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This project evaluates previous Information and Communication Technology policy and practice relating to primary schools in Ireland with a view to suggesting a better way forward in light of advances in ICT, such as the availability of fast broadband services, including fibre broadband, browser-based applications and the advent of cloud computing. Cloud computing refers to the Internet as a source of both software programs and also data retention, in effect the Internet provides the software and data services via browsers to users who may remain entirely unaware of the technology at work, uncluttered by hardware or software licensing issues or problems and free to concentrate on activity and usage. More specifically, this study questions the wisdom of large spending on soon-to-be obsolete hardware and software packages in light of the fact that Internet browsers now offer access to both software applications and data storage without requiring users to have hard disks of their own for either the applications or the data. Cloud computing offers a better solution to computing in schools since it renders obsolete local hardware and software and their associated faults, repairs and licences and frees teaching staff from trying to muster technical support and allows the focus to centre on computing as an activity free from local constraints. Furthermore, cloud computing allows for anti-virus, firewall, software services and updates at a single central point, instead of at a host of individual machines and schools. Cloud computing also allows trainers who are not physically present to teach classes via collaborative sharing online using screens, interactive whiteboards and Web video conferencing, such as many medical practitioners do routinely. This latter facility releases individual teachers from the burden of singularly providing all computing instruction. This project shows that ICT infrastructure, primarily fast broadband, is a necessary prerequisite for all modern computing services and experiences on the Internet, and most particularly for cloud computing. Fibre broadband should be extended to every school in the Republic.
O'Doherty, S.: Cloud Computing in Schools. Masters Dissertation. Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2010.