A Cloud Computing Architecture for E-Learning Platform, Supporting Multimedia Content

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  • 7/28/2019 A Cloud Computing Architecture for E-Learning Platform, Supporting Multimedia Content


    (IJCSIS) International J ournal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 11, No.3, March 2013

    A cloud computing architecture for e-learningplatform, supporting multimedia content

    Abstract E-learning based platforms that support multimediacontent to enhance interactive learning demands large disk space.Despite research ground covered under e-learning circles, lessattention has been devoted to solicit the best methods to addressthe disk space challenges at minimal cost. This research focuseson advancing a best architecture that meet the need for storagespace when developing interactive multimedia e-learning basedportals. Simulation was used using the CloudSim toolkit.

    Findings show that to precisely test the performance of viablearchitectures, there has to be a robust platform for suchexperiments. The main conclusions drawn from this researchwere that, there is room to improve on existing architectures toscale down on development costs so attributed to e-learningportals that are interactive in stature. Storage can be built fromexiting personal computers through harnessing the cloudcomputing functionality designed as most of the personalcomputers are not fully being used by their owners. This researchculminate by recommending the need to explore on bestsimulator packages that can be used to test the functionality ofcloud computing based architecture for e-learning environments.

    Keywords-E-learning, Multimedia, Architecture, CloudComputing, Storage, CloudSim, Simulation, Interactive.

    I. INTRODUCTIONANDBACKGROUNDE-learning based platforms that support multimedia

    content to enhance interactive learning demands large diskspace [1] . To curb the challenge of disk space and decongestthe server(s) what should be done? In setups where there is apool of networked computers or computers that can join anetwork for a dedicated period, what is happening to all the

    idle space and processing power? What solution is there to thestorage space challenge for e-learning platforms that supportsmultimedia content? A close glance at a simple e-learningstructure as presented in Fig 1. below depicts the three mainplayers in the e-learning ecosystem as the e-learning server,the network and the e-learning client.

    Figure 1: E-learning System [1]

    Paradoxical to this illustration, many depicts the existenceof e-learning clients as the dorminant player, there is in thatlight a single network and a single e-learning server, thoughscientifically it can mean two different words in differentformats. There is little attention being paid in most researcheson e-learning based systems on how best the e-learning clientscan also contribute to the server space and thereby increasethoroughput to e-learning based systems.

    Taurayi RuperUniversity of Zimbabwe

    Computer Science DepartmentP.O.Box MP 167HarareZimbabwe

    Email. taurai.rupere@gmail.comtrupere@science.uz.ac.zw

    Attlee M. GamundaniUniversity of Zimbabwe

    Computer Science DepartmentP.O.Box MP 167Zimbabwe

    Email. amgamundani@gmail.com

    Benny M NyamboUniversity of ZimbabweComputer Science DepartmentP.O.Box MP 167Zimbabwe

    Email. nyambo@science.uz.ac.zw

    92 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

  • 7/28/2019 A Cloud Computing Architecture for E-Learning Platform, Supporting Multimedia Content


    (IJCSIS) International J ournal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 11, No.3, March 2013

    As reference [2] posits that Learning managementsystems (LMSs) are already made available in SaaS model,but for most LMS providers, cost structure for providing LMSin SaaS model is currently governed by old way of serverinfrastructure management (in-house or rented), which is thenas-is passed on to the customer.

    It is on this background highlighted above, that part of thisresearch work is built upon. There is cost involved in hosting

    e-learning systems, the stages at which such costs weather inmonetary terms or otherwise needs to be traced andconstituted individually to specific development stages of thee-learning life cycle. There is greater opportunity to explorethe best ways in which certain costs could be minimized oravoided if proper attention is given across the spectrum. Therest of the paper is organized as follows: section 2 gives theproblem definition and research questions; section 4 gives abrief literature about cloud computing architecture in e-learning environment followed by the methodology andresearch design. The results and analysis follows proceeded bythe discussions, conclusions and recommendations.

    II. PROBLEMSTATEMENTThe main focus of this research following the background

    information outlined above, therefore was to explore the bestresources available that can alleviate the challenges many e-learning system developers face especially for platforms thatcarry a substantial volume of multimedia content. Theproblems experienced in e-learning systems as a medium usedto enhance learning and dissemination of information hasparticularly contributed to the formulated pilgrimage towardsa solution that can best be implemented in e-learning systems.

    The search for such a solution was in light of addressing thechallenges at the grass root level that is at the developmentstage of e-learning systems. Having observed that manyinstitutions are able to launch and host e-learning based

    systems to enhance their learning criteria, there is a limitationof storage space.

    In trying to address a challenge herewith presentedreference [3], posits that The process of E-learning is not aperfect one.Course material used in e-learning sometimesis unattractive and non-compelling. Also [4] highlighted thatBusiness divisions who have special and particular needs andmid-size and small companies continue to face stiff challengesand financial crunch to implement e-learning programs andsolutions to fit their scale.

    To address this challenge, there was a motivation to look atthe best cost cutting and resource efficient way in which e-learning systems can be developed and deployed at scales that

    best suits the business or institutions requirements. Inparticular, attention was given to storage capacity as one of thevariables that demands some huge financial investments assometimes a substantial volume of space is required, which inturn triggers sourcing of more servers to meet the everincreasing demand for space.

    One of the features that strongly are a check list whentesting the quality of e-learning systems as highlighted by[5]that .. as the subject of the course is state of art andthus should be updated regularly. There should be high level

    of interaction as well,. This indicates multimedia contentbased e-learning systems are the solutions called for, howeverto host such e-learning platforms in a cost effective routine,what avenue can be followed?

    III. RESEARCHQUESTIONSThe paper seeks to answer the following main research

    question: Is there an appropriate architecture that meets the

    needs of storage space and be used to host e-learning systemsbuilt with multimedia content to enhance interactivity inlearning circles? Sub questions emanating from the mainresearch questions are:

    What are the other e-learning architectures thatsupport multimedia content?

    How are the current e-learning architectureseffective and assessed?

    Can we come up with a suitable architecture formultimedia e-learning systems with solve theneed for storage space compared to existing one?

    IV. LITERATUREREVIEWA. E-learning architectures supporting multimedia contentE-learning involves a broad combination of processes, contentand infrastructure that uses computers and networks to scale orimprove learning parts including the management and delivery[6], [3], [7]. While architecture integrates various components,that consists the public side of interface[8], broken down intoparts [9] that involves functionality, usability, performance,resuse, economic and technology [10].

    The IMS LIP final specification by [11] does provide thefollowing structures to support the implementation of "anysuitable architecture" for learner privacy protection. Howeverfocus was more centred on addressing privacy principles as

    depicted in fig 2 below.

    Figure 2: LSTA system components[11]

    A close look at this architecture clearly show the displayof learning resources and multimedia components for thissetup is not being housed under a single shell. There is apossible danger in slowing delivery of the e-learning resourcesto end-users in such an architectural setup. It is muchconvenient to compute delivery latency at a go than at

    93 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/

    ISSN 1947-5500

  • 7/28/2019 A Cloud Computing Architecture for E-Learning Platform, Supporting Multimedia Content


    (IJCSIS) International J ournal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 11, No.3, March 2013

    different delivery levels. This is pointed out by reference [1]that As with rapid growth of the cloud computingarchitecture usage, more and more industries move their focusfrom investing into processing power to renting processingpower from a specialized vendor.From this nugget, the cloud computing architecture presentedhere is availed on rental from a specialised vendor. This pausean opportunity to look on how best users or organisations canbe specialised vendors in own capacity to effectively make useof the available resources. Also [3] and [4] pointed out thatThe technical standards for connecting the various computersystems and pieces of software needed to make cloudcomputing work still aren't completely defined.

    Well, cloud computing maybe presented as a viablearchitecture as indicated here, there is still a loophole thatneeds research attention in light of being able to definecomputer systems and pieces of software that will enable thecloud computing architecture a worth tool for use. Reference[4] posits that Every decade or so, the computer industry'spendulum swings between a preference for software that'scentrally located and programs that instead reside on a user's

    personal machine. It's always a balancing act, but today'scombination of high-speed networks, sophisticated PCgraphics processors, and fast, inexpensive servers and diskstorage has tilted engineers toward housing more computing indata centers. In the earlier part of this decade, researchersespoused a similar, centralized approach called "gridcomputing." But cloud computing projects are more powerfuland crash-proof than grid systems developed even in recentyears.

    B. The effectiveness of E-learning architecturesA close glance at the following case study unveils some of

    the focus that the implemented e-learning systemsarchitectures were inclined towards: Researcher [11] pointed

    out that However, most of them are focusing on contentmanagement, meta-data specification, or other areas withlittle reference to security and privacy. For example: - TheAICC focuses on practicality and provides recommendationson e-learning platforms, peripherals, digital audio and otherimplementation aspects. - The ARIADNE focuses mainly onmeta-data specification of electronic learning materials withthe goal of sharing and reusing these materials.

    It is easier to advance a solution that addresses how to hostcontent alone based systems than multimedia content basedsystems. This present a great challenge to the e-learningdesign and implementation chores as a result, there is greatneed to explore this avenue in a holistic approach.

    ADL-SCORM is mainly concerned with specifying howinstructional content should be treated [11], [12]. Instructionalcontent is mainly descriptive in nature, well if it embedsmultimedia in it, the focus inclined by ADL-SCORM revieware towards handling not hosting of such instructional content.As an additional requirement to produce a complete piece ofwork, the need to complement efforts made by advancing apossible hosting architectural setup that can both house theinstructional content and provide elastic space for futurestorage needs, cannot be overemphasised.

    Cloud computing delivers infrastructure, platform, andsoftware that are made available as subscription-basedservices in a pay-as-you-go model to consumers.Theseservices are referred to as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS),Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS)in industries [1]. Being an emerging discipline, the cloudcomputing setup still passes to be high cost option anddeterring to some users. It is noble to explore better ways in

    which this model can be used hence implemented on a low tono cost range [13], [14].

    The current cloud computing architecture involves theexistence of data centers that are able to provide services tothe clients located all over the world. In this context, the cloudcan be seen as a unique access point for all the requestscoming from the customers/clients. It is from this setup that amotivation to conduct this research so as to identify the bestways in which the datacenter components of the architecturecan be localized and make use of available resources to themaximum potential is obtained. Even if it seems not veryreasonable, the cloud computing provides some major securitybenefits for individuals and companies that areusing/developing e-learning solutions, like the improved

    improbability. It is almost impossible for any interested person(thief) to determine where is located the machine that storessome wanted data (tests, exam questions, results) or to find outwhich is the physical component he needs to steal in order toget a digital asset. As such, benefits presented by the e-learning architecture are recipe enough to aid exploration ofbest options to advance solutions hosted in the same fashion[1].

    The fact that cloud computing has the most uniquecharacteristic of virtualization makes possible the rapidreplacement of a compromised cloud located server withoutmajor costs or damages. It is very easy to create a clone of avirtual machine so the cloud downtime is expected to be

    reduced substantially;The other security benefits that accrue to cloud computing

    presented here are:

    centralized data storage losing a cloud client is nolonger a major incident while the main part of the applicationsand data is stored into the cloud so a new client can beconnected easily and fast. Imagine what is happening today ifa laptop that stores the examination questions is stolen [1].

    monitoring of data access becomes easier in view of thefact that only one place should be supervised, not thousands ofcomputers belonging to a university, for example. Also, thesecurity changes can be easily tested and implemented sincethe cloud represents a unique entry point for all the clients [1].Hence it exposes one feature worthy pursuing- the data centerfor centralised control and management of resources [4], [12].

    Upon analyzing these, it is expensive to secure servers, butwhy not use idle space in most of personal computers aroundsay in an institution setup where...


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