The joke is that “the cloud” is just shorthand for “someone else’s computer.” The conceptual challenge is that it doesn’t matter whose computer it is, that it could change any time, and that we should begin to think of “computing” and “storage” as commodities, more like “water” or “electricity”, rather than as features of a type of device that sits on your desktop.


2018/10/31 12:00 Conversation with Tony Hirst


The joke is that “the cloud” is just shorthand for “someone else’s computer.” The conceptual challenge is that it doesn’t matter whose computer it is, that it could change any time, and that we should begin to think of “computing” and “storage” as commodities, more like “water” or “electricity”, rather than as features of a type of device that sits on your desktop.

The technology that enables cloud-based computing begins with the concept of server virtualization, and applications such as VMWare or Parallels, and progresses through a range of increasingly sophisticated computing containers created using programs like Docker and run using services like Amazon Web Services or Digital Ocean.

It was decentralized and distributed computing that allowed MOOC companies like Coursera and EdX to serve thousands of students at a time. Today, though, this capacity is available to everyone.

These services are created and provisioned through a maze of new types of file with names like ‘Dockerfile’ or ‘Vagrantfile’ or ‘YAML’. As a result, we are now able to see entire computing environments as pieces of context we can exchange back and forth with each other.

One example of this is the Jupyter Notebook, which is essentially a text document - a notebook - with live functioning computer code inside it that you can modify and run again as often as desired. Alternatively, containers with entire websites are as easy to download and deploy on your as clicking a link or opening a PowerPoint.

These new resources allow us to redefine what we mean by concepts such as ‘textbooks’ and even ‘learning objects’. By putting powerful applications into the hands of students we create new possibilities for manipulation, visualization and creativity.

Students are now able to not only create text, music and art, but also to edit and create new tools to create text, music and art. They will be able to directly experience the relation between algorithm and outcome, or between mathematics and music, as the case may be.<

More significantly, networks of containers, each performing its own specialized function, will allow teachers and students to work cooperatively, creating distributed data networks and services. Learning a concept as simple as “load balancing” - a mechanism where requests to a single web page are send to different computers to spread out the load - is a doorway to being able to imagine and understand deep and complex service networks.


Subscribe to the course feeds

Using the feed reader of your choice (here's a selection) use the course OPML file (here it is) to subscribe to the course feeds. To get a badge you'll need to show you've done this, maybe by writing a blog post).

Due: Dec 16, 2018


Applications, Algorithms and Data: Open Educational Resources and the Next Generation of Virtual Learning Oct 29, 2018 video Using examples such as virtual containers and actionable data books, I sketch the future for the next generation of OERs as a distributed and interactive network of applications, algorithms and data. My presentation starts at 1:18:00 in the video.

Using OPML Oct 29, 2018 video Quick (13 minutes) description of how to use the E-Learning 3.0 OPML feed (at ) to collect the list of feeds being shared by course participants and read all their new poss in your feed reader - I demonstrate how to import OPML for both Feedly and for gRSShopper.

Harvesting Feeds on gRSShopper Oct 29, 2018 video A quick look at me approving feed and harvesting them. This is the manual process; it can all be automated, as I'll show in a later video.

Conversation With Tony Hirst Oct 31, 2018 video We covered server virtualization with an in-depth look at using Docker to launch full web applications in just a few moments, and then looked at embedded programs in Jupyter notebooks, tying it all together with a discussion of how these might be used in the future.


Feature Article E-Learning 3.0, Part 2: Cloud, Nov 02, 2018.

It's easy to think of the cloud simply resources as “someone else’s computer” where you run your applications online. But the technology that makes it possible to use the cloud has created a whole new class of resources, a class where resources are more than just text or multimedia, but resources that are in fact fully functioning computers.

Docker Hub
Docker, 2018/10/31

Docker Hub is the world’s largest public repository of container images with an array of content sources including container community developers, open source projects and independent software vendors (ISV) building and distributing their code in containers.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

What is Docker? Docker containers explained
Serdar Yegulalp, InfoWorld, 2018/10/31

For many years now, the leading way to isolate and organize applications and their dependencies has been to place each application in its own virtual machine. But virtual machines are bulky. Enter Docker containers. Containers make it possible to isolate applications into small, lightweight execution environments that share the operating system kernel.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Cloud Adoption Strategy: 2018 update
Government of Canada, 2018/11/01

Cloud computing can be compared to public utilities that deliver commodities such as electricity. Instead of buying and running infrastructure itself, an organization buys computing power from a provider. Much like electricity in a home, cloud computing is on-demand and the consumer pays for what they use. The cost of the infrastructure used for delivery (storage and services in the case of cloud computing, hydro poles and power lines in the case of electricity) is covered by the charges to the consumer.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Cloud Computing

Describes cloud computing and explains the benefits, concerns, types of cloud computing and what to consider when moving your business to the cloud. Part of Ontario’s E-Business Toolkit.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

What is Cloud Computing in Simple Terms? Definition & Examples
Bojana Dobran, PhoenixNAP, 2018/11/01

"Did you know that the monthly cost of running a basic web application was about $150,000 in 2000? Cloud computing has brought it down to less than $1000 a month. For businesses, cloud computing means improved collaboration and productivity, as well as significant cost reductions. It means better data protection, improved availability, and expanded access to cutting-edge technologies."

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#El30 Week 2 Clouds And Jupyter
x28, EL30 – x28's new Blog,

I first encountered the idea of a cloud when we drew pictures of our computer networks. Now the week's synopsis talks about redefining what we mean by concepts such as ‘textbooks’. I have long been fascinated by the idea of such interactive resources.
Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Publish Static Websites, Docker Containers or Node.js Apps Just by Typing: now
Tony Hirst, OUseful Info, 2018/10/23

"A few days ago, in the latest episode of the Reclaim Today video show (any chance of an audio podcast feed too?) Jim Groom and Tim Owens chatted about Zeit Now [docs], a serverless hosting provider." Tagged on Twitter #el30 by Roland Legrand with the comment "this seems to be relevant for those of us wanting to experiment with #docker and other cloud-related stuff we study in #el30 - Zeit Now."

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Containers (Part 2) And Harvesting Feeds In #El30 Week 2
Laura,, 2018/11/08

It’s coursework day for me and I did two things: Watched the video on Applications, Algorithms and Data: Open Educational Resources and the Next Generation of Virtual Learning and I sorted harvesting the course feeds in both Feedly and gRSShopper, which was a suggested task to go with this week. This post is divided into two sections, […] The post Containers (part 2) and Harvesting feeds in #el30 Week 2 appeared first on

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#El30 Week 2 – Cloud
daveymoloney, Davey Moloney, 2018/11/08

In the second week of #EL30 we explored the topic of Cloud. Stephen begins by introducing the idea: The joke is that “the cloud” is just shorthand for “someone else’s computer.” The conceptual challenge is that it doesn’t matter whose computer it is, that it could change any time, and that we should begin to … Continue reading "#EL30 Week 2 – Cloud" Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Learning Record Store (Downes-Shelly Blake-Plock Conversation) E-Learning 3.0
ioannouolga, connecting data to information to knowledge, 2018/11/08

xAPI: The Experience API (or xAPI) is a new specification for learning technology that makes it possible to collect data about the wide range of experiences a person has (online and offline). This API captures data in a consistent format about a person or group’s activities from many technologies. Very different systems are able to securely communicate […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Building With Learning #El30: Week 2
Laura,, 2018/11/05

While watching the discussion between Tony Hirst and Stephen Downes as part of the cmooc #el30 (my other posts are here) there were moments of clarity on my part but also I found myself really not understanding. Things that I thought were the important points were not. My lack of understanding only came clear when […] The post Building with learning #el30: Week 2 appeared first on

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#El30: Interpreting The Cloud
Learning Complexity, 2018/11/05

The point of the computing cloud for me has been the continued abstraction of data and services from the computing platform. I've been using computers since early 1980s (In 1982, I wrote my dissertation on the University of Miami's UNIVAC 1100), and I became a Mac user in 1987, so I am well-versed in the problems with exchanging data on one platform with users on another platform.

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Post-It Found! The Low-Tech Side Of Elearning 3.0 ;-) (Apostolos K. ("AK")), Multilitteratus Incognitus, 2018/11/05

Greetings fellow three-point-oh'ers (or is it just fellow eLearners?) This past week in eLearning 3.0 (Week 2, aka 'the cloud'). This week's guest was Tony Hirsch, and what was discussed was the cloud, and specifically Docker.  Before I get into my (riveting) thoughts on the cloud, let me go back  to Week 0 (two weeks ago) and reflect a little on the thoughts I jotted down on my retrieved post-it note.

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The Unseen Cloud And The Nature Of Learning
dogtrax, EL30 – Kevin's Meandering Mind, 2018/11/10

Stephen Downes, of E-Learning 3.0,  consolidates his thinking on “the Cloud” with the lines above, which intrigue me as a writer, teacher, learner. I don’t have a clear sense of what it means for me yet so I am in the “mulling something profound” stage. (And I am already behind in this course, as Stephen […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Considering The Cloud
kgq962, Random Access Learning, 2018/11/13

So, I know this is late, but hey, the day job sometimes takes over, so now I’m playing catch up. So here goes – impressions and take aways from “Cloud Week” … I’ll admit, I find the whole Jupyter Notebook/Docker/Docker … Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]