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Running head: CLOUD COMPUTING 1

Literature Review: Cloud Computing

Harrison Boltin, Monica Ijeoma, Jason Lauer, Barbara Twardowski

EDUC 639

Dr. Jennifer Courduff

Liberty University


Cloud computing is being increasingly used for personal and professional use. The cost savings

of using cloud services can greatly benefit those in education. The budget constraints, security,

and privacy issues are discussed, and the potential ethical issues addressed. As for the classroom,

the benefits are clear to those who are technology savvy and barriers that other teachers perceive

are necessary to overcome for cloud computing to be fully accepted into middle and high


Keywords: cloud computing, cloud services, ethics, privacy, security, education.

Literature Review: Cloud Computing

Definition and Cost of Cloud Computing


Cloud-computing is a buzzword in technological circles today, though it seems as it

increasingly comes up in conversations, the definition becomes increasingly murkier. The

cloud without a doubt refers to the Internet, but computing can be and has been defined as an

architecture, a platform, an operating system, or even a service (Bowers, 2011). The literature

surrounding cloud-computing dividedly gave either a very narrow definition of cloud-computing,

or a much more ambiguous one. Cloud-computing is either viewed as virtual servers available

over the Internet or it is any form of technological consumption that takes place outside the

firewall, including more traditional forms of storage and outsourcing. In an even broader sense,

cloud computing is using the Internet to perform tasks on computers (Andriole, 2010). All

definitions indicate that cloud computing does not reside on desktops, but rather resides on a

web-based server.

Cloud computing meets a huge need in the IT world of being on-demand to increase

storage space and allow for greater communication and access to information (Andriole, 2010).

There are three main types of services that fall under the term cloud computing- Software-as-a-

Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). The

Software-as-a-Service are services such as GoogleTM Apps and DropboxTM. SaaS decreases the

need for IT staff because it moves the managing and deployment of the service to third-party

providers. This makes it the most cost effective for customers and providers (Bowers, 2010). The

Platform-as-a-Service states that it [d]elivers development environments as a service.

Customers build their own applications that run on the provider's infrastructure, which are then

delivered to users via the Internet from the provider's servers (Bowers, 2010). These are

services such as ApprendaTM. And the final service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service states that [a]n

organization outsources the hardware used to support operations, including storage, hardware,

servers, and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is

responsible for housing, operating, and maintaining it. The client typically pays on a per-use

basis (Bowers, 2010). These are services such as AmazonTM Web Services and MicrosoftTM

Azure. IaaS provide users with direct access to their storage and servers. It is the most flexible

cloud computing model and allows for automated deployment of servers, processing power,

storage, and networking.

Cloud computing can be used in a variety of ways, in part because of its affordability.

Cloud computing services can easily be tailored to the amount that a user needs. Everything

about a cloud-computing service is managed by a provider, meaning that the user only needs to

have their Internet and their device rather than a physical service and other data storage. Services

can be subscription based and can be pay-per-use (Knorr, 2010). Because of the affordability, a

lot of fields can benefit from the use of cloud computing. In the medical field, doctors rely

heavily on relaying information in order to correctly treat a patient. In a cloud computing

environment, patient data, specifically images, could more easily be stored and accessed.

Pharmacies are already implementing cloud computing in their research and development sectors

to share and store information, but they are now using it to better facilitate work done for clinical

trials (Andriole, 2010).

Ethics and Privacy Concerning Cloud Computing

Ethics and Privacy

With the rapid growth and emergence of cloud computing, many institutions at all levels

are moving from a concrete hardware data storage platform, to a hybrid, or all cloud based

infrastructure. A hybrid storage based system consist of both physical hardware and cloud based

storage. The hybrid storage infrastructure is not to be confused with the hybrid cloud setup in

which institutions can hold a portion of the data control (Kouatli, 2014).

Many may understand the cloud as one big open online storage area. In fact, there are actually

different forms of the cloud. Kouatli (2014) goes on to explain the various forms of cloud

storage available. Cloud storage platforms such as public, private, hybrid, and infrastructure are

described in detail as to their differences. Even though all these various forms of cloud storage

are available in cloud computing, a couple big issues remain a concern, ethics and privacy.

Ethics relates to human conduct when it comes to right and wrong, good or bad, and the

overall motives of a person (, n.d.). Ethics in cloud computing has to do with the

trust which has to be instilled in the company who is housing your data. Educational institutions

are providing a large number of individuals with the opportunity to use technology. Along with

this technology comes the large files of any created content. With the low cost and easy access

to cloud based data, educational institutions are taking advantage of this opportunity (de Bruin &

Floridi, 2016). Educational institutions most often do not have large budgets to accommodate all

the latest and greatest technologies. For this reason alone, when an opportunity such as free

cloud storage arrives, they should take advantage of the resources. There is no longer a need for

purchasing fancy software, hard drives, or even data servers (de Bruin & Floridi, 2016). The one

important factor educational institutions need to understand when using cloud based storage is

they are putting the data of their employees and students at risk. Cloud based storage companies

need to be ethically sound and provide their customers with honest, trustworthy, fair practices

(Whitehouse et al., 2015).

The literature researched suggests there are some serious risks when choosing to store

any data in the cloud. Although there are different forms of cloud storage and cloud computing,

ultimately any data stored in the cloud could be compromised at any moment. Focusing on the

ethical standpoint, it is ultimately the cloud companys responsibility to protect the data of its

clients. Ethical standpoints can come from a couple different areas, the employees of the

company, or even outside threats which main goal is to steal or harm data. Restricting

employees from certain areas of data access could prevent them from crossing ethical boundaries

(Kouatli, 2014).

Under the umbrella of ethics, and specifically the legal side, one article particularly

delved into legal privacy issues which were concerning. The legal concerns were with Google

apps for education. Google has been around for quite some time and has one of the biggest

products in school today with their Google apps for education suite. Google is such a large

company which is usually one of the companies who develop and implement new technologies.

With this being the case, Google most of the time does not worry about legal issues when they

first release something (Lindh & Nolin, 2016). If Google were to worry about the new

technologies they develop crossing some kind of legal line, they would not be able to develop

anything new (Lindh & Nolin, 2016). The article goes on to state the legal difficulties Google

had with their Apps for Education program. Supposedly Google had somewhere in their privacy

statement where they could data mine student emails to target advertising (Lindh & Nolin, 2016).

This is a clear example of the non-ethical role Google has played in the early adoption of cloud

computing such as Google Apps for Education.


The ethical standpoint of the researched articles focused mainly on the companies which

oversaw the cloud computing software. Although they should have a certain ethical standard

they need to live up to, ultimately their job is to protect the privacy of the information housed in

their care. Cloud computing is becoming such a big part of technology, there are millions of

users throughout the world.

User Data

A major focus in the researched articles is the privacy of user data. Going back to the

information about Google, they claimed the collection of user data was to help refine the users

algorithmic identity (Lindh & Nolin, 2016). These identities then somehow would become

property owned by Google and used commercially, but not sold to interested third parties (Lindh

& Nolin, 2016).

According to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technologies they

have described a definition of cloud computing which includes a portion labeled, shared pool

(Ghorbel, Ghorbel, & Jmaiel, 2017). This shared pool is a difficult piece to incorporate into a

definition when you are discussing private user data. The shared pool is referring to computing

resources such as networks, servers, storage, applications and services (Ghorbel et al., 2017).

When discussing privacy of user data, it is not comforting to know your data will be bounced

around and shared between networks, servers, certain storage, applications, and services when

using cloud computing technologies.


When discussing the act of privacy in cloud computing, most of the research had a

major focus on security. The whole premise in having an effective cloud based system is to have

the trust of the users and provide them with the best security to protect their data. In the world of

cloud computing there are two forms of security, data processing security, and data storage

security (Kamesh & Sakthi Priya, 2014). Data processing security focuses on the protecting the

privacy of the data while it travels around in the virtual platform (Kamesh & Sakthi Priya, 2014).

During the processing of the data a security technique known as encryption takes place to ensure

privacy (Ghorbel et al., 2017). When the user data needs to be stored, it is done so by way of a

data center, this is where the data storage security takes place (Kamesh & Sakthi Priya, 2014).

Focusing on educational institutions and cloud computing, the majority of the users are

going to be students. Even though students in this day and age have been around electronics and

technology for a majority of their lives, they are still somewhat aware of the risks with cloud

computing (Arpaci, Kilicer, & Bardakci, 2015). Companies need to be aware of the fact students

are still understanding the possible risks with cloud computing and the information they put out

for the world (Arpaci et al., 2015). If students do not have a sense of strong security for any

given cloud computing based system or program, the likelihood of them utilizing the technology

is low (Arpaci et al., 2015).

Cloud Computing in the Classroom

This section focuses on three sections: budget, benefits, and barriers related to cloud computing

in education. The budget section summarizes the cost effectiveness of cloud computing. In the

benefits section the positive points and perspectives are discussed, followed by the barriers that

must be addressed before moving forward with cloud computing acceptance in education.


Cloud computing can work on either Macs or PCs, is compatible with many existing

systems, and is are therefore very economical. Much of the literature used for this review points

out the cost savings involved with cloud computing over traditional program purchasing, yet few

went in depth reviewing the potential to save money. Stein, Ware, Laboy, and Schaffer (2013)

pointed out that there are many software choices in the cloud that will extend the life of the

current machinery, as well as allow for more affordable replacement computers in the future.

Since replacing hardware can be a challenge for some schools, being able to use what they have

is a great boon. Karabayeva (2016) points out that many universities outside of the United States

are already utilizing the cloud computing space for developing programs and research due to the

affordability of the platform.

Pierce and Cleary (2016) took into consideration the entire structure of a school districts

technology program, from infrastructure and setup through teacher and student use. They point

out that there is always the issue of money when it comes to the delivery of services and yet

there is a growing expectation that schools have Internet and computer access. They conclude

that cloud services are a promising way to lower costs. Yet, cost is not the only consideration

schools must consider, there must be an academic benefit. While there is still a lot of work to be

done to bring cloud computing into our schools, current studies are showing primarily positive

results if we do.


Cloud computing benefits are obvious when used to foster activities that include

collaboration, interaction, and monitoring student progress (Gutirrez-Carren, Daradoumis, &

Jorba, 2015). This is echoed when Pierce and Cleary stated that when students use [the]

Internet for educational enhancement they show more academic achievement than those

students who do not or are unable to use the Internet (2016, p 872). This is often shown as a

students computer literacy skills.


The literature tends to agree that technology just for the sake of technology is not an

answer, but appropriate use of technology to aid in teaching can be greatly beneficial. The

perceived role of technology in education is just for reinforcement (Donna & Miller, 2016;

Rowe, Bozalek, & Frantz, 2013). The software must be carefully chosen and applied for

academic benefit, and considered very carefully (Stein, Ware, Laboy, & Schaffer, 2013). Cloud

computing opens the necessity to develop different pedagogy methods, such as a higher focus on

authentic learning tasks (Rowe, Bozalek, & Frantz, 2013). Although Rowe, Bozalek and Frantz

(2013) focuses on university applications their work can easily translate to authentic assessments

within a K-12 framework, specifically in middle and high school. Good pedagogy also involves

individualizing education to better suit the needs of all learners. Deeper Learning Through

Technology by Halla (2015) explains several ways to integrate and individualize instruction for

students. Pierce and Cleary (2016) mention increased individualization as well as societal

returns, since many future jobs will require computer literacy. This supports Arapacis (2016)

assertion that the perceived usefulness of technology is partly due to common usage. The more

students see that cloud computing is part of daily life, the more likely they will see learning the

skills involved as having value.

A major benefit to cloud computing is the ease of collaboration across distances. There is

a need for students to understand that collaboration on the cloud is an essential part of our

modern society, especially in scientific endeavors. It is especially critical for teaching the

students scientific literacy and the critical role technology plays in the sciences (Donna & Miller,

2013). Within foreign language learning there is potential to use the collaborative functionality of

cloud computing. Karabayeva (2016) explains the benefits that are possible if cloud computing

could be utilized by multiple colleges collaborating, and went so far as to call for the dismissal of

teachers not willing to work with this new paradigm. Even K-12 can learn from this exploration;

this can mean collaboration with other schools and potentially other school districts within the K-

12 system.

Teachers also find benefits in using cloud computing since it can make it easier to help

students by being able to monitor students and adjust as necessary (Jihong, Caiping, &

Huazhong, 2015). The use of cloud computing applications merged with a learning management

system can lower cognitive load, helping students learn the platform quicker as well as get their

focus onto the content quicker (Gutirrez-Carren, Daradoumis, & Jorba, 2015).


There are two main categories of barriers: first order barriers deal with the service and

devices available and the second order barriers are those of teacher pedagogy concerns and

perceptions. (Donna & Miller, 2016). Both types of barriers need to be addressed within

education to make cloud computing and other technology more fully integrated into our school


First order barriers are often dealing with the ideas of access to devices in and out of

school, time it takes to teach the skill, availability in and out of school, and the perception that

cloud applications are inferior to other software available, such as a cloud application compared

to Microsoft Excel (Donna & Miller, 2016). Many of the first order barriers are being

overcome as more exemplars of how to effectively use technology are presented (Pierce &

Cleary, 2016). The first order barriers of budget constraints were addressed in a prior section.

Second order barriers are a greater concern, since they involve the teacher perceptions of

cloud computer use. Many educators worry about cloud computing because they perceive that

the students are not getting appropriate skills in working with people, and that cheating is easier.

For the teachers, they find the technology to not being content-specific enough, that the group

dynamics are not obvious, and that it requires altering classroom management techniques.

(Donna & Miller 2016). Donna and Miller also highlight concerns of pre-service teachers that

there is no value in cloud computing collaboration within the sciences. There is a definite need

for methods instructors [to] provide explicit experiences in the role that technology plays in

modern scientific collaboration (Donna & Miller 2016, p 14)

Those looking to implement technology at any level of education must understand that

what a teacher values and plan accordingly (Donna & Miller, 2016; Gutirrez-Carren,

Daradoumis, & Jorba, 2015). In some cases, the teacher does not automatically see the value of

the technology being offered and resists adding it to their class because they need additional

guidance to help them change their habits, since people have a difficult time changing

(Karabayeva, 2016; Stein, et al., 2013; Rowe, Bozalek, & Frantz. 2013). If this goes on long

enough, Karabayeva (2016) goes one step further by suggesting that those resistant to change be



Cloud computing has brought about change in the way data, software and applications are

stored and retrieved. It has allowed institutions to cut cost and has sparked conversations about

the ethical use of open resources. Research into cloud computing has attempted to address the

questions that have arisen in the education as to its usefulness in classroom. This review of the

literature has found research which addresses some of the issues and questions in education

asked of personnel charged with the task of making recommendations to implement, maintain

and upgrade software and hardware at their institutions.

The article titled, Improving K-12 Pedagogy via A Cloud Designed for Education,

reviewed a case study conducted by North Carolina State University (NCSU) called, Scaling Up

STEM Learning with the VCL (Virtual Computing Lab). The VCL is a cloud designed

specifically for education by the university in 2004. The intent of this case study has a dual

purpose; first to improve the mathematical (specifically geometry and algebra) skills of high

school students who attended schools in the rural areas of North Carolina. Second, to shed light

on the possible benefits gained by public schools and the challenges they could face when

adopting cloud computing. The premise of this study was to determine the effect cloud

computing had on the students skills and motivation for higher level math. Did it help in

increasing or igniting interest in a STEM focused discipline; which requires comprehension of

the two for mentioned courses (Stein, Ware, Laboy, & Schaffer, 2013).

The participants in this study where students in the 9th and 10th grades. Each student was

given a Laptop to be used during school hours along with the ability to connect to broadband

Internet when they were inside the buildings located on campus. The study discussed the

following as benefits and challenges to K-12 education, they strongly suggest as guidelines

which should be addressed when considering implementing cloud computing in the education

arena: Diversity of software applications; Software license cost savings; Security; Extending

machine life; Availability of broadband connectivity outside of school; Affordability of class

time delivery; Cultural vs. technical barrier. Although the case study was mentioned throughout

the article the result of the expected outcome of the students involved was not revealed which

leads the reader to a decision that the research was inconclusive and therefore should warrant

further studies.

Other articles chosen for this review were either quantitative or qualitative research. The

research conducted in the article, Using Google Drive to facilitate a blended approach to

authentic learning is qualitative. The study was executed in 2012 at the University of Western

Cape, South Africa. There were six participants consisting of student in their 2nd year of study,

approximately 12 sophomore students were invited to participate in the focus group. In an

attempt to create a diverse group, the students varied in age, their interaction in an online

environment and their grades range from high to low. The participants were split into two groups

which consisting of six members each. Inductive analysis was used as the method of collecting

data (Rowe, et al., 2013).

Integrating Learning Services in the Cloud: An Approach that Benefits Both Systems and

Learning, is a quantitative research study directed at answering two questions in order to

guarantee the usability and cognitive overload/load (Gutirrez-Carren, et al., 2015, pg.146) is

advantageous to students. Gutirrez-Carren, et al. (2015), used the following questions to frame

their research:

1. Is there a significant difference between the cognitive load-satisfaction of the students who learn

with an LMS integrated with Cloud services and the students that manually access to both

systems separately?
2. Is there an acceptable System Usability Scale (SUS) from students who learn following the LMS

integrated with Cloud services compared to those students that use independent systems?

Chamilo, an open source, learning management system (LMS), was used in conjunction

with the integration of Google Apps Cloud features, (Gutirrez-Carren, et al., 2015). The

participants consisted of 56 students in their third year of undergraduate studies, who are taking

Management Information Systems. The students were divided into two groups, the

experimental group which had (24 members) were required to access Chamilo and Google Apps

separately and the controlled group (32 members); while the experimental group used the two

applications simultaneously and were given instructions as to how they should conduct their

work. The experiments were carried out in three 90 minute sessions and the learning phase

consisted of a 120-minute activity which involved the use of Google Apps. Students were asked

to complete a survey with a 5-point Likert scale with indicators that examined their awareness,

challenge and engagement (Gutirrez-Carren, et al., 2015)

The research showed that there were some positive impacts; clearly there is a need for

further research with a large group and over a longer length of time. Also, the research involved

quite a bit of interaction from the student, could sometimes lead to responses that may not be as


Ding, Xiong and Liu (2015) authors of Construction of a digital learning environment based

on cloud computing, the research was conducted was quantitative. The purpose of the study was to

determine if co-construction and sharing would promote collaboration and meaningful learning

within a digital learning environment. The location of this study to place in a city call Jiujiang at the

university of the same name. The population of participants 110 teachers (primary and secondary school),

67 females and 43 males. Their ages ranged from 22 to 45. Research was conducted over a period of 19

days. The method of research was broken down into four phases: (1) preparation stage, (2) Utilization

stage, (3) Evaluations stage and (4) Data analysis stage (Ding, et al., 2015, pgs. 1373-1374). The

teachers use of data was tracked and collected on a daily basis. The literature revealed that in the short

period allotted for the study it yielded a positive result which was demonstrated through the results a

survey given to the teachers at the end of the study to gain their feedback.


The emergence of cloud computing as a viable resource for storing data has proven its

worth in the educational setting. According to the research studies reviewed for this paper,

Cloud-computing shows great promise within the classroom. The evidence suggests that the cost

savings and benefits within the classroom can greatly benefit teachers and students. Teachers,

however, will need assistance and training to overcome the barriers they perceive so the benefits

of using cloud computing applications can become apparent. With this, user data being stored in

the cloud is always going to have security risks. Cloud storage companies will need to utilize

ethical best practices to ensure proper security measures are in place for protection of institutions

user data. Institutions will need to realize that the use of cloud storage resources, put user data

and privacy at risk, and therefore will need to put their trust in companies security measures.


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