Cloud Computing as a Catalyst for Change in STEM Education

Cloud Computing as a Catalyst for Change in STEM Education

John P. Sahlin, Kim Lobera
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9924-3.ch002
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Cloud computing drives value to profit-centric businesses by establishing a utility computing model, allowing companies to focus on their core business function rather than concern themselves with the “plumbing” associated with technology infrastructure. How then, can this profit-centric model be applied to improve the delivery of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education? Studies indicate that students perform far better in the workplace if their education in technical fields is relevant, current, and based on real-world scenarios (Pryor, 2014). If businesses are operating in the cloud, STEM education must follow suit. While cloud computing is traditionally associated with profit-centric organizations, this model has demonstrated benefits to non-profit and government organizations as well in terms of reduction of enterprise costs and time to delivery of new products and services. Even when a profit motive is non-existent (or at least not central to the mission of the organization), cloud computing can be a catalyst to transformative improvements in the academic community. As organizations adopt cloud computing, they must face changes in core business practices in order to take advantage of the on-demand service, rapid elasticity, and broad network access associated with cloud computing (Mell & Grance, 2011). Businesses must transform their business architecture in order to adopt this new technology architecture effectively. In the same vein, educators must consider how their business processes (i.e., pedagogy) must change in order to adopt this technology. This chapter considers cloud computing as a technology enabler for STEM education, and how it requires dramatic changes in pedagogy in order to ensure that STEM education is relevant, useful, and effective in the digital world.
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Trends in STEM education are directly related to the currents needs in society. To ensure the status of the United States, the populace must be trained to meet workforce requirements. “Current educational initiatives in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education are placing increased emphasis on the importance of engineering education for providing the skills necessary for the 21st century” (Strimel, 2014, p. 16). In response to societal needs, President Obama (2011) during a speech shared that “over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math” (State of the Union, p. 1). In reaction to educational initiatives and societal needs, movements have begun to promote the education of future generations. In fact, “the Next Generation Science Standards and the National Assessment of Educational Progress’s Technology and Engineering Literacy Assessment promote the idea that citizens need to be technology and engineering literate” (Strimel, 2014, p. 16).

For the United States to stay competitive in the world, STEM related careers must be promoted. The results of properly promoting STEM education will have positive effects in the U.S. for generations to come. The results of a study performed by Maokler and Kim’s study (2014), they found that “through student interaction with role models, mentorship programs within higher education, career-linking program with industry, and outreach programs” (p. 8) students would cultivate optimistic expectations toward STEM related fields. In fact, they found that “students with parents who work in STEM-related occupations were 1.5 times more likely to develop an outcome expectation to pursue STEM majors” (Maokler & Kim, 2014, p. 8), hence, a multi-generational strategic educational plan geared toward positive STEM experiences and promotion of STEM careers at all levels of education would greatly benefit the United States status in the future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hybrid Cloud: Cloud computing model where the responsibility for provisioning and management of infrastructure and applications is shared between the consumer and at least one third party.

Pedagogy: Education model designed for delivering content to children.

STEM: The application of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, particularly in reference to education and careers.

MOOC: Massive Open Online Course; a model for delivering education content to remote learners via low-cost (or free) access to classes.

Andragogy: Education model designed for delivering content to adult learners.

Private Cloud: Cloud computing model where the consumer provides all infrastructure and applications on premises.

Public Cloud: Cloud computing model where a third party provides consumer with remote access to all infrastructure and applications.

Community Cloud: Specialized Public Cloud offering providing industry-specific solutions; participation to Community Clouds is generally limited to member organizations.

Cloud Brokerage: Systems Engineering approach to managing multiple Cloud Computing offerings as an interrelated system of systems.

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