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Higher education use of cloud systems

Summary etc of

Fiebig, T., Gürses, S., Gañán, C. H., Kotkamp, E., Kuipers, F., Lindorfer, M., Prisse, M., & Sari, T. (2021). Heads in the Clouds: Measuring the Implications of Universities Migrating to Public Clouds. ArXiv:2104.09462 [Cs].

We find that cloud-hosted LMS are mostly relevant in the U.S., the U.K., and the Netherlands. We find no instances of cloud-hosted LMS in Germany, France, and Austria (p. 7)

While the cloud instances of Blackboard are hosted on Microsoft Azure, those for Brightspace, Courseleaf, and Instructure are located in Amazon EC2. (p. 8)

The idea of difference of purpose influencing difference in assembly

We tie the higher share of self-hosting in German universities to multiple factors:

  • Strong commitment to academic freedom and self-governance [30, 75] rooted in the events of the ’68 student revolution [46].
  • Historic prevalence of university datacenters aligned with research and education [52, 85].
  • Several institutions showing strong leadership in terms of self-sovereign learning environments, as for example the University of Osnabrück with the Center Virtuos [47], which has also significantly contributed to Stud.IP and— since the onset of the pandemic—BigBlueButton open source development.
  • A societal understanding of universities as public infrastructures [7].
  • A collaborative and active operators community at German universities supported by the DFN (German Research Net work), leading to a strong exchange about self-sovereign educational tooling [34]

Explicitly linking it to purpose

we argue that SfB adoption can serve as a proxy to assess the general operational paradigm of a university, i.e., if it is run more like an enterprise network or a university network. (p. 12)

we conjecture that we observe an increased adoption of cloud technology for countries in which the university system has seen a stronger commoditization— the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, and THE Top100…In these countries, organizational alignment lead to a situation where academic leaders governing a body of scholars have been replaced by administrators and business managers who oversee university operations. These new managers have imported and integrated enterprise tools and culture into the heart of public education institutions, leading towards greater cloud adoption. (p. 12)

Recomendations for decentralisation

Especially the last point is crucial, as it begs the question what role universities want to play in the development of our digital society: Do they want to lead, or follow.