgency to enable teachers and learners to access these new directions in Internet technology and application delivery. Teachers and learners will no longer have to physically carry their documents and data around with them; the “cloud” will enable them to access documents and data anywhere, from any connected device. This blending of traditional teaching and learning with online applications and tools for collaborated learning via the Internet is a fundamental concept of cloud computing.

The term “cloud computing”, which has been described as an Internet computing model that offers unparalleled access to computing resources, was introduced into the public domain around 2006 when Amazon announced a limited public beta version of its Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) system. By this time, Google’s Gmail (first released as Google Mail in Germany in 2004) application was already more than two years old, but many did not at the time associate the application with the concept of cloud computing. It was only in 2006 when Eric Schmidt (Bogatin, 2006), Google’s CEO, described his company’s...
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