Working in the cloud. You might have seen the meme “There is no cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer.” But is it? What does it really mean to work ‘in the cloud’? This week we’ll explore some of the cloud-based options for both personal and professional use.
Credit: Nicole Beauchamp
You can read more about working in the cloud in ‘More Detail’ below, then take a look at the activities under ‘Try’ and finally, share your thoughts and comments with us under ‘Share’.
View this reading list on a personal Google Doc (5 – 10 minutes).
For CDU staff: explore CDU Connect and Yammer. Join the 23 Things group, and any others that interest you (15 – 30 minutes).
Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Many people consider the cloud simply as a place to store files or images somewhere else, usually because the device they are using has limited capacity, or because they want to share them with others. You might have used Dropbox or Google Drive or other services in this way. Griffith (2016) explains: “In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.”
Some of the more common examples of cloud computing include Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Office Online, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive and Dropbox. So, what are some of the benefits and the risks of cloud computing?
Benefits (note: not all systems have all capabilities)
Access to files from any device, anywhere
Easy sharing of files
Option to set permissions for different people: view only or edit
Simultaneous editing by multiple users
File synching across devices
Offline access to files
Increased storage capacity
Increases participation opportunities for remote and working from home colleagues
Version history available.
Disadvantages and Risks
Cloud-based applications may have limited features compared to desktop version
May not support all file types
No control of system outages
Costs of storage: some services provide a limited capacity free of charge, with additional monthly fees for extra storage
Security: it’s common to have security software installed on a computer, however many people don’t extend that to their mobile devices
Staff at CDU have access to both SharePoint and OneDrive, with each used for different purposes. OneDrive is personal and made for individuals to share files with others: a staff member can create a file and allow others access to view and/or edit. The individual determines who has access to the file and what they can do with it. SharePoint file repositories are managed by the organisation, with permissions set at various levels determining who can access particular items. As an example, CDU VET Lecturers use SharePoint to access VET Resources and Forms (templates) and to store and access completed and validated teaching resources. Through the organisation wide SharePoint, staff can also access Yammer, the enterprise social network helping to build communities of interest to bring people together around shared topics, interests, or areas of practice. You might like to look for and join the 23 Things group.
Microsoft OneDrive is available to all CDU staff and students, and this 1 minute video gives a brief introduction.
Additionally, there are more introductory and advanced user videos available through LinkedIn Learning (accessed via the Portal) and YouTube.
The 1 Minute CPD website hosts a suite of (1 minute) videos covering many of the tools contained with Google Drive, including Slides, Docs, Sheets, Chrome and Forms. With these applications you can create and share documents, spreadsheets, a range of forms and screencasts; storing, then sharing them through your own Google Drive account.
However, there are a few things to consider before sharing information to a cloud-based server:
Do the files contain any sensitive information?
Are the files yours to share, or do you have permission to share?
Who will have access to the files, and what level of access?
How long will the files be stored in a cloud-based service?
With that in mind, try some of the activities above.
Share your tips on working in the cloud. What services do you use and why? What things do you consider? What other resources have you found helpful?