The Cloud, the Curriculum and the Classroom: A Case Study at one Public Tertiary Institution

Wednesday 1:00pm - 1:20pm, (CITRENZ 1 Room)

Over the past ten years, the cloud has transformed the way organisations use technology and transformed business around the world. For that reason, educators cannot ignore it, nor avoid making space for it in the curriculum. At the same time, it presents unique challenges, both philosophical and practical. It means educators having to ponder the profound tension between academic integrity and independence on the one hand, and industry relevance and work readiness on the other, which give rise to a number dilemmas and conflicts of interest. For instance, are educators partial to one cloud provider over another based, not on objective criteria, but the quality of provider involvement and support for the curriculum?

In terms of practical issues educators have to contend with third-party services and infrastructure, over which they have limited control, and select from a range of ever changing vendor offerings and possibilities. Moreover, educators need to also consider the financial costs of learning activities in the cloud, and how best to protect themselves, their students and their institution from the cost of learning activities in the cloud. As if this is not enough, cloud technologies, platforms and services are subject to rapid, even unpredictable change.

This paper outlines the interest of AWS in tertiary education generally based on current official documentation and communication, and how this compares with making use of the course content of the authors’ own institution at a time when no third-party content was available. They adopted AWS course materials because it means no longer having to be responsible for updating course content, including working labs and projects. In addition, with the advent of Te Pūkenga, third-party course content does offer a common unified (at least formal) curriculum that industry endorses and supports. In short, this paper considers the AWS Academy and related offerings, and documents the journey of one public tertiary institution’s use of vendor-based curriculum for the teaching of infrastructure as a service, and suggests how it can best support and enhance teaching and learning within conventional diploma and degree programmes.

Shayle Tasker (with Eduardo Correia)