Learner FocusedApplications in the CloudCase Study
2Case StudyColleges and ProjectsBarnsley College Cloud Computing Hub Core, Hub Metro, Hub MobileBlackburn College Blackburn College Virtual Desktop ServiceGrimsby Institute GIFHE ZoneLeeds City College Classroom in the Cloud – Virtual Desktop InfrastructureNorth East Worcestershire College Using Software as service to deliver cloud based email andoffice toolsOxford and Cherwell College Video Production and Editing for Flipped Classroom OnlineSouth Devon College Cloud Access and backupWarrington Collegiate InstituteSummaryThis set of applications based projects includes a wide range of learner and teacher focused applicationsand different Cloud related approaches.These applications include; making software and communication/collaboration tools available acrosscolleges, to mobile learners and learners at home, making software widely available to those withlearning difficulties, making self-directed learning videos available to vocational students and makingcollege software available at remote college locations. The different Cloud based approaches includeremote and college based Cloud servers linked with virtual desk top structures, use of Google apps, docsand mail for education, including Chromebook, Microsoft 365, and the Kaltura open source online videoplatform used in the Cloud.Key Drivers■ Software licence costs.■ Potential of collaboration.■ Limitations on server capacity.■ Constraints to learningapproaches.■ Limitations of buildings,Limitations of bandwidth androom utilisation issues andstudent software costs.■ Need to integrate informationsystems.Intended Beneficiaries■ Learner.■ Prospective learners.■ Partners.■ Staff.
3Case StudyImpact to date and anticipatedThe impact of these projects includes increased accessibility to applications software by learners andstaff within college, at home and on mobile devices. This increased flexibility is enabling efficiencies inlearning and support. In one project learners are able to access some specific software for those withlearning difficulties at any time or place. Another project enables students in Hospitality and Hair andBeauty to engage in self- directed learning from videos on how to practice their vocation. A number ofprojects enable learners to use their own devices both in and out of college. Some of these projects enablecollaborative working through document sharing.Barnsley College: “By bringing this project into the College and making available externally, it will offerStaff / Students a mechanism of sharing, developing of information and communication tools previouslyunavailable within the College. The College have developed an understanding of how we can use anddevelop the collaborative aspects of the social and group spaces that Cloud Computing and this projectwill bring. This project will have the most impact in September 2013 when all of the new Students returnand will heavily use the system and resources, the project needs to fully test and stress test the system toensure that it will meet the needs of our Staff and Students”.Blackburn College: “Blackburn College has designed and created a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)which allows students to access the MindView software anytime, anywhere without the need for alaptop. The software supports students, particularly those with learning difficulties and/or disabilitiesto brain storm ideas enabling them to structure their essay plans using diagrams, words or images. Thismethod of studying can also be beneficial to any students so we aim to extend the service beyond theinitial pilot and promote it so that any Blackburn College student can access it. In addition College staffcan now access internal software such as Microsoft Office and SPSS externally to the College. Sessionbased desktops are also available which enables software to be accessed via the student network inclassroom settings. Over the next year, the College will look at any additional software packages whichcan be included in the VDI service”.Grimsby Institute: “As part of our ILT and IT strategies we have identified the need to support thebringing of learners’ own technologies into our College network environment. This has generally beenthrough the provision of internet access on their devices. Taking this a step further we are now going toprovide access to full College resources on their device or home PC via a Cloud desktop infrastructure.This would allow the same experience on these devices as College owned devices, and supplementconsiderably on the VLE which gives access to learning materials to radically enrich the learner accessand control. It would give access to the full ‘College’ experience from home or mobile devices.Student experience has generally been positive”.Leeds City College: ”IBM Virtual Desktop Infrastructure has been delivered to a trial group of staff andstudents, allowing access to desktop resources and applications from a range of mobile devices. LeedsCity College students are now gaining a rich mobile learning experience gaining a technologicallyimmersive experience using both College and their own devices, interacting during a lesson in acontrolled environment. Global accessibility, allowing learning on demand -accessing college systemsand software when and where they choose on any web enabled device”.
4Case StudyNorth East Worcestershire College: “A key feature is Single sign on to allow access to Google and all webbased resources. This is currently in pilot. Staff and students have reported ease of access to files andease of sharing with others. Students use features such as forms for research tasks”.Oxford and Cherwell College: “The Kaltura open source online video platform was installed andconfigured to OCVC platforms. Presentations were given to prospective curriculum areas to pilot theproject with their students. Pilots were run in Hair Beauty and Hospitality. Students engaged wellwith video content for learning and flipped learning and good practice was identified. The Platformallowed control and a managed environment for specific selection of video sharing and keeping studentsfocused on tasks. Peer-to-peer learning was taking place and students collaborating on techniques andexperiences. Demonstrations were arranged to re-enforce effective methods of engaging, motivating andsupporting student progression”.South Devon College: “The project delivers applications, resources, data storage andcommunication toremote locations to enable staff and learners. It also enabled back up for disaster recovery purposes ofsome of our critical servers. We have allowed all of our staff and students at our seven remote sites toaccess all the software and resources, to enable them to complete their studies. The staff and learnershave remote access to software and resources which they have never had and they are finding thisinvaluable to the curriculum.”Supplier engagement experiencesSome projects experienced very productive supplier experiences. JISC has proved helpful in informingsupplier selection. Some colleges used their own services rather than an external supplier. Otherswere naturally limited in their supplier choice by the specialist nature of their project. Renegotiatingbandwidth provision within a context of supplier constraints proved to be a challenge. There are somevaluable hints and tips that have emerged for dealing with suppliers.Blackburn College: “The College consulted with a number of suppliers but found their servicesto be expensive and lacked the flexibility to support our project and current college systems andinfrastructure. It was decided that in order to gain the most value from this project, it should be designedin house using the expertise of the Colleges’ Computer Services team”.Leeds City College: “We have had an extremely positive experience in selecting IBM as a key technologypartner. No issues were identified - both Leeds City College and IBM worked together to deliver thecloud solution”.North East Worcestershire College: “There were issues finding a reliable and reputable provider to workwith. Using the JISC Community of practice - helped find a supplier based on recommendations and reallife project work completed”.Oxford and Cherwell College: “Identifying the Cloud provider was fairly straight forward as we werelooking for video production in the Cloud, so the search was specific. There were a lot of companiesthat could provide the platform but not the cloud facility, but that was identified early in discussions.Suppliers are very forthcoming with information but I have learnt about the sales pitch. The larger
5Case Studycompanies will definitely promise all functionality, but when the account is passed over to the accountmanager you realise that certain aspects are still in development. It is important to see the functionalitybefore purchase, question all scenarios and ask for demonstrations and to also see the platform in use atother providers”.South Devon College: “We used long standing contacts with years of IT experience to recommend cloudservice suppliers and having met several, the decision and implementation was very simple. Contactingthem to report issues has been simple”.Warrington Collegiate Institute: ”We struggled to get our broadband service provider to provide ourupgraded internet bandwidth”.Technical and Security ChallengesBarnsley College: “There were no major issues but getting the data from all the data streams proved tobe difficult at times - contacting all suppliers asking them to provide access and code as required”.Blackburn College: ”Remote Desktop services have many components and proved complex to configureto our environment. As the system was designed in house we were able to create a bespoke systemwhich integrated with our current infrastructure”.Grimsby Institute: “The only real risk we had was the worry that a full cloud desktop may just not workin a real environment. This risk was mitigated by having a backup plan - of putting back into the FELearning Centres the 50 full PCs that we were replacing with cloud technology. Thankfully the projecthas worked really well and will be the backbone for future roll-outs within the group”.Leeds City College: “One technical challenge was identified in creating the virtual desktop environmentand integrating to the college networks, however this was solved pretty quickly”.Oxford and Cherwell College: ”LDAP authentication caused issues as we had not anticipated thatthis caused delays with implementation. Application of the service certificate through JANET delayedthe implementation. Use of devices - we had planned to use iPads but then found the platform didntsupport uploads, although you could view the video. We now have the code to install this so that thisfeature works”.Change Management experienceThe main themes emerging here are the need for well -planned training for staff and students, sellingthe benefits of the technology to gain buy in and the use of pilot groups to share findings and informtraining,In one project change management was informed by the needs of learners as a driver for change againstthe background of a reluctant IT department.
6Case StudyBlackburn College: “The response to the VDI has been positive across the College and following thepilot it is our intention to showcase the service and encourage feedback from staff and students on whatsoftware would support their work and studies. Staff development sessions will also be held to supportstaff in the use of the service and its further development”.North East Worcestershire College: “Staff were initially wary of using a cloud based service to host filesand were worried about issues of access - could they get them all the time etc? Initially we did Googleapps training as one thing but found we had to break down each individual element and work onsupporting staff on each element of the app family”.Oxford and Cherwell College: “With a view to technological advances, it was recognised that we neededto move with requirements of 24/7 access. Students’ priorities to learn are drivers of change, and withthis in mind the decisions to move to Cloud provision was needed. The IT team were the most reluctantto change and needed to be convinced of the need to move services with greater accessibility. Althoughdata security is still very important, IT Services need to recognise that the Cloud facilities are essentialfor change”.South Devon College: “To update software we have done these during half term so as not disruptteaching”.Return on investmentSome colleges have stated that it is too early to identify savings. Others have identified significantspecific and general savings from server, licence and internal application costs. Other savings areidentified in saving teaching and technical staff costs. General gains through technology-influencedretention of learners are also cited.Barnsley College: “It is too early to provide hard facts in the cost saving, but server and external hosting,text messaging and other communicating systems costs will all be reduced or removed, and we willevaluate and review requirements during 2013/14”.Blackburn College: “The College estimates that through further investment the VDI service will savethe College £150,000 over 3 years. Students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities are currentlyloaned laptops to access MindView until they receive their Disabled Student Allowance. The laptops canbe loaned out up to 4 months each time and due to demand there is a waiting list. The current laptopsare of considerable age and are all due for replacement. The VDI service will enable students to accessMindView, without the need of a laptop, and therefore will save the College £25,000. In addition wheneach laptop is returned it must be cleaned andreimaged in line with changes to core applications i.e.windows, ant virus etc. This will save the College £1,058.40 in staff time. There are also operationaldifficulties encountered in retrieving laptops and the costs incurred through non returned items(approximately two laptops per year = £2,500) and the associated small claims procedures”.
7Case StudyLeeds City College: “If the College progresses with the solution across other departments, anticipatedsavings of over £100,000 could be achieved with a reduction in hardware capital expenditure”.North East Worcestershire College:” Reduction in server maintenance and overheads throughreduction in reliance on on-site storage and email servers potential reduction in printing costs throughcollaboration tools (students using forms for surveys certainly have reduced the amount of printingneeded)”.Oxford and Cherwell College: “Staff time - in re-designing the curriculum, staff have identifiedthe benefits of saving demonstration time, and using that time to teach and test knowledge andunderstanding”.South Devon College: “No cost savings but more learners at remote centres have now got access tosoftware”.Lessons LearnedBarnsley College: “We would have liked the project aligned with the launch of office 365 and ended inSeptember 2013”.North East Worcestershire College: “We would have worked on understanding the training needsrequired to fully grasp the tool sets and features available. Full roll out to everyone was ambitious, butas more people make use of the tools, more are moving towards the platform”.Oxford and Cherwell College: ”We would have Identified the compatibility of the platform to currentcollege platforms. We would have ensured that all functionality of the system, promised by the salesteam, is operational”