The cloud is not perfect. We felt it is important to examine the downside of cloud computing as well as the benefits. Please watch the following YouTube video that explains some of the problems with using the cloud, what to watch for, and how to manage the possible negative effects it might have on your organization. After you view the video please add a comment regarding additional risks to cloud computing, reasons why you may decide to not use it, or other comments about the downside of using the cloud for your  learning management system.


Video Reference:
BlueLockLLC. (2010, June 23). The Darkside to Cloud Computing. Retrieved on June 4, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnCRs9dIHc4
 


Comments

Ronna
06/18/2012 9:37am

My current LMS feels like home; it is rife with our college's logo and its colours. It also feels safe. I know that my content is secure - our IT folks are quick to inform us if there has been a breach and they give us plenty of notice if service is required. Maybe I am wrong but I imagine a cloud LMS that offers fewer choices akin to that of say setting up a blog?

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Allan
06/19/2012 9:28pm

Ronna,

Great point - there are certain institutions that do offer such great IT services. I do see a drawback with those institutions that do not have the luxury of technology support. Especially in smaller colleges, high schools, or elementary schools. I do see the advantages of blogs, wikis, and email (such as Gmail) that utilizes the cloud. It's a double edged sword sometimes.

Allan

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Sherman
06/21/2012 2:28pm

Hi Ronna,

I think if extra precaution is taken to educate students before they are immersed into cloud, and they are warned of possible vulnerability, that would make implementing blogs, wikis and emails a lot safer. Let's face it, cloud is a pretty powerful tool and we cannot avoid them. Rather, actively looking for solutions to identified risks would be more ideal.

Sherman

Dennis Pratt
06/18/2012 3:18pm

Ronna;

That is how I see it as well. Ideally, we have a secure, safe, environment free of viruses and online predators to teach our students. We are lucky as we use a student portal that is closely monitored by our IT department and for the most part runs pretty well for our needs. Our district has chosen Google to run our portal and we have been quite happy as more and more schools get on board. Google is a plus for me as it runs the same the the free Google service I get on the open internet.

Dennis

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Deborah
06/18/2012 6:41pm

While using the cloud sounds like a great idea, I do have some serious reservations about it. First of all, you are likely dealing with a provider who is offering multi-tenant services to your business and many others. We only have to look to the hack that occurred last year with the marketing firm, Epsilon that impacted companies such as Air Miles, Hilton, and Marriott, to realize how vulnerable our information is once a hacker gets in.

Secondly, it is unlikely that everyone using the cloud provider is in the same industry and is subject to the same regulations. A decision by a cloud provider to change something could mean a company is suddenly non-compliant, and would they even be notified about the change?

I have doubts about the one-size-fits-all approach of cloud computing. I think information is far too valuable to be put at risk.

Deborah

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Tim
06/18/2012 9:14pm

Deborah:

You bring up some very relevant and sensitive issues surrounding the dark side of cloud computing. Considering this is a industry still in its infancy and, like any industry going through a maturation process, will work out some of these risks both through regulatory control and more robust security technology? Think of the fear surrounding broadband internet where computers were online 24/7/365 and the associated security issues. Now broadband is the norm and very few question the need for it.

You express doubts about the one-size-fits all approach of cloud computing. Interestingly this is one of the concepts that actually drives cloud computing. Since the use of your own servers is limited by speed, size and IT staff expertise, cloud computing opens up the possibilities. An institution bound to a Windows server running a Blackboard LMS now has options of running Linux and Moodle as well.

Tim

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Deborah
06/19/2012 5:46am

Thanks, Tim. I agree with you about the possibilities for all types of businesses to be on the same cloud and share the cost of doing so. My comment about the one-size-fits all approach really focuses on the unique compliance aspects of each industry that may be using the cloud. The reputation risk associated with being non-compliant could be huge and very difficult to recover from if a significant problem is found.

Deborah

Donna
06/24/2012 7:27pm

Hello Deborah,

I totally agree with what you posted. Security would be my biggest concern with Cloud. If big companies such as Air Miles and the Hilton were hacked into, you would think that us smaller guys would be easier game.

I'm curious to know whether banks could ever use this system.

Donna

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06/19/2012 2:11am

A major downside that I see is loss of control. If there is a problem you will not be able to get your IT people to fix it as you would when it was server based. You are at the mercy of the cloud to ensure it is fixed. The acceptable service agreement with the cloud based service may not be as reactive as you would want it to be. Depending on the your business problems can cost money or just create slowdowns for the users.

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gillian
06/22/2012 9:18am

Hi Valerie,
I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. Lack of control is a frightening concept especially with those of us who are less tech saavy than others.
gillian

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Chelsea Woods
06/19/2012 7:14am

It seems to me that the dark side of cloud computing is similar to the dark side of any LMS. Paper files in a metal filing cabinet can be hacked as easily as a cloud based system. The old paper memo system when we each had a pigeon hole could be abused with spam or memos altered (corrupted) as easily as we can send spam via email (actually, depending on our tech skill, the paper system could be deemed easier to 'hack'). As an example of hacking the paper memo system, 12 years ago a colleague altered a memo about a staff party, saying that it had a new 'western' theme. 2 people showed up to the party in western outfits (cowboy hats and boots) because they didn't realize it was a hack.

As I develop the use of cloud resources, both hosted on our school servers and hosted externally (ie. Google), I will continue to develop appropriate use, awareness of privacy, and make careful decisions based on importance of access. For example, we use Google Docs for collaborative work, but we do not use gmail, instead we use Outlook so that we can host our data on our own server.

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Tim
06/19/2012 12:04pm

Hi Chelsea:

I like your analogy of risk in comparing digital information hacking to paper-based information hacking. I do think, however, that the hacking of cloud based servers has the potential of deeper and more far-reaching consequences. We all do our best to control and guard our personal information but allowing this information to exist on some unknown computer in an unknown place, even if its just our name, email address and password, we feel we lack control. It is becoming more and more apparent that our online social profile may be more important than our "real-life" one. Anyone with access to our personal information could easily hurt our online profile and this is difficult to undo.

Tim

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Shawn Harris
06/19/2012 4:34pm

While cloud computing and storage is a great innovation in the field of computing, there are certain things that we definitely need to be cautious about too. Users should make contingencies should the service be terminated abruptly. One of the main concerns about cloud computing are security and privacy. Users might not be comfortable handing over their data to a third party. This is an even greater concern when it comes to companies that wish to keep their sensitive information on cloud servers. While most service vendors would ensure that their servers are kept free from viral infection and malware, it is still a concern considering the fact that a number of users from around the world are accessing the server.

Privacy is another issue with cloud servers. Ensuring that a client’s data is not accessed by any unauthorized users is of great importance for any cloud service. Therefore we need to be cognizant of the fact that it is not entirely safe!

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Helen DW
06/19/2012 6:03pm

Shawn, you state that we need to be cognizant that our personal data is not entirely safe when sharing information with cloud-based systems. This is certainly a challenge for students and their parents who want to participate in an LMS that may not be physically resident within their jurisdiction. There are strict local guidelines and provincial requirements for safe and secure collection of personal information. This does not exist in a global environment. How do we ensure security and a safe learning platform for our young learners when they engage in cloud-based education?

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Marie-France Hétu
06/20/2012 5:03pm

Helloj,

Much of what was said here was abouve my understanding - the lingo used is not for newbies like myself. However, I did gather that one of the downsides of the cloud is 'hacking' - which can pose serious security issues. I know that I personally don't put secret personal information out in the cloud just for that reason. ANything I put out there is pretty harmless stuff that most poeple would not be interested in stealing. What really got me thinking from their conversation is how some 'fake' companies or cloud providers can actually gather much information from 'clients' and then use this information in a malicious way . . . that is scary! I think I will stick to the Cloud entities that are popular and have a reputation or important partners backing them up.

Marie-France

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Tim
06/20/2012 7:43pm

Hi Marie-France

Thanks for your comments. Yes, the video is a bit technical but it seems you got the gist of it. You say "I think I will stick to the Cloud entities that are popular and have a reputation or important partners backing them up." The question is, who are these Cloud entities? Would Google be on that list? Google collects an enormous amount of information on your browsing habits that it uses to push specific advertising. Is this "malicious" use of "personal" information? Google has also been involved in some more questionable data collection. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/technology/google-engineer-told-others-of-data-collection-fcc-report-reveals.html for instance. I think we need to guard our personal information no matter what we do or access online.

Tim

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Marie-France Hétu
06/21/2012 3:50pm

Hello Tim,

Good point. I have noticed that many 'cloud' entities use browsing habits to push advertising. I think these methods should clearly be indicated in the agreements - which they are not. I do find that this type of practice is dishonest, but I don't feel that my information is compromised in other ways. I am even more afraid of cloud entities that would steal the information I store.

Perhaps there is no real way to totally protect oneself, but at least publicly protesting what Google is doinf for example could be enough to stop them from doing it. This type of information can spread amongst millions of users in days and leave the company embarassed enough to change its practices . . . at least I hope.

Look at FaceBook and the way they were holding on to personal information, eventually they had to back down on their policy. We are the consumers of these products after all - so we do have collective power to change things I suppose.

Marie-France

Steve
06/24/2012 5:02pm

Hi Marie-France,

You make an excellent point about our privacy regarding browsing habits. Just wondered if you have a Save-On card. About 6 years ago, Save-On phoned me to ask if I would be upset if they discontinued a brand that I had bought in the past. Some marketers are talking about using facial recognition software and the information collected on us in order to use our preferences to serve more relevant advertising on digital billboards as we pass them. Shocking? And potentially embarrassing!

Cheers, Steve

Bridget
06/21/2012 1:53pm

I understood a good part of what was said but there was a lot that was also out of my area of expertise. It actually made me think about all of the background work that goes in order to keep accounts etc secure. I don't put anything in the cloud that is personal...except I suppose that ordering online puts my CC # out there. Facebook, Google they all collect information and more than we probably expect.
Most of what we put in the cloud in education would not be devastating if it was shared so I don't really worry too much about it. If I was in a different industry I might feel differently and it might be more of an everyday concern.
Bridget

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Sherman Lee
06/21/2012 2:55pm

I am a very optimistic person and see a lot of advantage in cloud, but working in a business environment dealing with a mountain of confidential information I also know that implementation of cloud is not as simple as their advertised advantages. As stated in the video, vulnerability is one of the greatest concern for my company. Even with password protected areas, it is not entirely trusted. In one other video where it was mentioned that 'no IT department' is needed, but I was highly skeptical of that even before I watched this section. User education is very important to help prevent half of the problem, but regardless, a support network is needed when people run into trouble. With so many employees, just having the support from cloud is not possible, so I would have to say internal support is still needed. Truly, I do not think cloud would ever be at the point where it would be able to fulfill the corporate needs. However, I guess we could always leverage on the power of cloud for less sensitive portion of our learning programs.

Sherman

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gillian
06/22/2012 9:18am

Unfortunately I was unable to view the video you posted on the page. I did, however, enjoy the comments and discussion that followed.
gillian

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Dennis
06/22/2012 8:39pm

Gillian;

You can copy and paste the following URL into your browser for the YouTube clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnCRs9dIHc4&feature=player_embedded

Enjoy!

Dennis

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Danielle
06/23/2012 2:54am

Many of those who are ignorant to cloud computing security issues willingly give up personal information online. When security is breached and this information is used against an individual or group, what is the next step in resolving the problem? It would be a little more complicated than simply calling one's local police. Risk management by cloud providers needs to be swift, efficient and above all else, transparent to ensure the ignorant are educated in avoiding disaster.

Danielle

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marie-france Hétu
06/24/2012 6:31am

Hello Danielle,

Most cloud LMS ask for personal information now, it is impossible to join otherwise. So it is hard to know to whom it is safe to give up your name and e-mail even. I agree that cloud providers should really take this seriously - their reputation depends on their integrity. I do believe that as 'users' we have a lot to say about how some cloud providers breach the privacy rules. I believe they need to be publicly denounced so others are warned and so the providers change their ways or go out of business.

Marie-France

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Colin
06/23/2012 1:42pm

Cloud access requires internet. About four years ago, our school board's internet was down for a few weeks. Not too fun for students and teachers in computer labs.

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Dennis
06/23/2012 8:44pm

Colin;

Great point! I take internet access for granted now that I am used to having it all the time. If, or when, it is interrupted what would my lesson look like? I usually don't plan a backup lesson in case technology is not working and maybe I should.

Dennis

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Steve
06/24/2012 4:36pm

Hi Colin and Dennis,

I tried posting this to Colin's comment, but it wouldn't submit the post, so I am replying to Dennis' post. Hope you don't mind Dennis.

You make an excellent point, especially if the internet is down for weeks. On the other hand, more and more online applications are allowing you to interact with the program offline...for instance, in Cacoo, I can edit my mind map without being connected to the internet, it’s only a problem if I want to save or refresh the application. In our school, the internet goes down but usually for less than an hour making this affordance beneficial. I believe a major reason why cloud applications created this ability is due to mobile devices that connect and disconnect based on their proximity to a wireless router. I understand that this doesn’t help you (sorry about your situation), but schools in our area can really benefit since they don’t have the same long lasting problem.

Cheers, Steve

Steve
06/24/2012 4:33pm

Hi Colin,

You make an excellent point, especially if the internet is down for weeks. On the other hand, more and more online applications are allowing you to interact with the program offline...for instance, in Cacoo, I can edit my mind map without being connected to the internet, it’s only a problem if I want to save or refresh the application. In our school, the internet goes down but usually for less than an hour making this affordance beneficial. I believe a major reason why cloud applications created this ability is due to mobile devices that connect and disconnect based on their proximity to a wireless router. I understand that this doesn’t help you (sorry about your situation), but schools in our area can really benefit since they don’t have the same long lasting problem.

Cheers, Steve

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Steve
06/24/2012 4:35pm

Hi Colin,

You make an excellent point, especially if the internet is down for weeks. On the other hand, more and more online applications are allowing you to interact with the program offline...for instance, in Cacoo, I can edit my mind map without being connected to the internet, it’s only a problem if I want to save or refresh the application. In our school, the internet goes down but usually for less than an hour making this affordance beneficial. I believe a major reason why cloud applications created this ability is due to mobile devices that connect and disconnect based on their proximity to a wireless router. I understand that this doesn’t help you (sorry about your situation), but schools in our area can really benefit since they don’t have the same long lasting problem.

Cheers, Steve

Reply
Steve
06/24/2012 4:18pm

For an area with so many upsides, there are probably equally as many downsides. My colleagues have mentioned many of the downsides from a technical and privacy perspective. But, one of the areas that I hadn’t heard mentioned in the posts is the copyright exemption for copying copyright materials within an educational institution. For instance, if you use a copyrighted image on a school’s LMS system, the Copyright Act appears to except you and your students from liability. However, if the same image is posted in the cloud, say in a blog, the protection appears to be void.

More and more universities, and potentially K-12 schools are considering going away from LMS and using cloud computing. From an administrative point of view, this is cheaper and allows teachers to find and use applications that are ideal for their learning context. In fact, creative and unique applications of these online tools in specific learning contexts have the potential to greatly improve learning and teaching environments.

On the flip side, many teachers lack knowledge and comfort with these various tools. This prevents institutions from permanently switching from the more expensive LMS models to inexpensive and often free applications on the web. Even ETEC 511 would be impossible for most teachers due to the need to create complex information pipes to stream students’ blogs into one area. Unfortunately, until everyone switches, the universities must bear the set costs of running an expensive LMS system making it difficult to offer funding to teachers wanting to buy access to specific online applications.

Some of my colleagues also mentioned issues relating to troubleshooting problems or having a system or internet go down. These are valid concerns and can be extended to include free cloud ware that becomes pay cloud ware overnight resulting in a loss of access to products created on their server. Of course, for the low monthly cost of $00.00, you can get this access back, but this is not an option for many students or graduates.

Overall, I think cloud computing applied by aware consumers can provide wonderful and constantly evolving affordances that LMS and expensive software have trouble matching. But remember the saying “buyer (user) beware”!

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Dennis
06/25/2012 7:10pm

Concluding Remarks

We appreciate the honest feedback in regards to the hesitation behind using cloud-based learning. Most of us seem to feel comfortable using the cloud for personal use but are cautious about posting personal information online as it may be used inappropriately, bought, sold, or published to unintended eyes.

For the most part, we seem to be happy with the support cloud computing companies give to their programs, but few hesitate to use them due to the lack of personal assistance in case a problem arises. We agree that in most cases, cloud-based learning management systems can save our organizations money and it is nice to be able to access them from any internet connection. Some companies are even working on systems that allow us to work offline in case of a break in internet connection, which was a concern that arose.

Through proper education and online safety awareness, we can use the cloud in our classrooms for a number of daily tasks in a secure and safe environment. We were cautioned to be aware of where our information is being stored as different countries have their own laws in place that set the degree of allowance to that information. As educators we need to be aware of the benefits of cloud computing as well as how to protect our students from problems they may face when working online. We appreciate the discussion and hope that we are all a little more aware of the dark side to cloud computing.

Dennis, Jon, Leonora, Kenton and Tim

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10/10/2012 2:10am

I take internet access for granted now that I am used to having it all the time.that really provides the good information abut the learning.

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04/12/2013 6:03am

Cloud hosting has gained a stronger standing in the cloud computing world thanks to the active participation of enterprises in recent years. The cloud’s success lies in its potential to significantly impact IT costs through direct costs savings, save time in development and deployment, and to save resource allocation overheads.

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